Often the only way to find out about the past is to ask someone who knows about it. Oral history is the recording of memories of people’s unique life experiences. People can be much more interesting than documents—through oral history the past comes alive.
The recorded interview can be used as a primary source of information about a time, an event or a life. Oral histories can also challenge existing collective beliefs. Frequently they raise the status of the every-day experience as historical records usually rely on an official version of an event. Oral history creates a record or supplements existing ones.
The recording of oral history is a two-way process in which someone shares memories with an interviewer who has carefully planned an interview.
Oral history preserves voices, accents and vocabularies of individuals interviewed.
Oral histories have been used:
for the life histories of groups who may be poorly represented in written sources
to document the experience of Holocaust survivors
to trace the history of a local community
for family histories
to encourage children to treat people as living history books, at the same time increasing understanding between generations
for research purposes in tertiary education studies
in corporate and institutional histories
in museums to enliven displays
in publications to capture reader’s imaginations
in newspaper and magazine journalism, radio, television and plays to promote authentic voices of the past
Welcome to the Victorian-branch website of the Oral History Association of Australia (OHAA)
OHAA is a non-profit organisation formed in 1978 with branches in all states. Its aims are to:
promote ethical practice and methods of oral history
educate in the use of oral history methods
encourage discussions on all aspects of oral history
foster the preservation of oral history records
What’s On! Upcoming events and workshops
2014 Events calendar now available! Further information here