Whether you want to become more engaged while learning about history, seek to preserve important stories in this digital age or have to fulfill an obligation for volunteer service, a great place to start is an oral history. To conduct an oral history, many established programs have guidelines for you to follow and this page provides valuable tools and information on how to begin. By volunteering your time to record the history of an individual who reveals details regarding a significant era (Civil Rights Movement), historic site (church, school or home) or a specific individual, you actively engage in a meaningful way, build community relationships and bridge generational gaps by connecting with older generations.

Veterans History Project

Participants of this national oral history project can visit the Library of Congress website for more information. Your contribution to a collection of personal accounts of American war veterans provides greater understanding of the realities of war and expands generational understanding, and insight from the perspective of veterans who served in the armed forces.

Oral History to Sustain Tradition and Celebrate Diversity

Familiar with the old adage: “You can’t know where you are going unless you know where you come from?” Sage advice but often ignored. The experiences of elderly neighbors and friends; daily acts of personal service to others; traditions of past times provide insight and depth to our shared lives. Ever wondered how a certain celebration began? 

Ask an elder family, church or community member. You may find great benefit and provide future generations ways to sustain those traditions and gain insight to develop new ideas. 

Share your time and give to a senior citizen and grow in relationship for a meaningful oral history. These suggestions offer a beginning to your journey in discovering traditions and even creating new ones! 

Oral History for Social Change

While an oral history can focus on a single individual or a group of individuals, the resulting projects and their results can often go beyond merely a recording of data. The results of such projects provide researchers with patterns, common themes and very often, solutions to issues. Oral histories can cover a broad range of topics: higher education and African Americans such as the Black Villanova Oral History Project; gender, race and professional attainment, Schlesinger Library Black Women Oral History Project Interviews; environmental issues, government policy and race such as Flint Michigan Water Crisis with StoryCorps a national nonprofit dedicated to public service through listening projects that honor the significance of the singular and collective community voice. These sorts of projects require members of community to listen, but also to connect and followup through panel and group discussions, surveys and other community events to generate awareness and solutions. Whether you choose to participate through a small project or a big one, these projects confirm that everyone's history can be meaningful and impactful. 
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