A few of our favorite things

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By Andrew Shaffer

In the spirit of Christmas (and in honor of our all-time-favorite daytime talk show host), our present to you is a list of some of our favorite things from 2015. We hope you enjoy reading our list as much as we did writing it. Keep an eye on the blog for exciting new content and some brand new blog series in 2016!

Using voice recognition software in oral history transcription

One of our first posts of the year was also one of our most popular. In January, Sam Snyder reviewed transcription software, which could make all of our lives much easier. In a couple of weeks, we’ll be going deeper into the world of transcription to bring you an interview with a couple of real, live professional transcriptionists.

Uniqueness lost

A personal favorite of mine, this post asks how we can honor the stories we record while still staying true to the goals of our project. Sometimes the most beautiful memories emerge on the boundaries of relevance, and I love the way Eliza Lambert approaches this problem.

On spatial strategies of narration

When we read Tim Cole’s article, “(Re)Placing the Past: Spatial Strategies of Retelling Difficult Stories,” we knew we had to talk to him about it. Our interview with him became another one of our most popular pieces, and spawned an upcoming blog series. Come back in the coming months, to read an ongoing conversation between Cole and Hank Greenspan about their usage of space and time in oral history.

Building community and ecoliteracy through oral history

We’re strong believers in the role of oral history as a tool for students of all ages. Kate Kuszmar did a great job of showcasing the educational value of oral history in her OHR article, “From Boat to Throat: How Oral Histories Immerse Students in Ecoliteracy and Community Building,” and we were excited to bring her into the blog. She explained that oral history helped her students understand the bigger issues facing fishing communities in California and the power of narration.

Bringing the Digital Humanities into the classroom

Doug Boyd agreed to talk with us about his usage of oral history in the classroom as well. Following up on an article he co-wrote in the OHR, Boyd discussed some of the valuable lessons both he and the students learned from their experiences with oral history-focused assignments and the groundbreaking Oral History Metadata Synchronizer.

Listening on the Edge

We would be remiss not to include any of our incredible podcasts, and one of our favorites from this year was a three way conversation between Mark Cave, Stephen Sloan, and Troy Reeves. In addition to talking about the book Cave and Sloan co-edited, they took seriously the need for oral historians to think about their own self-care when listening to difficult stories.

Narrating Nostalgia

Another one of my personal favorites, this interview with Jennifer Helgren follows up on her article in the OHR, “A ‘Very Innocent Time’: Oral History Narratives, Nostalgia and Girls’ Safety in the 1950s and 1960s.” In both the article and the interview, Helgren explores the ways narrators re-write the past as a way of understanding and critiquing the present. She offers a powerful methodology of listening to narrators, especially when their memories may not line up with other recorded facts.

Archivist by day, audio enthusiast by night: an interview with Dana Gerber-Margie

Finally, we were so happy to be able to talk to Dana Gerber-Margie about her audio newsletter. We are avid readers of the newsletter, and getting to talk about its origins and production was a real treat. Gerber-Margie will be returning to the blog in early 2016 to kick off a blog series that we are incredibly excited to start.

Thanks for indulging our cheesy clip show while we take a little bit of a break with our friends and families. We have a great lineup of blog posts coming down the pipe that we can’t wait to share with you. See you next year!

*Note: We wrote this piece while listening to the Sound of Music Soundtrack on repeat, and highly recommend you do the same while reading it.

Image Credit: “More Presents” by Aaron Jacobs. CC BY SA 2.0 via Flickr.