2021 Conference paper: Oral histories as sources for family historians: A challenge for oral historians and the GLAM sector


I’m delighted to be presenting a paper in a panel with Linda Hunt, Terry Young and Kate Bagnall about oral history and family history at the 2021 Oral History Association Biennial Conference in Launceston 14-16 October.

Abstract: Oral histories offer a potentially rich source of information for those researching their family histories. For example, since the 1980s hundreds of oral histories have been recorded with Chinese Australians in response to the growth in oral history as a methodology to help better understand the lives of those outside the dominant narratives of white men. But how do we make such interviews accessible to family historians? Chinese Australian oral history interviews are held in libraries, archives and museums across Australia. Not all have permissions documentation, have been transcribed, have summaries, have been digitised, or are discoverable online. Accessing them can be difficult, depending on the resources of the repository. These oral histories were also created for different purposes, by different people, at different times, and with different cohorts of Chinese Australians. Once family historians have access to oral histories, how do we help them to appreciate the complexity of understanding what they are accessing? Using the case study of Chinese Australian oral histories held in GLAM institutions, this paper aims to start a broader discussion about how we might overcome these challenges and facilitate use by family histories.

Excerpt from display about Museum of Chinese Australian History oral history project ‘Saving Chinese-Australian Memories from the White Australia Period‘,
held at Chinese Museum Annual dinner, Melbourne, 2013

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