History Department

Oral History

What is oral history?

Community history project brochure

In recent years history has become a more inclusive discipline, exploring new sources and directions. One example of this trend is the emphasis on oral history as a source for researching and writing history. Oral history is essentially spoken history. An interview situation typically consists of an interviewer interviewing an interviewee or narrator. The interview is usually recorded by means of a tape recorder, digital voice recorder or video camera. The recording is then transcribed into text. During the past decade oral history as either an independent discipline and/or a method has gained considerable ground in South African historical circles.

The Batho Community History Project

During 2007 the National Museum launched the Batho Community History Project as a community-based oral history project. Aimed at collecting and researching the social, cultural and political history of Bloemfontein’s oldest existing township by means of oral history, this project has not only become an initiative to collect historical information, but also an effort to contribute to the well-being of the Batho community.