Unique oral history teaching materials in development

Erfgoed Gelderland is developing unique oral history teaching materials in collaboration with the Gelderland War Museums, the University of Applied Sciences Arnhem Nijmegen and various vocational schools in Gelderland. The teaching materials are part of the project ‘Freedom and Citizenship’ and consist of five short films intended for vocational schools. In the films, the basic principles of the oral history interview technique are explained in a narrative manner, so that students can then conduct their own interviews on the subject of freedom. The project is made possible by the province of Gelderland. Read more here.

Photo credit: Erfgoed Nederland

 

Call for Flemish collections and oral history projects

The ‘Sprekende geschiedenis’ Hub does not only focus on the Netherlands, but also on collections and projects from Flanders. That’s the task of our colleague Sofie Heyens, a Flemish Open University cultural studies student who is doing an internship with the Oral History Hub. She’s mapping out which museums, libraries, archives, heritage cells or other heritage associations make use of oral history in current projects. She’s also trying to gain insight into interview collections that were taken in the past.

 

Sofie Heyens: “I am curious to see which heritage organisations in Flanders and Brussels are currently working on oral history. In addition, I would also like to draw more attention to the existing collections. Many organisations store interviews that contain wonderful information. But they are difficult to find, sometimes because they have not yet been digitised, with the result that they are rarely consulted in practice. It is my goal to put these oral history treasures more in the spotlight via the ‘Sprekende geschiedenis’ website.”

 

Are you a museum, archive, heritage library or heritage organisation committed to oral history and do you want to contribute to making these collections visible? Then register your collections and your current projects that make use of oral history. If you have any questions while filling in the form, or if you would like to know more about this research, please contact Sofie Heyens (sofieheyens@me.com).

 

In the Netherlands, a Hub is being set up, but also in Flanders a lot is happening in the field of oral history. In the long term, FARO wants to develop a practice-oriented training programme around this topic, together with the Schafttijd project and other partners from the heritage field. Would you like to think along with us and share experiences? Then read on here.

 

Photo: CoWomen via Unsplash

Review of the “Sprekende geschiedenis” kick-off meeting

 

On 28 January, the Kick-off meeting of the Oral History Hub ‘Sprekende geschiedenis’ took place at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Experts from various disciplines discussed the current state of oral history in the Netherlands, their future expectations and desirable developments in this area.

 

The BMP Foundation, together with various partners, organised this meeting to:

  • Mark the start of the Hub
  • Announce the programme of the Hub
  • Hear from the oral history community in the Netherlands about their expectations of the Hub.

 

You can download a report of the kick-off meeting here. You can watch the broadcast here.

 

Review of first Oral History and Heritage workshop

 

On Friday 18 March, the Cultural Heritage Agency in cooperation with the “Sprekende geschiedenis” Hub organised the first workshop on ‘Oral History and Heritage’ in Amersfoort. The workshop provided great examples and valuable insights.

 

Oral history and heritage

A group of about 25 people first received a short presentation by Saskia Moerbeek of the Centre about oral history as a discipline and the relationship between oral history and heritage. The special thing about this relationship is that oral history can not only contribute to a deeper meaning of, for example, material heritage, but that it is also, of course, in itself intangible heritage. And it is also a good way of involving people and groups in heritage. People often like to tell stories about the meaning that objects, buildings, movable property, landscapes and cultural traditions have for them. Based on this, they also like to think about the design of public presentations.

 

The workshop participants were able to name a whole range of examples of heritage projects in which oral history plays a role. Think of different perspectives on the outbreak of swine fever 25 years ago. Or the stories of sisters of a certain monastic order in Limburg. Many great ideas for new projects were also generated. These examples will soon be posted on the Speaking History website as ongoing projects.

 

The art of interviewing

After the break, the topic was the art of interviewing. The essence of an oral history interview is that you get people to talk, that you yourself are mainly a listener and that you pay attention to the life story of the interviewee, because that provides the context from which someone tells their story.  After a brief introduction by Frank von Meijenfeldt of the Hub, the participants went to work in threes to interview each other about a cherished object or building. One of the three acted as observer.

 

Pitfalls of the oral history interview

The discussion afterwards revealed that there are a few pitfalls to an oral history interview. It can happen that you get more caught up in a conversation than in letting the interviewee really tell his or her story. There may also be sensitive subjects that are difficult to deal with neutrally as an interviewer.

 

Continued

All in all, it was an instructive afternoon, which will be continued on 15 April with a programme covering transcribing techniques, metadata and making presentations to the public. We will also zoom in on the question of how to involve interviewees and their communities in presentations.