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Oral history students as narrators

For this week’s contribution to OUPblog, we’ve gone audio — we are the Oral History Review, after all. In our first podcast, our guest Stephen Sloan elaborates on “On the Other Foot: Oral History Students as Narrators,” a piece he wrote for the most recent issue of the OHR (volume 39, issue 2). This post represents another first: an effort to give current and future OHR contributors room to discuss their articles further.

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Oral history, research, and technology

A month ago, the Oral History Association (OHA) hosted their 2012 annual conference, “Sing It Out, Shout It Out, Say It Out Loud: Giving Voice through Oral History” in Cleveland, Ohio. Unsurprisingly, one topic that came up in both formal presentations and casual conversation was the field’s use of the latest tech.

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How to survive election season, oral history style

By Caitlin Tyler-Richards
Every presidential election, similar concerns arise: Don’t the campaign ads seem especially vicious? Has the media coverage always been this crazed? Will we ever actually get to vote? While I know many who become more motivated the more absurd the election season becomes, I tend to become disenchanted with the whole process, wondering how my one small vote could compete against the Koch Brothers or Morgan Freeman.

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Intersections of sister fields

By Sarah Milligan
In March 2012, there was a discussion on the public folklorists’ listserv Publore about the evolution of oral history as a defined discipline and folklorists’ contribution to its development. As an observer and participant in both fields, I see overlap today. The leaderships of both national associations — the Oral History Association (OHA) and the American Folklore Society (AFS) — frequently collaborate on large-scale projects, like the current IMLS-funded project looking at oral history in the digital age.

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Conducting interviews with undocumented workers?

By John A. Neuenschwander

In a recent posting on Oral History listserv a submitter indicated that she was about to begin an oral history project with undocumented workers and wished to put some safeguards in place to prevent unauthorized access. To protect the identities of the narrators several respondents suggested that pseudonyms should be created for each interviewee. One of these respondents recommended that the document containing the pseudonym/real identity matchup be transmitted for safekeeping to a location abroad. Another responder indicated that in addition to the use of pseudonyms the transcripts of the interviews should be stripped of all identifying information and the recordings

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A Reflection on the OHA’s New Code of Ethics

By John A. Neuenschwander
Last fall the Oral History Association approved a new set of ethical guidelines. The goal of the task force that prepared the new General Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History was to provide a more condensed and usable set of guidelines. The leadership of the Association stressed that the new ethical guidelines would be reviewed periodically to determine if they needed to be amended and/or expanded. To that end

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Folk Duet: Writing Discord and Folk Music

“Apathetic,” he scoffs.
“Naïve and romantic,” I counter defensively.
“These songs are so self-absorbed!”
“Those songs were so self-righteous!”

This is Pete Seeger-biographer David Dunaway and I debating the evolution of American folk music from our distinct generational perspectives, and we aren’t, technically, arguing. Beyond the pot-shots, we are engaging in academic discourse born out of the ever-shifting debate over purity, authenticity, and activism in folk music.

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