Hand in Hand Productions

Defining Oral Histories & Herstories

Oral histories are personal memories shared from the perspective of the narrator. By means of recorded interviews oral history documents collect spoken memories and personal commentaries of historical significance. These interviews are preserved through audio books, video DVD's or print documents that are transcribed verbatim and minimally edited for accessibility. Oral histories capture the flavor of the narrator's speech and convey the narrator's feelings through the tenor and tempo of speech patterns.

An oral history is more than a family tree with names of ancestors and their birth and death dates. Oral history is recorded personal memory, and that is its value. What it offers complements other forms of historical text, and does not always require historical collaboration. Oral history recognizes that memories often become polished as they sift through time, taking on new meanings and potentially reshaping the importance of the events they relate. Oral histories support individual's life review.

Memories shared in an oral histories create a picture of the narrator's life — the culture, food, eccentricities, opinions, gratitudes, thoughts, idiosyncrasies, joys, sorrows, passions — the rich substance that gives color and texture to this individual life.

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