Sheila rowbotham's memorable phrase ( 13 ) was taken up by oral historians and has proved to be an important and enduring influence. Although Rowbotham did not use oral history she was a major inspiration for those who did, including Jill Liddington and Jill Norris.( 14 ) This influence can also be seen in the second themed Oral History journal published in 1977. It featured 'women's history' and included contributions from joanna bornat, diana gittins, catherine hall and Elizabeth Roberts.( 15 write ) As well as women's lives, the lives of working-class men were also explored, including shipbuilders, miners and farm labourers. Although associated with labour history, oral historians were much more likely to reach beyond the trade union organiser and into areas that included the unorganised and even as far as conservative and deferent members of the working class. The diverse contributions that can be found in the journal were also present in the society's public events. Early conference themes included oral tradition and dialect, the first World War, work, local history, street culture, oral history on radio (in partnership with the bbc) and in the classroom, the International Brigade and women's history. Community, museum and county record office initiatives were also in evidence. Through its annual conferences and a seminar series the society continues explicitly to explore new areas and engage new audiences.
In the mid 1970s there were articles on 'women's work in the yorkshire inshore fishing industry 9 ) 'The rural publican and his business in East Kent before 1914 10 ) and 'jazz bands of North East England'.( 11 ) Such an eclectic mix can. The idea of creating 'history from below' (which can be traced to the Annales School ) meant thinking in part about who was 'hidden from history'. But oral historians were also considering the different ways historical consciousness developed as a result of life history experiences. So, for example, early issues of Oral History carried articles on families and childhood in which children were portrayed as active actors in history (an idea that would take another 30 years to be discovered by mainstream sociology). Oral historians did not, however, just want twist to chart the lives of non-elites and their disempowerment, but they wanted to record instances of resistance and acquiescence. They wanted to record successful and unsuccessful attempts to make change by the less powerful in society. And 'history from below' also meant encouraging a wider participation in the production of history. In addition to 'shifting the focus and opening new areas of inquiry. By bringing recognition to substantial groups of people who had been ignored oral historians were encouraged to break down 'boundaries between the educational institution and the world, between the history profession and ordinary people'.( 12 ) The aspiration of producing history from below was combined.
Has become one of the growth areas of social history. With at least seventy research projects currently being pursued 8 ) And most of these were 'history from below' projects. Making 'history from below' for oral historians has a number of significant meanings. While most history was, and some might argue continues to be, written from elite points of view, an early aim of oral historians was to collect memories that would bring new perspectives to understandings of the past. In Britain the history workshop movement, which explicitly championed feminist and labour history, was important in sustaining the development of an oral history that was interested in recording the voices of the less powerful. That is the majority. Thus from the first issues of Oral History the recorded memories under discussion were collected from a wide variety of individuals and groups not normally found in history journals at the time.
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At the same time insights into the way people remember and the value of remembering were being gained from members of the emerging reminiscence movement. Here gerontological work on memory and studies on ageing more broadly proved influential. Oral historians have also been inspired by criticisms made by academic historians. This resulted in a number of different responses. The first rejoinder was to continue to popularise oral history through community-based initiatives and the media. In this phase oral historians began to think of ways in which remembering the past synthesis and collecting memories could be empowering for those they researched. Furthermore, the relationship between oral historians and the people they interviewed became an important consideration in the collection and subsequent analyses of testimonies.
Such considerations of empowerment and intersubjectivity led in turn to the concept of ' shared authority '. The second response was to develop how oral historians understood narrative and memory. For some, including Al Thompson 6 ) this has been the most significant change in oral history. It is worth noting that this phase coincided with the increasing exchange of ideas internationally. As well as the major journals, which include the Oral History review (in the United States) and Oral History (in Britain the development of oral history has been well served by the perks and Thomson edited Oral History reader, now in its second edition.(.
Social scientists, archivists and broadcasters, as well as museum and library staff, were becoming interested in the potential uses of oral history. This diversity was reflected in the development of the Oral History society in the early 1970s. Within 20 years a growing number of practitioners were helping to develop a new range of topics that would include histories of art, science, land rights, business and even garden design. Influenced by developments in women's history, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, oral historians in Britain also began to explore the historical construction of identities. So, by the 1990s oral historians were engaged in black and ethnic minority histories, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender histories and the history of medicine. The Oral History society, through its activities, continues to involve a wide spectrum of individuals.
