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.