By Andrew Shaffer
One of my favorite tasks as the OHR’s Social Media Coordinator is interviewing people for the blog. I get to talk to authors of recent articles from the OHR, oral historians using the power of conversation to create change, and a whole lot more. As a narcissistic millennial, however, I am now turning the spotlight inward, interviewing myself about the OHR’s latest virtual issue, released this week, on Oral History and Public History.
What can readers expect to find in this virtual issue?
This issue has everything: short articles about the professionalization of oral history; longer articles about memory in Saskatoon and public attention to Mashapaug; representations of the past in museums and public space; and journeys of communal discovery through Spanish-language music and intergenerational housing activism. The introduction is pretty neat, too. The threads that connect these articles together explore the interactions between oral historians, oral histories, and the public – whether that public be the residents of an ethnic enclave, visitors to a museum, or the people whose lives are recorded through a particular project.
Why should people look through a virtual issue, when a brand new issue of the OHR just came out?
In one of the first email interviews I conducted for the OHR blog, Linda Shopes encouraged oral historians to “slow down a bit and consider the urge to collect.” She was making a case about the direction of the field, but her concern about work simply gathering dust on archival shelves has stuck with me. In a world where new scholarship is continually being produced, older work can easily be ignored and fall by the wayside. But these articles are often immensely valuable in prompting questions for current research, and for thinking through the ways the field has changed or shifted. These virtual issues are a chance to slow down a bit, to dive deeply into the journal’s archive, and to see what conversations emerge over time.
You did this all by yourself, right?
Wow, such astute questions! As much as I would like to claim I did this all single-handedly, much of the credit (and none of the blame) goes to the OHR’s Editor in Chief Kathy Nasstrom and Managing Editor Troy Reeves. Troy and I worked through decades of scholarship to select a handful articles that could reflect, as accurately as possible, the major themes and concerns raised in the journal around the interactions between oral history and public history. We both fell in love with articles that didn’t make the final cut, and together we killed each other’s darlings. Kathy’s keen editing eye guided our selection process throughout and turned a rambling introduction into a polished piece of writing that makes it much clearer how each article adds to the issue. Troy and Kathy have graciously allowed me to take credit for the virtual issue (and I agreed, see: narcissism, above), but their fingerprints are all over it. The issue’s copyeditor, Elinor Maze, and our friends at Oxford University Press – especially marketing whiz Alex Fulton – helped to turn this virtual issue into a reality.
Do you have plans to do similar projects in the future?
I don’t, but the OHR does! Virtual issues are a great way to highlight older content, and the journal is eager to hear what other ideas for themes you, the readers, have. If you’d like to pitch a virtual issue, reach out at ohreview[at]gmail[dot]com.