Publication Date

January 1994


In the second half of the twentieth century, resea·rchers in all fields of study have become more sensitive to documentary gaps, especially the paucity of materials by and about social non-elites. With increasing frequency, oral history projects have been carried out to add these forgotten voices to the historical record and thereby create what may be termed new historical evidence. In the words of one public historian, "a new and integrative paradigm" is crafted out of such initiatives, whereby the oral testimonies of the heretofore ignored are synthesized with the documentation of the powerful. The result is, at least in theory, a more balanced and faithful view of society and history. Such a self-conscious effort to reshape history is troubling to many researchers, those who must interpret these new records as well as those whose job it is to expose and render their context. Nevertheless, despite its critics, oral history has become a popular method of inquiry and has earned a degree of historiographical significance.



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