2023 RAHS Conference: Featured Session

Local and Community Histories: Voices from the Past

Wagga RSL Club, 21-22 October 2023

Graham Shirley and Dick Collingridge look and smile at the camera. Graham holds a paper script in his hand. A variety of audio-visual technology is in the background.

Graham Shirley (at right) interviewing Australian television pioneer Dick Collingridge, 25 June 2015 [Photo: Louise Collingridge]

Bookings are now open for the 2023 RAHS Conference, with discounted early bird prices available until 15 September. The conference will be held on 21–22 October at the Wagga Wagga RSL Club. In this blog post, we look at how oral histories can provide unique perspectives on the past, with our speakers in Session E discussing how to conduct and use oral histories in your research.

In late 2019, the State Library of NSW provided Oral History Collection Kits to eleven public libraries across the state. The project’s focus was collecting oral histories from communities whose stories were not held in libraries and making them accessible in local studies collections. Fran O’Flynn is the Local Studies Officer with Goulburn Mulwaree Library, and her talk will give an insight into the Oral History Project and highlight some amazing recordings.

Alison Wishart has recorded oral histories with old ‘Sea Salts’ in Townsville, Australian Defence Force personnel in the Middle East Area of Operations, and British migrants to Australia. Alison’s talk will be a practical session that examines some of the challenges of conducting oral histories for local and family history. Her talk will also provide tips for recording oral history and how to get the most out of the interview.

Graham Shirley has worked as a director, writer and researcher on historical documentaries and has conducted numerous oral histories. ‘Recording an oral history for one purpose can, decades later, be rethought for entirely new usage. For example, in the 1970 and 80s, when I recorded oral histories about Sydney’s filmmaking McDonagh sisters for articles and an intended TV miniseries, I could not predict that in 2019 these interviews would be essential to an ABC radio podcast about the sisters’. Graham’s presentation will cover the use of oral histories in books, television documentaries, and the abovementioned podcast. The presentation will also cover archival repositories of oral history recordings and associated rights issues.

The conference program also features sessions on the Riverina Region, the benefits and challenges of undertaking digitisation projects, and a panel discussion on the future of museums.

Visit our conference website for bookings and a detailed program.

We look forward to seeing you at the Conference!

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