How to search Oral History collections?

OHT-logoOral History provides a specific type of data to be explored. Unlike general audiovisual collections as researched in AXES, Oral History collections contain interviews with people who experienced a certain historical event. For example, the collection for the Interview Project Dutch Veterans contains 1,000 interviews with Dutch veterans who’ve served in wars ranging from the Second World War to the war in Afghanistan. Such interviews can be analysed by historians to learn not only what an event meant on a macro level, but how it was experienced by the people undergoing these events.

Oral History collections as these provide an interesting perspective for research, as the collections are sizable, have a clear theme, usually decent metadata, and sometimes transcripts of the full interview. Researchers can use these interviews to pick fragments to provide quotes as illustration to a point, or can search to analyse how different people perceived an event; do men and women talk differently about it, what did it this event mean for common people?

clariahOral History Today

How do researchers, with a wide variety of questions, search such a collection? What are important metadata-elements that need to be provided as search filters? What are interesting visualizations to provide an overview of the collection? We hope to address such questions in the Oral History Today (kick-off blogpost) project. In this project, a variety of Dutch Oral History collections will be aggregated to provide researchers with a one-stop search interface to these collections. Not only will this interface provide the researcher with tools to search specific videos, it will also provide an overview of the aggregated collections, so that researchers can explore them and find interrelations.

The Oral History Today project is a CLARIAH project aimed at making Oral History data better searchable for academic researchers. Partners in this project are:

Focus group

The Oral History Today project employs a user-centered design process. As such, we have started to invite researchers who can benefit from more advanced search tools for Oral History collections, to create a focus group with multiple perspectives. This focus group will provide input to the user requirements, as well as help us evaluate the usability of the search interface in development.

Are you a Dutch academic researchers, and are you interested in evaluating a search interface for Oral History collections? Or do you already have feedback on other search interfaces used for OH collections? Then please contact me, we are still in the process of gathering the focus group. We expect the entire process from April to August will take about 4 to 5 hours, for which you will be rewarded with €100.

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