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Monday 11 December
My.Anglia > Faculties > Alss > Miners strike > The Value of Oral History

The Value of Oral History

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We chose to conduct these oral history interviews because:

  • Oral history enables individuals to tell their own stories in their own words.
  • Oral history is a form of ‘history from below’ in that it give a voice to individuals and groups who have been marginalized or hidden from history and whose experiences might otherwise be omitted from the historical record.
  • Oral history enables the historian to ask whatever questions they wish and then to acquire the information that help to answer these same questions removing their reliance on primary resources produced by others.
  • Oral history can provide alternative explanations and different insights and is a source of new perspectives that may challenge our view of the past.
  • It can creates new knowledge in instances where written records were not created at the time or have been subsequently lost or destroyed.
  • It is interactive and co-operative enabling the interviewer and interview to participate in the experience of making history together.
  • The spoken word can convey feelings and emotions vividly and effectively to the listener as well as the richness and variety of local accents and dialects.
  • Oral history records personal and subjective form of personal evidence that allow individuals to express their own values and beliefs and to reflect upon at a distance from the events they narrate from memory. 
  • Oral history records and helps us to understand failure as well as success.
  • Since many who lived through events that are subsequently of interest to the historian will be old and frail by the time they come to be interviewed,  oral history  is a way of preserving first- hand testimony which would otherwise be unavailable  to future generations.