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April 4 | Oral History and Archives: Voice, Storytelling, and Narrative in Historical Research

  • Columbia University, Knox Hall 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)
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When: Thursday, April 4 2019, 6:10- 7:30pm

Where:  509 Knox Hall

When oral histories end up in an archival repository, they live alongside other sources. How do historians bring these different kinds of sources together when they write?

This talk explores methods for blending oral history interviews and archival materials in developing narrative driven writing. Oral histories provide unique opportunities for scholarly and popular writers, especially when combined with "traditional" primary sources drawn from archives. By tracing several recent examples, the talk will explore how oral histories might provide unique and invaluable insights into important historical questions while also engaging different audiences. Through embracing the unique voices expressed in oral history sources, writers can learn to make their narratives more engaging while simultaneously supporting significant scholarly arguments.

Samuel J. Redman is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he leads the recently organized UMass Oral History Lab. The UMass Oral History Lab serves to improve oral history projects of all kinds, building collaborations with students, scholars, and community organizations. Before starting at UMass, Redman served as Lead Interviewer for the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front Oral History Project at the University of California, Berkeley. He also helped to launch oral history projects on the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge, Japanese American Confinement during World War II, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. His first book, Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums was published by Harvard University Press in 2016.