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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Bringing the Digital Humanities into the classroom

I spent four days last month with my colleague and friend, Doug Boyd, as he and I (mainly he) gave oral history workshops in Milwaukee and Madison. While the idea to bring Boyd to Wisconsin for these trainings began with Ann Hanlon, Digital Humanities Lab head at UW-Milwaukee, I jumped at the chance to find groups to sponsor his time in Madison.

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Back to the “stove front”: an oral history project about Cuban housewives

We recently asked you to tell us to send us your reflections, stories, and the difficulties you’ve faced while doing oral history. This week, we bring you another post in this series, focusing on an oral history project from Carmen Doncel and Henry Eric Hernández. We encourage you to to chime into the discussion, comment below or on our Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and G+ pages.

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Off the beaten path: An insider’s guide to Tampa history for #OHA2015

There are less than two months left before we converge on Tampa for the Oral History Association’s annual meeting! This week, we asked Jessica Taylor of the University of Florida’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, who authored “We’re on Fire: Oral History and the Preservation, Commemoration, and Rebirth of Mississippi’s Civil Rights Sites” in the most recent Oral History Review.

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On spatial strategies of narration

Tim Cole’s article “(Re)Placing the Past: Spatial Strategies of Retelling Difficult Stories” in the most recent Oral History Review raises some really intriguing questions about the function of space and distance in oral history interviews. Cole graciously agreed to answer some of our questions over email, which we’ve reproduced here for your enjoyment.

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What’s your story? Calling all oral history bloggers

Over the last few months, we’ve had the pleasure of publishing thoughtful reflections, compelling narratives, and deep engagements with what it means to do oral history. Each post was written by a member of the oral history community who was willing to share their thoughts and experiences with all of us. We received an incredible response from our last call for submissions, so we’re coming back again to ask for more.

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Uniqueness lost

“When I went to the Iv’ry Coast, about thirty years ago, I remember coming off the plane and just being assaulted with not only the heat but the color.” These were the first words of the most moving story I have ever heard—but it wasn’t the story I was there to collect. For me, the best oral histories are the ones that sound a human chord, stories that blur the spaces between historically significant narrative and personal development.

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Elspeth Brown on digital collaboration in LGBTQ oral history

This week on the Oral History Review blog, we’re continuing our recognition of LGBTQ Pride month with a special podcast featuring Elspeth Brown. In the podcast, Brown discusses the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, as well as her work as a member of the community and a historian. Check out the links below for more information, and send us your proposals if you’d like to share your work with the OHR blog.

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Celebrating pride through oral history

In recognition of Pride Month, we’re looking at some of the many oral history projects focused on preserving the memories of LGBTQ communities. The LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory is connecting archives across North America to produce a digital hub for the research and study of LGBTQ oral histories. The University of Chicago is cataloguing the history of students, faculty, and alumni for its “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles” project. The University of Wisconsin – Madison continues to collect the histories of Madison’s LGBT Community, and has even prepared mini-movies to make the materials more accessible.

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Mentoring the next generation of oral historians

Ask anyone who has been to an Oral History Association annual meeting and they’ll tell you that one of the best parts of the conference is the people. The conference offers the chance to meet and learn from oral history veterans, as well as those just getting started in the field. This week on the blog, we’re highlighting the OHA mentorship program, which aims to help newcomers at the meeting to get the most out of the experience by partnering them with mentors. The program paired 47 mentors and newcomers at the 2014 conference, and hopes to connect even more people going forward.

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Using Pop Up Archive for oral history transcription

After completing my first transcription process using Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I was asked to transcribe an interview using Pop Up Archive, an online platform for storing, transcribing, and searching audio content developed by the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). They explain the process in three steps: 1. You add any audio file. 2. We tag, index, and transcribe it automatically. 3. Your sound, in one place, searchable to the second.

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Later interviews as counter narratives: Treblinka and the ardent lover

Oral historians differ on the utility of retrieving participants’ full life stories, but we agree that “full” is a relative term. There is always much unsaid in any life’s retelling, and for a wide range reasons. Drawing on forty years of interviewing Holocaust survivors, I emphasize here that what is unsaid in early interviews often emerges in later ones. Indeed, later interviews may even become counter narratives to earlier recounting—a way for participants to tell us not to “peg” them too easily or too soon.

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Narrating nostalgia

The most recent issue of the Oral History Review will be zipping across the world soon. To hold you over until it arrives, we interviewed one of the authors featured in this edition, Jennifer Helgren, about her article, “A ‘Very Innocent Time’: Oral History Narratives, Nostalgia and Girls’ Safety in the 1950s and 1960s.”

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Oral histories of student veterans at Monmouth University

In the Fall of 2012, I decided to offer to conduct oral history interviews of Monmouth University’s student veterans to donate to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. I hadn’t conducted any oral histories since leaving government service the prior year. I missed the craft, and thought this a truly worthwhile endeavor.

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Oral history online: blogging to reach new audiences

I am a child of the internet age. I have never not had a computer in my house. Being in Columbia’s Oral History Master’s Program (OHMA), I’ve read articles for class that describe how oral historians recorded and edited audio in the past. Every time I read one of those articles, I call my mom, who used to work editing tape in the 70s and 80s. “How did you do it?” I ask. “How did you edit with a razor, with no undo button? If it was still like that, I would never have entered this field.”

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Reflections on the ‘urge to collect’

In the most recent issue of the Oral History Review, Linda Shopes started an important discussion about changes she has seen in the field of oral history in “‘Insights and Oversights’: Reflections on the Documentary Tradition and the Theoretical Turn in Oral History”. Linda’s article sparked many interesting arguments on curation versus collection, critical analysis versus volume, and framing individual experiences in wider contexts. Below, we bring to you a continuation of this conversation through an email interview.

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