Aiko Howes  Photo: Louise Whelan (one of a collection held at State Library NSW)

Aiko Howes Photo: Louise Whelan (one of a collection held at State Library NSW)

Why do oral history?

  • Giving voice to the past

    Oral history records multiple voices of history, not just the voices usually found in written records. For example a factory oral history will record the experience of all levels workers in the canteen, on the assembly line, supervisors, managers, company directors, union leaders etc.
     
  • Making history human

    Oral history can record personal recollections about roles and relationships, particular events and settings, and responses to people and issues. We can discover how and why people do the work they do, what they gain from it, and what they feel about it. 
     
  • Understanding meaning

    Oral history can record many first-hand experiences representing diverse views about an issue. It may uncover many layers of meaning embedded in the stories. It also gives insight as to how people understand and interpret the past and their place in it.
     
  • Hearing communities

    Oral historians can bring to life and demonstrate the importance of the stories, experiences, struggles and meanings of the individuals who built, preserved, and transformed communities.
     
  • Preserving speech

    Oral history provides a record of the way people speak: voices, accents,and vocabularies.