Imagining New Careers in Public History

A working group

An oral history gathering

One of my best days each year is when the final gathering of interviewees takes place at the end of my students’ fall semester oral history project.  With most of the interviewees, it is the first time I’m meeting them face-to-face.  Usually I recruit them by letter and on the phone and then my students take the lead in interviewing.  By the time they come to our little get-together, however, I’ve listened to their interviews and, consequently, know a great deal about their lives.  Somehow it feels totally natural for me to get to know people by listening to them speak.  At the same time, I feel a much deeper sense of community with them when we meet in person.  Although the session usually only lasts about an hour, I always feel a strong connection to the people who have willingly shared their life stories with my students.  It reinforces for me, like nothing else, the intimate relationship between history and community.  ~Will


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