How to do Oral History

Those interested in doing oral history can buy the OHA’s Oral History Handbook by Beth M. Robertson who draws on 30 years’ experience of practising and teaching oral history. The Handbook is regularly updated to cover the latest technology.

States hold regular workshops; contact your local state president for information.

The OHA strongly encourages all practitioners to abide by the Association’s Guidelines of Ethical Practice.

The OHA offers two further brochures: Guidelines on Fees for Interviewing and Transcription and A Guide to Commissioning Oral History Projects.

People wishing to pursue oral history further may consider an Australian university course (see below).

Columbia University in New York also offers an Oral History Master of Arts Program and a Summer School in Oral History: http://oralhistory.columbia.edu

Oral History courses at Australian universities

New South Wales 

University of New England, Armidale

UNE has taught oral history since the early 1980s.  The specific oral history unit HIST376 is part of a suite of applied history units that are available to internal and external students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels including in the Advanced and Graduate Diplomas in Local, Family and Applied History and the new Bachelor of Historical Inquiry and Practice.

There is also the opportunity to do postgraduate research in oral history as part of a Masters coursework program (UNE offers a dedicated Master of History as well as a Master of Arts), or as a focus for higher degree research for MA, Honours or PhD.

UNE has a track record in teaching by distance education as well as on campus, and courses are now available online. You can study at home and from anywhere in Australia or, indeed, the world.

Contact: Janis Wilton– jwilton@une.edu.au

Queensland

Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane

QUT has two oral history related courses.  These are KKP405 Co-Creative Media: Digital Storytelling and KKP403 Transmedia Storytelling From Interview to Multiplatform.

Both of these are post graduate courses run at QUT.  Students who are studying at other universities are welcome to do the unit as an elective, if their university lets them.

Anyone can enrol in these courses, even if they are not enrolled in a course. QUT also offers a variation of these as a CPE (Continuing Professional Education course) which means it is a little cheaper and you do not have to do all the assessment.

QUT also runs these a couple of times a year in intensive mode. These are only available for internal participants (you have to physically be in Brisbane)

Contact: Helen Klaebe  - h.klaebe@qut.edu.au

University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland (USC)

HIS230: Talking History: Memory and the Past is offered to undergraduate students on campus every two years in semester two. It introduces students to the theoretical, methodological, ethical and practical aspects of oral history, enabling them to undertake their own oral history projects in a professional manner.

Contact: David Trudinger - Dtrudinger@usc.edu.au

Victoria 

Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria

Monash University's History Program offers postgraduate coursework in the fields of public and applied history, oral history and membory studies, holocaust and genocide studies, and medieval and religious history.  Postgraduate students can combine coursework with research by enrolling in one of two courses.  Students taking the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts complete two 12-point elective units at level 4 and an 18,000 word research project.  Students taking the Master of Arts by coursework and Research complete two 12-point elective units at level 5 and a 20-25,000 word research thesis.  Some units have a distance education option.  Not all units are offered every year.  For further details about these two courses see: http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/handbooks/aos/history/pg-arts-history.html.

There are also opportunities to pursue oral history-based higher degree research.

Contact: Alistair Thomson - Alistair.Thomson@monash.edu.au

Western Australia 

Murdoch University, Western Australia

SSH205 and SH505: Listening, talking, remembering: the practice of interviewing. This is a new unit being taught by Jan Gothard and Bill Bunbury for the first time in second semester 2011.   It is a cross-disciplinary special topic that introduces techniques of oral history interviewing and incorporates a focus on radio.   It is available on campus to undergraduate, Honours and postgraduate students.

Contact:  Jan Gothard – J.Gothard@Murdoch.edu.au

South Australia

University of South Australia, SA www.unisa.edu.au

The course HUMS 3044 History Workshop: People and Place was first taught in 2012 and combines oral history theory and practice with archival retrieval methods.  It is offered externally as a third year course.

Contact:  Sue Anderson - Sue.Anderson@unisa.edu.au