Oral History Projects Overview P.1

Here are a few favorites. All online access.  All using maps.

Founded in 1997, Densho is dedicated to the preservation and access of oral history materials on the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II. Developed by information technology executives this collection includes access to over 400 digitally native video histories and is one of the most comprehensive digital archives of its kind. As an archive its primary role is to provide access to this primary course material. However, they have also crafted more specific sections that highlight content in a more exhibition based format. These featured spaces exist as their own linked sites and highlight content around specific content areas like Sites of Shame, which focuses on content linked to internment camp locations. This particular project uses maps as a point of connectivity to bring together the life stories of WWII era Japanese-Americans.

Project Jukebox is collection of over thirty online oral history exhibits that developed in response to The University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ 1988 digital preservation project, funded by Apple Computers. This oral history project integrates oral histories, maps, and associated content to create topical online oral history exhibitions that highlight various regions of Alaska and provide researchers, educators, and the general public an opportunity to encounter the rich histories of the people and places of Alaska and the Polar Regions. Their first project went live online in 2000 and projects continue to develop today.

[Murmur] is a Toronto based oral history project that uses geographical locations as points of collective memory and shares the untold stories hidden in the urban landscape. It began in 2003 as a community based initiative and has grown to include nine different neighborhoods in the Toronto area as well as a number of international sites including São Paulo, Dublin, and San Jose. These oral histories are available online but their content is also available via a guide by cell option on location so that visitors can experience the stories of the city within their originating context.

The Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project was developed in 2007 as an elder interview project conducted by high school youth. The project emphasizes the importance of sharing these intergenerational stories of life and the development of community in the Chinatown area over the years. These oral history interviews were then paired with photographs of the local area and placed on a memory map or the area. These points are categorized and made navigable by era. They invite participants to join in the process by emailing their own submissions.

Lastly, The Interview Project is a happenstancial Oral History venture by director David Lynch. Though it does not meet the guidelines of traditional Oral history research methodologies, interviewing passers by at random on a road trip around the United States, its interface design and accessibility is notable. As the collection grows each interview is mapped on the location where it took place and is also searchable in a number of ways on the website.

Though wildly different in content these online oral history initiatives share abundant commonalities and have all been developed to meet the specific goals and needs of their respective communities. Though each project was created in accordance with an institutional goal they all use supporting documents,  photos or text, and employ the use of  maps as a way to spatially contextualize their content in the virtual space.

More to come…


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