What is the Oral History Association Educator’s Resource?

The Oral History Association (OHA) defines Oral History as “The recording in interview form of personal narratives from people with first-hand knowledge of historical events or current events.”

Oral histories can be used in education as primary and secondary sources for researching historical and current events.  Importantly, oral histories provide personal perspectives and can humanize the past.  Because of their personal narrative quality, many times oral histories can help to emotionally engage students in a subject matter.

In practice, oral histories can provide many skill building opportunities for students, including interpersonal communication, critical thinking, language development, empathetic listening, inquiry based thinking, creative expression, and applications in technology—to name a few.

If you are considering how to apply Oral History into your curricula, you might start with a classroom guide of Principles and Best Practices specifically for 4-12th grade levels prepared by the OHA in collaboration with History®. The guide can be used as an introduction for various educational and community scenarios and as a starting point for classrooms or communities undertaking oral history research.

The Oral History Educator’s Resource Project builds on the success of the classroom guide and provides practical information and links to resources for educators at all levels to utilize oral history with their students.  Organized by the OHA Education Committee, this resource project is meant to be a collaborative endeavor for educators and community oral historians to share and contribute to the resource collection.  As such, this resource project will perpetually build upon and make connections to the classroom guide.  Eventually, the resource project will provide educational materials for levels beyond secondary and high school levels. If you would like to contribute resources please contact the current Education Committee chairperson, Dr. Erin Conlin, elconlin@iup.edu.

The following resources provide information all aspects of oral history that can be used to build a foundation for educational engagement:

Do History
Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History

Baylor University
Institute for Oral History

The American Folklife Center

University of California Santa Cruz
Oral History Primer

Louisiana State University
Center for Oral History

University of Kentucky
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Teacher’s Guide to Oral History by Cliff Mayotte

Local Learning: The National Network for Folkarts in Education
Local Learning Tools

Oral History in the Digital Age

Center for Oral History Research

History Matters

University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of the American South
Southern Oral History Program

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