Oral History, for today and forever

When writing an essay, the author will most likely consider many different types of resources, but to build their work on a reliable foundation, an author will probably pick a written source to cite over oral history. It’s obvious that written documents are more reliable than oral history due to the many factors are involved: things could get lost in translation, a part may be forgotten, or the information isn’t edited or filterered. An oral account of events is raw, probably biased, and very individualized– but that’s what it makes it such a great source.

Despite its many potential errors, oral history has been passed down centuries after centuries and it has an emotional appeal that people identify with. An example of oral history is interviews and (unless it’s scripted) all of the reactions are raw and initial reactions. The time between a question and an answer can’t be too long so the answers have to be truthful. When people are genuine in their reactions, people can connect more easily to what they’re saying. Today, everything seems so fabricated and produced to evoke a certain reaction, so it’s difficult to tell where the truth actually is. When we are presented with a source that is truthful and real, there’s something more human about it. For instance, audiences relate more to a celebrity when they make guest appearances on talk shows and come across as very conversational and casual, because it seems they are being truthful. If a celebrity declines an interview, or address their fans with written announcements or press releases, we feel so disconnected. Jennifer Lawrence, a rising young actress, is loved by so many fans because what she says seems like it’s the first thing she thought of. No filtering, no influence from her publicist. Watching an interview with her feels like you’re listening to your best friend talk, which makes her so likable.


Even though it seems frivolous, these interviews are apart of history. When teens go to school and talk about her to their friends, Jennifer Lawrence is becoming more and more apart of our history. The more she’s talked about or the more we share the story of her falling at the Oscars (which can be found here), the more she gets imbedded into our memories as a famous actress. Of course there will be endless articles, videos, and pictures of her online, but what triggers all of those sources are the fans who talk about it out loud first.

Oral history is so important for our generation who has essentially grown up in front of a screen. Every thought could be recorded with the use of the Internet, but we continue to pass down stories through each other because we value sharing information aloud. The connection we make with each other when we share a story or fact is something that can’t be achieved with written sources. Therefore, oral history is a source we should continue to use and not undermine.

Oral History, for today and forever

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