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individuals by recording their personal experiences and placing those stories into archival records for future use in historical documents and family histories.
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.