Some Key Concepts
Margo Shea and Lindy Whiton share their expertise and enthusiasm for oral histories
- How can I make the person I’m interviewing feel comfortable/safe?
- Who do I know who has an interesting story to tell?
- How do I make sure I’m not taking over the story, but letting the other person be the center of attention?
“We are all practitioners of oral history, we listen and we share, and we frame our experiences, through our memories, which themselves are incredibly social. So…we can be better at it, but at a very fundamental level, we are already all practitioners seems such an important thing to say, in the context of the project that you all are working on.”Margo Shea
“I love listening to people’s stories, And I like trying to think about how to put them together in some sort of meaningful way that allows others access to them. And so that’s why I think it’s an important tool in this specific group of trainings that ECHO is doing. It’s an important tool for people to have in their tool chest.”Lindy Whiton
Project Suggestions and Ways to Practice
- Practice interviewing a good friend and being interviewed in turn. Give each other feedback about when you each were most helpful as an interviewer and when you were least helpful.
- Interview someone in your extended family or neighborhood about a topic you are curious about and they know something about.
About the Presenters
Dr. Margo Shea is a public historian and an Associate Professor of History at Salem State College. As a scholar and researcher, she is interested in memory; exploring the contexts within which people experience, articulate, express and respond to the past in the present. On her website, she notes: “I am interested in participatory memory work at every level, so I initiate projects, advise on them, teach students how to implement them and study them ethnographically. The ways we reflect on, live through and transcend the past is my passion.” She is author of Derry City: Memory, and Political Struggle in Northern Ireland (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020).
ECHO Project Director Dr. Lindy Whiton’s dissertation was on the development of curriculum for teaching adults reading and writing. She co-founded The Literacy Project of Western Massachusetts, and developed a program design incorporating participator education, learner-centered methodologies, and oral histories in the curriculum. She has trained adult educators throughout New England, and has collected and published oral histories of literacy project students. In retirement, she is focusing on poetry and photography to bring the voices of neglected populations to the forefront.