Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Austin Oral History

KUT recently recorded its 500th sonic ID. You might have heard one of these snippets on KUT over the past few years. They run anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute and a half and feature a unique tale from an Austinite. Some tell how they fell in love with Austin while others tell of meeting their spouse (typically a funny story). Collectively, the sonic IDs weave the unique fabric that is Austin and us. KUT’s site contains the entire archive.

Oral histories are a vital element in understanding history. These first-person tales provide a participant’s take on history. A basic search for “oral history” in the Austin Public Library’s catalog retrieves a plethora of interesting oral history collections. A brief sampling includes:

We Would Have Played for Nothing: Baseball Stars of the 1950s and 1960s Talk about the Game They Loved

Israel at Sixty: a Pictorial and Oral History of a Nation Reborn

Asian Americans in the Twenty-First Century: Oral Histories of First- to Fourth-Generation Americans from China, Japan, India, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Laos

Listening Is an Act of Love: a Celebration of American lives from the StoryCorps Project

Tower Stories: an Oral History of 9/11

Voices of Freedom: an Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s

The Library of Congress has built an impressive Veterans History Project. They also provide a nice compilation of veterans’ oral history projects spanning the spectrum of American conflict involvement.

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