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Oral history interviews in the research of the recent past

posted Mar 9, 2019, 2:46 AM by Sara Debora Topciu   [ updated Jul 23, 2019, 5:42 AM ]

Zsuzsanna Bögre1

Journal of Social Research & Policy
Volume: 8, Issue: 2
, pp. 75-80
Date: December 2017
ISSN: 2067-2640 (print), 2068-9861 (electronic)

Abstract: I present several oral history interviews, which would have been difficult to understand in themselves, using only the
texts from them. Thus, I searched for additional sources by using archives and compared them with the material of the
interviews. After collating the various sources not only did the factual life events become more comprehensible, but it
also became clear on the ways how the interviewees talked about themselves.
I called the attention of sociologists researching oral history to the fact that to understand the past, in some cases, the
collection of life stories may be insufficient. Beside the interviews, it is also important to collect materials from other
sources as well, such as the documents stored in archives. In doing so, we will be able to compare data and stories
contained in the life history interviews with the archival sources (interrogation records, informant reports, prison
informants’ reports), and by checking facts and constructions, we can enhance our understanding of the reality.

Keywords: life history; oral history interview; personal documents; social facts and social constructions; separating
fiction and data; collating the various sources.

Sara Debora Topciu,
Jul 23, 2019, 5:39 AM