The Oral History Reader

2nd Edition

Edited by Alistair Thomson

© 2006 – Routledge

592 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415343039
pub: 2006-04-07
US Dollars$48.95
Hardback: 9780415343022
pub: 2006-04-21
US Dollars$145.00

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

This greatly anticipated update of The Oral History Reader is a comprehensive, international anthology of major, ‘classic’ articles and cutting-edge pieces on the theory, method and use of oral history.

This wide-ranging volume illustrates similarities and differences in oral history from around the world, including examples from North and South America, Britain and Europe, Australasia, Asia and Africa. It also details the subjects – such as women's history, family history, gay and lesbian history, ethnic history and disability history – to which oral history has made a significant contribution.

This second edition is arranged into five thematic sections. The collection details issues in the theory and practice of oral history and covers influential debates in its development over the past sixty years. New chapters include:

  • interview methods and the oral history relationship
  • the use of testimony in truth and reconciliation politics
  • memory and interpretation
  • the digital revolution and new technologies for the creation, use and dissemination of oral history
  • community oral history projects
  • memory and history.

The Oral History Reader is an essential tool for all students of modern history, memory studies, sociology, anthropology, media studies, cultural and heritage studies, gerontology and archives, library and information studies.


'This is the book I've been waiting for: a fat, stimulating and carefully selected and edited collection of significant contributions on oral history theory and practice….I recommend it to anyone embarking on or already immersed in the challenges, delights and stimulation of oral history work' Oral History

'It provides a rich resource for oral history students, practitioners and researchers in diverse settings. And it offers more traditional historians another powerful perspective on history' Social History of Medicine

'By far the most comprehensive, valuable collection of articles on the topic in the English language…Their historical sweep, from some of the earliest pieces on interviewing to the recent explorations of the use of new technology, offer something to both the novice and the seasoned practitioner…The remarkable collection is a boon to students and teachers alike' Sherna Berger Gluck, Oral History Program California State University, Long Beach

'Such a clever and well-informed selection… The Oral History Reader 2006 is an affirmation that second (and subsequent editions) are important… This second edition of The Oral History Reader will certainly remain a prescribed text for my students and essential reading for anyone interested in oral history.' Janis Wilton, Oral History

'Oral history sits at the frontiers of the disciplines and activities that it traverses and as such, does keep pushing boundaries, and that pushing is well represented here.' Janis Wilton, Oral History 2007

'This book has depth as well as breadth… Each section contains articles remarkable for insights and spurs to thinking. I whole-heartedly recommend the Oral History Reader both to the seasoned practitioner ahead of current thinking in the field of oral history and also to the instructor considering adopting this inclusive and stimulating text for newcomers to oral history.' - The Oral History Review

Table of Contents

Introduction to second edition. Part 1: Critical developments. Introduction. 1. Black history, oral history and genealogy Alex Haley 2. The voice of the past: oral history Paul Thompson 3. What makes oral history different Alessandro Portelli 4. Popular memory: theory, politics, method Popular Memory Group 5. ‘Do I like them too much?’: effects of the oral history interview on the interviewer and vice-versa Valerie Yow 6. Reflections on women’s oral history: an exchange Susan H. Armitage and Sherna Berger Gluck 7. ‘Listening in the cold’: the practice of oral history in an Argentine meatpacking community Daniel James 8. Oral history and the digital revolution: toward a post-documentary sensibility Michael Frisch Part 2: Interviewing. Introduction. 9. Interviewing an interviewer Studs Terkel with Tony Parker 10. Learning to listen: interview techniques and analyses Kathryn Anderson and Dana C. Jack 11. Ways of listening: different approaches to interviewing Hugo Slim and Paul Thompson, with Olivia Bennett and Nigel Cross 12. Interviewing the women of Phokeng: consciousness and gender, insider and outsider Belinda Bozzoli 13. Issues in cross-cultural interviewing: Japanese women in England Susan K. Burton 14. Family myths, memories and interviewing Ruth Finnegan 15. Life history interviews with people with learning disabilities Jan Walmsley 16. Navigating life review interviews with survivors of trauma Mark Klempner Part 3: Interpreting memories. Introduction. 17. Remembering a vietnam war firefight: changing perspectives over time Fred Allison 18. Surviving memory: truth and inaccuracy in holocaust testimony Mark Roseman 19. Anzac memories: putting popular memory theory into practice in Australia Alistair Thomson 20. Structure and validity in oral evidence Trevor Lummis 21. Oral history and the study of communities: problems, paradoxes and possibilities Linda Shopes 22. Telling tales: oral history and the construction of pre-stonewall lesbian history Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy 23. Memory work in java: a cautionary tale Ann Laura Stoler with Karen Strassler 24. ‘That’s not what I said’: interpretative conflict in oral narrative research Katherine Borland 25. Evidence, empathy and ethics: lessons from oral histories of the Klan Kathleen Blee Part 4: Making histories. Introduction. 26. Oral history in the archives: its documentary role in the twenty-first century Ellen D. Swain 27. Voice, ear and text: words, meaning and transcription Francis Good 28. Reminiscence as literacy: intersections and creative moments Jane Mace 29. ‘What the wind won’t take away’: the genesis of Nisa - the life and words of a !kung woman Marjorie Shostak 30. Authoring in sound: aural history, radio and the digital revolution Charles Hardy III 31. The future of oral history and moving images Dan Sipe 32. The exhibition that speaks for itself: oral history and museums Anna Green 33. Linked: a landmark in sound, a public walk of art Toby Butler and Graeme Miller 34. Cyber-teaching in the oral history classroom Rina Benmayor Part 5: Advocacy and empowerment. Introduction. 35. Reminiscence and oral history: parallel universes or shared endeavour? Joanna Bornat 36. Voices of experience: oral history in the classroom Cliff Kuhn and Marjorie L. Mclellan 37. ‘We know what the problem is’: using video and radio oral history to develop collaborative analysis of homelessness Daniel Kerr 38. Central American refugee testimonies and performed life histories in the sanctuary movement William Westerman 39. Stolen generations testimony: trauma, historiography and the question of ‘truth’ Rosanne Kennedy 40. The Gulag in Memory Irina Sherbakova 41. 'You understand again': Testimony and post-conflict transition in the North of Ireland Patricia Lundy and Mark McGovern 42. The Sahel oral history project Nigel Cross and Rhiannon Barker 43. Leprosy in India: The intervention of oral history Sanjiv Kakar. Select bibliography. Useful contacts. Index.

About the Series

Routledge Readers in History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Social History