n Journal for Contemporary History - A critical evaluation of memory as a potential source of evidence for oral history

Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



Oral history is as old as history itself, and constitutes an early branch of historical research. It is a dynamic and creative field, which involves collecting memories and personal commentaries of historical significance by means of recorded interviews. Recordings of the interview are transcribed, indexed and then placed in an archive or library. What is captured by oral history is a segment of human experience in the context of a remembered past, a dynamic present and an unknown, open-ended future. In the process, oral history becomes a link between the immediate present and the immediate past. Oral history involves using an easily understandable and very natural method to gather information through relaxed conversations based on well-planned questions, in order to determine why, how and through what things came to pass. As such, oral history as a source thus becomes a challenge and an adventure in searching for historical evidence, with both opportunities and limita-tions.

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