MALS Oral History Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 2, March 7, 2003                   

As promised after the successful inaugural Oral History Circle in November, Professors Harvey and Myrna Katz Frommer hosted the second MALS Oral History Circle on January 23.  This more intimate gathering of oral historians fostered a comfortable, collegial atmosphere perfect for sharing stories of past successes and challenges, as well as brainstorming for future projects.

The circle's attendees discussed a variety of oral history projects, ranging from those well under way to those still in the "that's a great idea" stage.  Some projects being undertaken are intensely personal.  Myrna is working on an oral history of a ninety-year-old woman whom she has known for thirty years.  The woman's children wanted a record of their mother's life and the final product will be privately published.  On the other hand, some projects are more political.  The Frommers updated the group on the progress of their thesis students, including Luke Fleming who is working on an oral history of the New Hampshire presidential primary.  The one instance during the evening's discussion where no good advice surfaced was regarding how Luke might be able to secure an interview with Jimmy Carter given his post-Nobel Peace Prize resurgence.

Near the close of the session, a possible topic for a future meeting of the Oral History Circle, or some subset of it, was raised.  Many attendees are concerned with the legal issues surrounding the gathering, transcribing, and use of other people's narratives.  Many had questions about how and why to get written or spoken disclaimers and whether or not publication affects this process.  If anyone has experiences or helpful resources for dealing with legal issues in oral history, please let us know.

Stay tuned to your email for details about Oral History Circle III, to be scheduled for the spring term.

Oral History Circle II

Liz Moussinova, who has finished her MALS degree and is in the process of applying to Ph.D. programs, is currently involved in a unique project at Dartmouth - she has been digitizing recordings for the Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive. The archive's mission is "to provide scholarly access to recordings that are not commercially available and to assemble related information that can aid in the study of Jewish music and culture, Jewish society, and the history of Jewish recording."  Some of the recordings included are from Harvey and Myrna's personal archives of oral history interviews they have conducted.  More information about the project is available at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~damell/hebrew/news_djsa.html

The article about the first gathering of the Oral History Circle in the Fall 2002 issue of MALS Quarterly elicited some interesting feedback to the MALS Oral History Newsletter, including an email from MALS graduate Glenn Whitman.  Glenn became interested in oral history as a freshman at Dickinson College where he interviewed Vietnam veterans about the Tet Offensive for a Historical Methods course.  He now teaches at St. Andrew's Episcopal School where he uses oral history with his students.  He is writing a book based on these experiences.  A first draft of "A Dialog with the Past: Empowering Students to be Oral Historians" will be finished in July.  For a sense of the work Glenn has been doing, visit the project's excellent website at www.doingoralhistory.org


Preserving the Past: Oral History (MALS 191) will be taught by Harvey Frommer and Myrna Katz Frommer on Thursday evenings this coming spring term.

This newsletter is sent via email once a term and is intended to keep all of us connected and informed about what is happening in the oral history community.  Do you have a response to one of these articles?  Are you currently working on an oral history project?  Do you know of a new publication or grant opportunity we all should know about? 

Please let us know! Maria Graham, Editor, maria.graham@dartmouth.edu



Contact Myrna or Harvey