Oral History

Oral History is a term commonly used in the context of research practices based on the use of spoken word material as a source for historical research. From the interviewing of eye-witnesses in historical events, to the analysis of interviews as a historical source, to the collecting and archiving of recorded interviews and stories, all stages in the process are associated with the umbrella notion Oral History. This makes the term both hard to define and meaningful in a broad field of historical research.

Oral History is sometimes seen as a relatively new method of historical research in the scope of academic historiography, beginning to rise in the mid-20th century. Important in the shift towards the use of oral sources are advancements in portable recording technology, combined with a new interest in on the one side the personal experience of historical events, and on the other the common man’s story within history research.

With the Digital Age coming in full swing at the start of 21st century, Oral History has begun to experience a paradigm shift. The internet is becoming an important place for oral history archives, making sources more publicly available. Digital tools are more and more adopted within the field, bringing previously tedious or even impossible research steps only mouse-clicks away. Mobile phones are making the recording of oral history available for virtually anyone interested. These developments have given the oral historian great expectations and new possibilities, but also received strong criticism, and the doubts and possible pitfalls associated with the digitalisation of the Oral History landscape have a crucially impact on the appreciation of what is technologically feasible.

The main goal of this website is to give an overview of technology that can be used in the processing of Oral History resources and interview data in general: from an analogue tape and perhaps a handwritten summary to a digital recording including digital transcripts, speaker allocation/recognition (who is speaking when), emotion-markers, speech velocity and much more.