Presentation: Students “Doing” Oral History

On October 12, 2012, I chaired the “Out of the Classroom and into the Community: Students Doing Oral History” panel at the Oral History Association’s annual meeting in Cleveland, OH. My colleague Julie Golia helped co-author the paper, and I presented for both of us.

In this presentation, I discussed an unsuccessful pilot collaboration in which undergraduate students conducted oral histories. Although students in this class demonstrated the same increase in engagement and academic performance as other SAFA students, this particular aspect of the SAFA collaboration (the oral history project) was stopped short for several reasons, including: technical compliance and feasibility, differing philosophies on oral history, and a wide variety of pedagogical needs.

It is often said that we learn more from our failures than from our successes, and I received great feedback on sharing a case study which never really got off the ground as expected. I shared the lessons learned, offered ideas for improvements, and explained what we managed to salvage from this project. Future successful collaborations with undergraduate interviewers could definitely build on the tools developed and lessons learned from this project.

Katz, Robin M. and Julie Golia. “Creating the Civil Rights in Brooklyn Collection: Struggles and Lessons in Facilitating Undergraduate Oral History Projects.” Oral History Association Annual Meeting. Cleveland, OH. October 12, 2012. Chair and panelist.

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