Posts Tagged ‘Oral History’

Dialing Into the History of La Crosse

Humanities Programs in Focus | July 28, 2016 | By:

Hear Here sign in downtown La Crosse

“[O]ur heritage is complicated and nuanced. New forms of history include more voices, which means acknowledging more aspects of our past and present and taking into consideration the narratives of both the winners and the losers.” -Ariel Beaujot, Project Director for Hear, Here, an interactive oral history of La Crosse

Hear, Here is the first project of the new Public and Policy History Major in the UW-La Crosse Department of History. When the Project Director and Associate Professor of History, Ariel Beaujot, pitched her interactive oral history idea for a Major Grant to the WHC in 2014, she wrote, “This is street level history.”

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What Is(n’t) Oral History. Or, the Rise of the “Oral History of [Fill in the Blank].”

Tips for Grant Writers, Voices from the Field | November 18, 2015 | By:



Troy Reeves works as an Oral Historian for the UW-Madison Archives, which is a part of the UW-Madison Libraries. For over ten years,  Troy has been keeping an eye on where and how the term ‘oral history’ pops up on the internet. It turns out that not all of the claims meet his professional criteria for best-practices in recording, preserving and archiving personal stories. 

After arguing for the power and the value of Oral History in a previous Humanities Booyah article, he suggested it might be useful to address the common use of the term for those of us working in the public humanities. Troy’s love for pop-culture doesn’t mean he wants to see the work of Oral Historians go completely rogue, at least not entirely.

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Working Lives: Teaching and Learning from Stories

Voices from the Field | July 15, 2015 | By:

from Alison re Oral History

Alison Staudinger is interested in how we understand and value our work. Based on her research, she sees that societal and personal values about work shape how individuals feel about what kind of power they have in daily life, and the world. She is working on a book about  how the 18th Amendment, which made it illegal to consume, produce or sell alcohol, was in part an attempt to give women more equal power in household economies. For her research, she depends on sources, like oral histories, that shed light on the lives of less powerful players in history, such as women. She says, “Democratic theory asks us to reconsider power, especially the power to have one’s voice heard. If democracy requires many empowered voices, then [we] should work on projects like oral histories that look for more voices. We should also work with students and other non-experts to advance the communal production of knowledge and memory.”

Staudinger teaches for Democracy and Justice Studies, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay that is devoted to exploring the history and future of social change and justice. She specializes in democratic theory, but also teaches law, gender, and political science courses.

WorkingLives-100pxWe are happy to announce that Alison Staudinger will be available for speaking engagements as part of “Shop Talk: Conversations About Work in Wisconsin” starting this fall. Using our Shop Talk catalog and online application, groups such as libraries and historical societies can host Staudinger (and others!) as part of our Working Lives Project.  Staudinger will be offering a number of different talks, including one that discusses her classroom project, “Life’s Work,” detailed below.

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As I was growing up, I learned about the railroads from my Grandpa Staudinger’s stories. From my Grandpa Schalppi, I learned about dairy farming.  I know that railroad union brothers are like family and that you come home from the yard covered in dust.  I know that dairy farmers get up very early and, long before the research proved it, that cows prefer to be called by name.

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What Good Oral History Is All About

Tips for Grant Writers, Voices from the Field | May 20, 2015 | By:

IMG_0409Troy Reeves oversees what he casually calls ‘oral history activities’ at the UW-Madison Archives, which is a part of the UW-Madison Libraries. He came to Wisconsin via Idaho, where he was Idaho’s Oral Historian (employed by their state historical society). Over the past eight years he has converted the UW collection’s audio oral histories from analog to digital and been extremely proactive around the state to support and facilitate oral history projects.

Since his arrival in 2007, Troy’s expertise as an oral historian has been highly sought after. In fact, he has been involved as a consultant in so many WHC-funded grants, we wonder if he has cloned himself to get all the work done. Until recently he was the only full-time oral historian at the state or university level.

Troy believes strongly in the power, and value, of oral histories. So we asked him to share with you some of what he does when he is working with groups to get oral history projects started on solid footing.

Important Things to Know about Oral History: A Short Essay on a Big Topic

I’ve been a professional oral historian for just about 16 years.  I still remember my first public presentation, back in 1999, on the topic. But not for what I said. Rather for the first question (really two) asked of me:

“Who are you?” And “What are you doing here?” Read More