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What is oral history?


Oral history is the collection and study of life stories, people’s testimonies about historical events, and records the meaning they give to their surroundings. It concerns stories that are collected by means of (open) interviews and by using other oral sources. Oral history tells the stories of groups and communities that are little covered in historiography and thus contributes to new and different perspectives on contemporary history.

Using (digital) sound files and videos, oral history provides an auditory and visual record for future generations.


The importance of oral history

Oral history is important for giving meaning and forming identity. Telling a personal story helps to see one’s own life in perspective and to be able to place it in a broader (historical) context. The stories collected in oral history projects form the basis of numerous cultural productions. In the current era of social media and online work, oral history is an excellent way to increase people’s historical awareness and knowledge about history and their own culture. This involves both listening to existing stories and conducting interviews oneself.