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McCall Library Oral History Collections: Home

A comprehensive list of the Oral History Collections found at the McCall Library

McCall Library Oral History Program

What is oral history?

Above:  Dr. Kathy Cooke, Dr. Kern M. Jackson, and Honors College student Ruby Bryant film an interview for the Blakeley Bluff Oral History Project supported by the Alabama Humanities Foundation in 2019.

On the value of oral history

“The first thing that makes oral history different . . . is that it tells us less about events than about their meaning. This does not imply that oral history has no factual validity. Interviews often reveal unknown events or unknown aspects of known events; they always cast new light on unexplored areas of the daily life of the non-hegemonic classes. From this point of view, the only problem posed by oral sources is that of verification.”

Alessandro Portelli, The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History.

"Oral history is not necessarily an instrument for change; it depends upon the spirit in which it is used. Nevertheless, oral history certainly can be a means for transforming both the content and purpose of history. It can be used to change the focus of history itself, and open up new areas of inquiry; it can break down barriers between teachers and students, between generations, between educational institutions and the world outside; and in the writing of history-- whether in books , or museums, or radio and film,-- it can give back to the people who made and experienced history, through their own words, a central place."

Paul Thompson, Voice of the Past: Oral History

“The value of oral history lies largely in the way it helps to place people’s experiences within a larger social and historical context. The interview becomes a record useful for documenting past events, individual or collective experiences, and understandings of the ways that history is constructed. Because it relies on memory, oral history captures recollections about the past filtered through the lens of a changing personal and social context.”

Oral History Association

“OHA Core Principles” adopted October 2018

Librarian, Archivist, and Oral Historian

Profile Photo
Deborah Gurt
Interim Director
The Doy Leale McCall
Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Marx Library
Room 300
(251) 341-3900
Subjects: McCall Library