Digitale Geschichte und Historiographie

Solving the Shoebox Syndrome: “Digital” Oral History Content Management

Cassette tape recorder
This workshop centred on digital methods for working with oral history and provided a survey of emerging practices for better discoverability within and across oral history collections. It facilitated sharing of approaches for oral history work at multiple stages, for collections published for posterity and for ongoing research projects.

Dr. Douglas Lambert (C²DH) shared his experience in audio/video content management, developed through an oral history consulting practice in the US (with historian Michal Frisch) and in his current post-doctoral research at the University of Luxembourg. The workshop emphasized techniques in “oral history digital indexing” (OHDI) that use direct-to-media timecode capabilities to get stagnant oral history collections “out of the shoebox” and into a more usable environment.  Systems used for OHDI work include OHMS (the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer), which is one of many modes for sharing oral histories online as curated, interlinked, multimedia collections. OHDI systems and processes, operating at the timecode level, also have enormous potential for researchers to create meaningful access to long a/v files without necessarily needing a word-for-word transcription.

Participants joined a conversation via Zoom that included a combination of demonstrations, hands-on exercises, and discussions around this still-emerging body of activities. Demonstrations included oral history websites and project workflows that illustrate the principles and ideas of OHDI. Participants shared their own projects’ features and long-term digital ambitions. Hands-on exercises allowed participants to gain a better understanding of indexing techniques, a core experience to understand for both project managers and qualitative researchers doing oral history in the digital age.

The workshop was co-sponsored by C²DH and nep4dissent (New Exploratory Phase in Research on East European Cultures of Dissent) a research network funded through the COST Action program (CA16213).