Oral History Projects
PROJECT: “VALENCIAN ORAL MEMORY ARCHIVE – MUSEU DE LA PARAULA”
MUSEU VALENCIÀ D’ETNOLOGIA
The Valencian Oral Memory Archive – Museu de la Paraula is a research project by the Valencian Museum of Ethnology (Museu Valencià d’Ethnology), which is run by the Provincial Council of Valencia. Its main objective is to create a biographical database that collects, conserves, researches and disseminates oral testimonies on the socio-cultural reality of Valencians in Valencia throughout the 20th century. Consequently, the Valencian Oral Memory Archive grows from memories. Through interviews with people born primarily before the Spanish Civil War, the archive presents an interwoven panorama of private understandings, everyday life, individuals, and groups. Thanks to these testimonies, this archive insights into both the cultural heritage and the most significant social practices of Valencia of the past century.
Our fieldwork began in 2002 and was published online in 2010. We have built up close to 350 life stories. The interviews are recorded in an audiovisual format; they are then transcribed and indexed and are available for viewing on the internet. The stories run through the life cycles of the interviewees. Some of the people interviewed are part of specific projects that we have been working on over the years at the Valencian Museum of Ethnology. Some of these research projects are:
- Community music bands and associative life
- Religious expressions: the Xàtiva Baptists
- Women workers in the toy industry
- Valencian orchards and marshes
- Socio-cultural practices and representations surrounding birth
- Stem-family household and inheritance system
- The Great Flood of Valencia in1957
- Abandoned villages; villages locked in memory
- Valencians in Chile and Argentina
- The Lateen Sail: Traditional navigation in the Albufera of Valencia
In the Valencian Oral Memory Archive – Museu de la Paraula there is a confluence of four major work areas that have traditionally existed in parallel: life stories, museology, intangible heritage and new technologies. We consider life stories (or oral memory) to be intangible heritage, emphasizing an interest in people and in their knowledge, expressions and skills. We have projected these areas of development through an ethnological museum, with new technologies helping us to stay contemporary.
The portal of the Valencian Oral Memory Archive – Museu de la Paraula has two platforms for work and consultations: one is private (the management system) and the other is public (the online query system). The private platform is utilized by people working in the Valencian Museum of Ethnology, who use defined protocols to catalog and manage all the interviews that shape our resource pool. This platform was designed by the Valencian Museum of Ethnology with the collaboration of IT experts. The result of this collaboration has been the creation of an open source application Dédalo, a free software platform for the management of intangible heritage. This platform is accessible and ready for use at www.fmomo.org.
The public platform is open to people who are interested in searching our resource pool. It can be found at www.museudelaparaula.es. Our website tries to make the content accessible to as many users as possible, which is why access is free and open. Moreover, we have opted for an interactive design that goes beyond the simple display. Instead of a descriptive page on what exists in the catalog or what we do, we show what is freely available to everyone. We have tried to transform the biographical accounts in a manner which would serve all kinds of uses: educational, cultural and social. We are very interested in the dissemination of knowledge, and hence there is no target audience for which the Valencian Oral Memory Archive – Museu de la Paraula is directly towards. Undoubtably, people with research questions will find the page interesting.
In addition to continuing to work with memory and for memory, our focus is to act now as a crossroads of oral memory in the Valencian region. The Valencian Museum of Ethnology aims to create a space for the scattered testimonials collected by institutions, groups, associations or individuals. Our museum aims to improve the conservation and dissemination of these materials, as they are of great value for understanding the sociocultural reality of the Valencians over the past century.
Raquel Ferrero i Gandia
Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Oral History Programme: “Educational Roots”
The Centre for Educational Documentation and Information (CENDI), part of the Provincial Directorate of Planning under the Directorate General of Culture and Education of the Province of Buenos Aires, has proposed the establishment of an Oral History Programme called “Educational Roots”. The main objective of the Programme is to reconstruct oral history methodology through the social and personal experiences of teachers who have been a part of the educational process of the Province of Buenos Aires since the 1940s. Through this institutional project, CENDI has chosen to retrieve and collate the individual memories of teachers.
As this is a long term project, the main objective is to build an oral history archive in order to recover the diverse experiences that our teachers had as educators of the Province of Buenos Aires. This archive must be preserved in an organized manner so that all the documentation is related to education, with the central body structured in a way that gives meaning to the collection of documents. The archive will consist of testimonies given by former teachers and students by way of audiovisual interviews conducted by an interdisciplinary team within CENDI. This team will comprise of historians, literature and oral narrative specialists, educators, psychologists, archivists and librarians, among others.
In addition to setting up the oral history archive, the Programme hopes to provide a complementary alternative to the formation, training and research of future teachers. Its proposition is to link these related tasks with the construction, systemization, use and dissemination of the archive.
Furthermore, the Programme aims to be a reference in the methodological training of oral history, an educational resource that will help schools in the Province of Buenos Aires generate their own oral history projects, which will eventually become part of the “Educational Roots” archive.