Oral History and Family Stories

6 May

by Regina Mangun-

In class we discussed oral history and then we were given an assignment to interview someone significant in our life. I interviewed my mother and asked her about growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the stories she told me I had already heard before, but I did not remember the exact details. I was glad to be recording because I knew that now I would always have that information available to me.

I enjoyed the oral history assignment because it made me realize the value of interviewing and recording someone’s history. We discussed in class how the information provided in the interview is not always factual and how a person who is not necessarily an educated historian is providing it. I believe that when conducting an interview, the emotion behind the stories is more important than how accurate the information is. Oral history offers the ability to hear an “average Joe’s” point of view, which people can relate with more, as opposed to trying to remember straight facts.

From my experience of interviewing my mother, I realized that there are a lot of family stories that will probably not be passed down because the next generation in my family has not heard them. My mother is the oldest of seven and I know that her younger siblings often ask her for clarification of family stories because they were too young at the time to remember it themselves. My family is very close and I am one of the older cousins. It occurred to me that some day my younger cousins might come to me asking about our family history and fun stories. I want to be able to share our family history with them, and I am going to try and use oral history to do that. I know that I personally have a terrible memory when it comes to retelling a story, but I am going to try and record some of our family stories so they can be shared for generations to come.


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