Friday, October 27, 2006

Musings on Oral History

For me, the process of conducting an oral history interview is a humbling experience. As I sit at the table with a list of questions in front of me and a tape recorder quietly whirring between my narrator and myself, I find I am in an awkward quandary. I am both the master and the learner. I am being entrusted with a lifetime of memories, yet I am being entrusted with a lifetime of memories. I am responsible for this story and for ensuring the narrators’ experiences are related in a fair and honest manner. I suddenly feel insignificant as I listen to these women recount their memories. Whether it relates to World War II or a comical childhood event, I am grateful for the trust they have placed in me. It takes a great deal of courage to share ones memories of living in the Third Reich, and I am honored to join the privileged group of scholars who are forever preserving the individuals memory by means of oral history.

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