Capturing memory through the spoken word

Vanessa At the 2010 Peacemaking Seminar, Vanessa Hawkins made a presentation on oral history as a way of capturing and sharing stories of making peace and seeking justice.
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She noted that, to understand another person truly, one must hear his or her story. Oral history is a form of storytelling. The art of capturing oral history is important because it allows a person to speak to his or her participation in life in his or her own words. Using memories and spoken words, historical events come alive. Oral history also provides the opportunity to begin to understand the perspectives of others and to hear the stories of communities that have been marginalized and silenced. It offers a way in which a person’s account can be used to place historical events in context.

Blackpresbyterians Her presentation included the use of a video, Black Presbyterians: The Legacy Series. This video, which she helped produce, features Black Presbyterians telling the stories of their faithful witness to Jesus Christ during the Civil Rights movement and how they worked to shape the consciousness of the Presbyterian denominations.

For her presentation, Vanessa drew on Recording Oral History:  A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Valerie Raleigh Yow.  

She recommends the following Web sites for further information:

Baylor University Institute of Oral History

Oral History Association

OHA Wiki

The photo of Vanessa Hawkins is by David Young.

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