Starting with this posting, and over the next months we will successively publish our thoughts on three vital topics. These are:
- The extent to which potential users of our national archives are actually aware of the existence of the oral histories held by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA);
- The realities and challenges of access to those oral history recordings; and
- The usage of those oral histories.
For over 30 years, AMOHG and the staff of the NFSA have struggled with these matters, coping with a system that is able to absorb oral history memory but seems almost incapable of releasing it to new purpose.
The intrinsic dignity of each oral history and the life it represents is, in the end, its inviolable value. But its utility is also important – how, as an artefact, it can be handled, listened to and its insights turned into discovery, delight, information and use for generations to come.
With these postings, 30 years on, we are working with renewed effort to get the NFSA’s oral history holdings known and used.
Our first posting discusses some overall aspects of how the nature of oral history may affect knowledge of it.
The next post examines some of the challenges in discovering what oral histories are in the NFSA collection, and indeed what is contained in each one.
Thirdly, we consider how the the collection is used, or might be used more.