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 I like visiting museums.  No matter where I have lived, I have always made it a point to visit them.  Having a great love of Native American history, when I moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, the first museum I visited was the Museum of the American Indian.  This museum is located in a very large building in southern Manhattan that features revolving exhibits throughout the year.  What I noticed, upon my visit, was the lack of oral history in the telling of the Native American experience. 

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Oral history is evolving and continues to be a platform to study and propose change and activism. What we’ve come to understand as oral history has been turned upside down.

Catherine Charlebois, Curator with the Centre D’histoire De Montreal, adds another sentence to the developing definition of oral history.

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As an oral historian, I am committed to using my work to engage communities in the present. In keeping with this commitment, I would probably steer clear of institutions with names like “Brooklyn Historical Society.”  However, the name Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) belies the innovation and deep level of community engagement that this institution and its projects embody.

Once upon a time, oral histories were recorded solely by researchers who tucked them away neatly into archives deemed for academic research; many were never heard from again. However, with the variety of technology available today, many former methods have been called into question so that valuable records may be fully utilized by historians as well as non-historians.

My curriculum vitae has become as significant to my success as the actual 
professional and academic experiences that fill the two page long document. Many 
of these experiences I cherished; however, there were quite a few that I simply 
endured. Right after college I agreed to be a researcher for a start-up company that 
never quite started and never actually paid me for the days I spent in the office 
alone while my boss made up and broke up with her boyfriend.

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This summer Nicki Pombier Berger [OHMA 2013] launched an innovative oral history project in partnership with Toward Independent Living and Learning, Inc (TILL), a Massachusetts-based agency serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

 

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After reading from Abbie Reese’s book Dedicated to God, I was struck with some vague notion that being an oral historian is not all that different from being a nun. It seems absurd. What insights can a life devoted to God shine on the practice of oral history? Well, I noticed some patterns, mainly revolving around this word: sacrifice. I read about the sacrifices the nuns are required to make, including vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and enclosure. A nun makes her vows, including removing herself from the world, in order to pray for humankind, or to put it simply, to help people reach heaven.

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Perhaps, dear reader, you are a prospective OHMA student, researching the field or oral history, considering that next great leap of faith called graduate school.  Or perhaps you have taken that leap, you are an OHMA student, buried in reading, writing, and research with only a vague sense that one day you will be dumped out onto the cold, hard streets of New York with nothing but a shake of the hand and a stroll across the stage. 

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I recently published an article—available here —in which I argued that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should create a public interviewing guide. The ICC should do so because it has a well-recognized statutory duty to protect those who put themselves at risk on account of the ICC’s work, and ICC interviewers put themselves at risk.

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I have been interviewing veterans for four and a half years now. I have interviewed members of my family, veterans that are over seventy years older than I, veterans that could have been in my graduating class in undergrad, veterans that have fought in the Middle East, in Europe, and in Southeast Asia.

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For nearly two decades, cities across the United States, like Atlanta, New Orleans, and Chicago, have undergone urban renewal projects, removing high rise public housing to clear the way for new, multimillion dollar developments. The story of public housing in Chicago is one of the most well-known in the nation.

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It’s a sunny day in Hebron. We walk down Shuhada Street, the once-bustling main drag running through the Casbah. The street is deserted, the shops welded shut. Amid the broken windows, olive trees, and piles of debris, soldiers stand in pillboxes on the corners and run group patrols through the streets. Arab children wave down to us from their windows, unable to walk on the restricted streets below.

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On October 24, 2013, Muriel Miguel presented a talk with a slide/video accompaniment on her life work.  I felt quite honored to meet, sit and listen to Muriel speak. 

Muriel Miguel has spent her life working in the performance arts.  She is an actress, dancer, choreographer, educator, playwright and director.

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