First of all, what is oral history? Put simply it is a collection of testimonies by living persons to record their unique life stories. They are not based on gossip, hearsay or rumors. Instead, oral histories are chronicles of direct observations as told by the people who witnessed the events or lived through the experiences being described. They are taken straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
This can be a great way of capturing the life and times of your family, close friends, community members and associates from their individual, personal perspectives. Each person has a treasure trove of interesting, funny, valuable observations and insights that only they can express. Saving them for future generations to cherish and learn from can make a wonderful gift to leave behind. Moreover it can instill a true appreciate for one’s heritage that mere images in a photo album or listings on a family tree can not.
Who are the people in those grainy, old films and faded pictures your great grandparents took? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to read or hear their special stories and musings about growing up back then? Wouldn’t it be a meaningful legacy to record and share your own stories with great great grandchildren yet born?
The process for creating a proper oral history is actually quite well defined and disciplined or systematic as the interviewer not only poses questions and records statements, he or she also attempts to verify the facts, put them in an accurate, historical context and store or archive the testimony for posterity.