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MTSU moves to the center of the oral history movement in America


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Middle Tennessee State University is the new home for the 900 member Oral History Association.

Oral history collection is enjoying something of a renaissance, thanks in large part to the Association’s work. A good case in point: The popularity of StoryCorp histories as aired each week on National Public Radio.

OHA Co-Executive Director Dr. Kristine McCusker says it isn’t just academics who are making use of the Association’s resources.

“If you want to understand podcasting, oral history, any kind of technological sort of recording of sound, one of the first places to start is with the Oral History Association.”

The other half of the OHA Executive Directorship is MTSU historian Louis Kyrizkoudes. He likens oral histories to capturing lightning, saying there’s nothing more exciting or engaging.

“To sit down with someone who may not think that their story is important, because most of us are humble. But as you sit and talk with them and help them to record their experience, we learn the narrative of a person’s life, and that life touches on all facets of our common experience.”

At a time when there’s a great deal of political and cultural discord in the country, Dr. McCusker says oral histories can also foster reconciliation.

“It brings people on the margins back into the center of the historical narrative and that’s essential. Because if we are going to be a true democracy we have to have everyone’s voice when writing that story.”

Would you like to learn more about the Oral History Association?