One thing we heard a lot during SuperCon was an interest in creating new heritage materials in communities in Ontario and across Canada. Many of our VITA members (and some new organizations too!) are looking into local activities like digitizing borrowed material from residents, and conducting oral histories.
We’re compiling a list with some guides and tools for running an oral history project. Here are some of our favourites:
- The Ontario Historical Society published an invaluable roundup of oral-history resources in 2015, and many of these materials are still relevant.
- “The Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO) offers Collecting Voices: Oral History Workshop. MHSO notes that this workshop is intended as an introduction and “how-to” for community groups undertaking local history projects.”
- “Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 www.pier21.ca/research/oral-history/oral-history“
- “Canadian Oral History Association www.canoha.ca/“
- “Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling: http://storytelling.concordia.ca/“
- “Oral History Forum www.oralhistoryforum.ca/index.php/ohf“
- We especially want to point you to the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre as a wonderful place to learn about a variety of technical methods for recording and digitizing oral histories old and new.
They’re also building an index of oral histories across Canada.
- The Oral History Association in the United States has the ultimate principles and best practices for oral history.
They also have an excellent list of standards and guidelines for things like formatting transcriptions consistently, including this “quick guide” to conceptualizing an oral history project in eight steps from the University of Florida.
- When creating transcriptions of interviews, you have lots of options and a few best practices to follow. Andrea Eidinger has put together a great roundup of things to know about transcribing, and a few tools and prices for you to consider.
If you’re thinking about VITA as a platform for oral histories, we provide a number of guides in our helpsite: Working with Audio, and a webinar recording on Adding Audio Files.
We also have a number of members whose collections contain oral history materials you can look to as an example of how it works:
- The interviews with Petawawa locals give single audio files and provides timestamps in the notes with topics.
- The Head, Clara & Maria Public Library interviews have broken audio recordings into distinct chapters with topics as titles.
- Villages to City: An Oral History of Vaughan includes PDF transcripts, PDF summaries, and an audio file to stream or download.
- Through Our Eyes in Brampton uploaded WMVs and pictures of interviewees for download, and embeds & links to Youtube uploads as well.
- The Brighton I Remember project took a different approach – allowing community residents to tell their own stories with materials from the archives as prompts and inspiration.
- The oral histories of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake have inputted interview transcriptions into the item-record metadata, as well as provided a PDF copy for download, along with streaming and MP3 downloads. Some interviews are videos available for download.
- Similarly, Wilmette’s oral histories display the chapter transcription right in the metadata, and provide a PDF download, but the audio files themselves can only be streamed.
- West Vancouver Public Library recently produced three video interviews with war veterans for their Research To Remember project, broken into small chapters, and with PDF transcripts for each. You can read their press release here.
- Kawartha Lakes Public Library digitized audiocassette interviews originally created in 1977!
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