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What It Is

  • Unlike folklore or folk traditions passed down for generations by word of mouth, oral history is the recording of an individual's firsthand experiences.

  • Oral history is a way of giving lasting voice to individuals by recording their personal experiences and placing those stories into archival records for future use in historical documents and family histories.

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Why It Matters

  • Oral history is better at recording a sense of place and time than any other form of historical documentation. 

  • It literally records the human voice with all its passion.

  • It records the human perceptions and feelings about a place or event - the meaning of that place and how it impacted the human experience.

  • Along with physical, or tangible characteristics, oral history records the intangibles: the social, spiritual, cultural significance, and personal perceptions of a place, its people, and its community spirit.

  • The events of today are the history of tomorrow.  If ten different people witness the same event, there would be ten different, yet equally relevant stories about that event. 

  • Everyone has his or her own unique viewpoint and when pieced together, they begin to tell the whole story.