Australian Lives: An Intimate History – a new type of oral history book


Oral History Victoria President Al Thomson and Oral History NSW President Anisa Puri have had a lot of fun in recent weeks launching and promoting the book they have created using the Australian Generations interviews. Australian Lives is a paperback and an ebook. The ebook is a new type of oral history book: you can listen to each interview extract through an online link that takes you direct to that interview in the National Library online audio archive.

David Astle and Alistair Thomson (back), Sarah Rood (MC), Anisa Puri, Katie Holmes and Veronica Schwarz (front) at the launch.

OHV kicked off a series of capital city book launches in Melbourne on 22 May. At the Melbourne launch interviewee Veronica Schwarz shared some of her extraordinary contributions to the book in a conversation with interviewer Katie Holmes, and David Astle from SBS Letters and Numbers described the life stories in the book as ‘plain and pure, unabashed, confronting and confessional’. Al and Anisa, together with Veronica, have spoken about the book on several ABC radio programs, including Life Matters – click here to listen. The Age published a feature using extracts from the book:  click here to read the Age article.

Further details about the book available on the Monash University Publishing website, or check out the Australian Lives Facebook site.

Introductory and Advanced Workshops – tickets now available

Tickets are now available for our upcoming August and September workshops!


Introductory Workshop 2 – Bringing history to life: an introduction to oral history interviewing

Sarah Rood, professional historian from Way Back When Consulting Historians, will present this workshop. It will provide an introduction to oral history practice, focusing on research, ethics, equipment, interviewing techniques and transcribing. Suitable for students, volunteers, or anyone with an interest in recording oral histories, you will gain valuable insights into the work of doing oral history.

Learn how to prepare questions; about the forms, the ethics and permissions involved; and the top tips to a good interview. Sarah uses real examples to illustrate some of the pitfalls and some of the gems from actual interviews. You will have the opportunity to practise writing questions, as well as to conduct a short interview. Please bring your recording device with you.

For more information, and to secure your place at the introductory workshop, please visit our Eventbrite page.


Advanced Workshop 2A: Editing and Using Interview Transcripts for Publication

Facilitator: Alistair Thomson

In this audio-visual age, it’s easy to forget that oral historians often use interviews in written formats. This day workshop will focus on creating text-based outputs from oral history interviews.

In the morning we will explore and discuss the range of ways in which oral history interviews are used in text-based outputs: from testimony books or websites that reproduce edited interviews with one or more narrators; through history books or journal articles that incorporate extracts from interview transcripts as evidence, case study or illustration within an authorial narrative; to text panels in museum exhibitions that use interview extracts with or without a curator’s interpretation. We’ll consider examples from Al’s oral history publications, and participants are encouraged to bring and discuss examples from their own work. We will note how new technologies are enabling new types of production that combine text and audio (and audio-visuals), and the opportunities and challenges posed by 21st-century innovations.

In the afternoon, we’ll note some basic guidelines (and some enduring controversies) about creating verbatim transcripts, before focusing on approaches and issues in editing transcripts for publication. Each participant will edit a transcript extract in class (either an extract they bring or one provided by Al) and we will discuss editorial aims, processes and decisions. By the end of the day you will have enhanced your understanding and skills in writing with oral history.

For more information, and to secure your booking, please visit our Eventbrite page.

IOHA 2018 Conference: Scholarship applications open

The theme of the 2018 IOHA Congress is Memory and Narration. The congress focuses on the complex and multidimensional nature of oral history, and we welcome presentations from diverse perspectives. We invite papers that focus on methodological issues concerning the production and analysis of oral histories and life stories. We especially encourage contributions related to oral history sources as narratives/narration and applications of methodological theories and practices.

Therefore, the panels and presentations will address the following themes:

–       Archived oral history
–       Personal and shared narratives
–       Transgenerational memory
–       Class, gender, age and memory
–       Traditions, folklore and history
–       Oral history research in different disciplines
–       New waves of oral history
–       Oral history, theory and ethics
–       Oral history and narration
–       Life narratives and oral history

The XX IOHA Congress coincides with the anniversary of two important events in Finnish history, the centennial of the 1918 Finnish Civil War as well as the end of World War I. The congress organizers would therefore like to welcome also contributions that address memories of wars and other conflicts, narratives of survival, intergenerational war memories and communities of commemoration.

For each international conference the IOHA is able to provide small grants for a limited number of participants. The IOHA Conference Scholarship Fund aims to bring together international oral history scholars from inside and outside the academic realm, to continue building a unique global platform for professional exchange and comparative oral history inquiry.

IOHA Conference Grants take the form of financial support for travel costs, accommodation or conference fees. The grant is a supplement; applicants are advised to start looking for funds from other sources as soon as they determine their intention to participate.

Sue Anderson (Australia), Outi Fingerroos (Finland), Martha Narkunas (USA), and Mark Wong (Singapore) make up the scholarship committee.

Scholarship application deadline is December 30th 2017.


For more information, and to download the application form, please click here.