Shut Up and Listen: Adventures of an Oral Historian

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Department 1



In late 2013, I conducted my first oral history at Gettysburg College-or anywhere else. Since then, I've been fortunate to meet and listen to people from all segments of the College community; document the memories of those who had important positions at the College, were here at fraught times in our history, or have had significant experiences elsewhere; and be a conduit through which people tell their stories in their own words, and add them to the documentary mosaic that is the Musselman Library Oral History Collection.

This talk will be about what oral history is, how it's done, and the discoveries it can enable. I'll talk about the oral history initiatives I've pursued with the support, and sometimes at the instigation, of Library Dean Robin Wagner. I'll describe some of what I've learned about people and about life through this work. And I'll relate some of the funny, surprising, and embarrassing moments I've experienced in the course of discovering the College's history one person at a time.

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Presentation given at the Friday Forum on September 11, 2020. The Friday Forum is a series of lectures given by members of the Gettysburg College community on their personal scholarly research, creative activities, or professional or curricular development activities.

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