While this has resulted at points in tensions between academic and community oral historians, the society maintains a commitment to inclusiveness and a rejection of a narrow professionalisation. Above all else the society also continues to encourage people to engage in making histories through the use of oral history. Back to the top developments in oral history theory In its early development oral history was influenced by wider debates that were occurring at the time within social history, women's history and labour history. In the 1970s and 1980s many oral historians were combining ' history from below ' with the aim of providing a voice for those who would otherwise be 'hidden from history'. Both 'history from below' and 'uncovering hidden histories' have increasingly been critiqued by oral historians themselves as inadequate in democratising the production of histories. However, the twin commitments have remained significant to oral history practitioners. Oral historians, especially in the early years, tended to prioritise collecting older people's memories.
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The products of these archives feature among the early issues of the Oral twist History journal writing (first produced in 1971). And oral history remains an important means of researching 'tradition as exemplified by researchers such as Doc Rowe and Ruth Finnegan. In the 1960s the newly emerging discipline of labour history was also finding value in oral sources. Information was difficult to find about the past domestic and working lives of the majority of the population. And there were large parts of British working class history that were simply absent from surviving documentary evidence. Although deeply frustrating for those who were researching beyond the reach of living memory, the realisation that written records were deficient proved an inspiration to record the recollections of older members of the 'labouring classes'. Leading labour historians from this period who would leave their mark on oral history included Asa Briggs and John saville (the first Chair of the Oral History society ). As well as labour historians and collectors of oral tradition, the development of the 'new' oral history in the late 1960s was attracting a range of diverse interests.
It was noted in an edition of the. Amateur Historian in 1957, for example, that 'the collection of information from old people does not feature in the lenses textbooks, yet it is an essential process in compiling local history'.( 5 ) Another important influence in the remaking of oral history came from those with. In the 1950s the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University and the welsh Folk museum established recording programmes. A common feature of these early 'folk life' collections was the recording of minority groups, such as gaelic speakers. While Eric Cregeen proved an inspirational figure in Scotland, in England it was the work of george Ewart evans that provided an important and lasting contribution. In addition to folklore studies, there were a number of initiatives that were interested in dialect and linguistic aspects of the spoken word, including the School of English at the University of leeds and the centre for English Cultural Tradition at Sheffield. Parallels were often drawn in this work with oral tradition in other societies, especially in Africa.
much of the accounts of eye-witnesses of the peloponnesian Wars, 'whose reports he claimed, 'i have checked with as much thoroughness as possible'.( 2 ) by the time bede came to write his. History of the English Church and people, completed in 731 ad, he simply noted his thanks to 'countless faithful witnesses who either know or remember the facts'.( 3 ) even as late as 1773 Samuel Johnson expressed a keen interest in oral histories and oral. There then followed a long period when written sources seemed to dominate the practices of professional historians in the west. The weakening of oracy, with the rise and spread of the printed word, combined with the adoption of reductionist and empirically based methods in academic study, meant that the significance of oral testimonies was poorly understood. As a result, while oral sources often played a significant part in the writing of histories, these were just as often downplayed in comparison with evidence drawn from documents. The lack of acknowledgement of oral sources was compounded by a failure to access their value in any meaningful way. This was set to change in the second half of the 20th century. And in 1969 an informal day conference at the British Institute of Recorded sound (birs) led to the formation of a committee that would in turn establish in 1973 the Oral History society.( 4 it is perhaps historians and archivists interested in local histories that.
Oral history continues to paperless be an important means by which non-academics can actively participate in 'making history'. However practitioners across a range of academic disciplines have also developed the method into a way of recording, understanding and archiving narrated memories. Oral history has also emerged as an international movement. Within this movement oral historians have approached the collection, analysis and dissemination of oral history in different ways. In broad terms while oral historians in Western Europe and North America have often focused on issues of identity and cultural difference, oral historians in Latin America and Eastern Europe have tended to pursue more overtly political projects. However, there are many ways of doing oral history even within single national contexts. Oral History society has played a key role in facilitating and developing the use of oral history. Internationally oral historians are represented by the International Oral History Association (. Early history, oral history was 'the first kind of history' according to paul Thompson.
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Early history, developments in oral history theory, history from below. Uncovering hidden histories, oral history and labour history, oral history and black and ethnic minority history. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender histories. Oral history and history: empowering and intersubjectivity. Women's history and oral history 'a shared authority narrative and memory, international collaborations. Ethics and legal understanding, technical change and oral history, community oral history. Archives, oral history as public history, applied oral history. The future of oral history, footnotes, since the 1970s oral history in Britain has grown from being a method in folklore studies to become a key component in community histories.