The allure of oral history is that it is direct communication. The subject is telling their story directly to the reader, using their words and phrasing. A writer is not telling their story for them and deciding which of their quotes to use and where. This process of disintermediation has become popular this century across media as the reading public becomes more aware of unreliable narrators and the inherent biases of every writer. What is one way to combat the insiduous rise of “fake news?” Eliminate the writer entirely!
Nina Krstic, in working on archival footage for the eight-plus hour documantary O.J.: Made in America, said that in every instance she wanted the source material rather than the edited version that aired. “With news stories, I wanted raw footage, because I don’t want a news editor from ’94 deciding what’s good and what’s not good.”
Prior to the recent boom in popular oral histories the form had a musty, academic reputation and when presented online were often just walls of text. This was a missed opportunity given the varied forms of storytelling available online. The best popular oral histories of today supplement the text with audio, video and contextual images. They are truly comprehensive accounts that provide ample avenues of engagement for their readers. This website was created to collect and celebrate these accounts.