Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oral histories

Does your library, museum or archives have oral histories? Have you ever checked them to see what they have?

I have been working on a project with the local library so I have taken a closer look at the oral histories at the library. Something, I had really hadn't taken the time to do during my years working at the library.

In 1976 and 1977, the library had grants to undertake oral histories. Staff was hired for these projects. In 1976, the focus was on Leith a small community near Owen Sound, Ontario. At one time, in the early days, the dream was that Leith would become a large community. This did not happen but it is a beautiful place to live and visit as you explore the countryside. The 1977 project expanded the interviews to Owen Sound and surrounding communities. The second project covers a wide variety of topics: organizations, general history, businesses and industries. The interviewee also talks a little about their own life and their connection to the topic that is the focus of the interview.

In the first project, the two staff interviewed over a dozen people, including several who were summer residents. In the second, the project staff interviewed over 120 people.

When the interviews were initially done, they were recorded on audio-cassette. Now, the library is in the process of having them transferred to compact discs.

The supporting material for the audio recordings varies. For the Leith project, the questions for each interview are given with the responses in point form. For the Owen Sound project, most interviews provide a list of the topics discussed. With some, supporting material was added. There is where I found some information about the IOOF cenotaph at Greenwood Cemetery Owen Sound. I wrote about the cenotaph on my Graveyard Rabbit of Grey County, Ontario blog.

If you have local oral histories of interest, check to see if there is supporting material. You may find some information not covered in the interviews.

© 2010 Janet Iles

1 comment:

  1. What a brilliant idea. I wish that more organizations would do something like this.


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