Oral Histories and Archiving

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Oral Histories and Archiving

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Looking through the oral history section of JOTPY, I noticed a few recordings of interviews. This got me thinking about oral history and its similarities to journalism and the work journalists do. I then started thinking about how journalists and historical societies could work together to keep oral histories and newspapers. Could there be a way for journalists to get the correct permission from their interviewees to have their recorded interviews be put into the historical society of the area where they’re working?
I was thinking of my time at a small-town newspaper in a rural area. What if my interviews with the local people and the local government officials who aren’t necessarily big-names were put into the archive to help fill the space? Could these interviews help provide a bigger picture of the town and the way it worked during this timeframe? Could they fill a “silence” these historical societies and their archives have? I also recorded town hall meetings and school board meetings almost every week. These meetings are recorded, but often in written form by a secretary. I was recording these events via phone/recording device (actual audio). The work I was doing (the work a journalist does) offers another medium for the archive. I think this would be an interesting interdisciplinary project, especially within rural areas.
And what about now? The move towards online meetings and discussion due to the pandemic allows more accessibility to these board meetings or interviews. But are they being archived at the local level? Private meetings are a bit iffy on permissions and accessibilities, but what about those meetings open to the public? Are they being recorded and then placed where others can access it, and then is the local town historian or historical society archiving it as well? If they are, how are they doing it?

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This item was submitted on February 18, 2021 by Jen Rodriguez using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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