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Oral History

Oral history narrators

Why Oral Histories?

An oral history is an audio recording of a person telling their own story--in this case, about their involvement in organic and sustainable agriculture. Oral histories are one of the best ways to preserve the stories of people who are more comfortable with verbal than written communication. They provide unfiltered primary sources for future historians and can help complement archival documents. Each oral history captures a moment in time, reflecting an individual's current perspective on the past events they are narrating. This oral history project focuses on collecting the stories of older individuals who have been involved with organic and sustainable agriculture. 


How Does It Work?

Doing an oral history interview is usually easy for a narrator. After all, they are telling their own story. Following the best practices of the Oral History Association, I do an introductory phone call with prospective narrators, send them a list of questions in advance, and have them sign a release form so that I can donate their interview and transcript to the Wisconsin Historical Society. I do most oral history interviews over the phone to save on travel expenses, although I have done some in-person or on Zoom. Interested in doing an oral history interview? Email me!

John Biernbaum
Organic Valley

Transcript Collection

All of the audio recordings and transcripts of the oral histories collected in this project will be archived in the Wisconsin Historical Society's sustainable agriculture collection.  However, they want to process all the interviews at once, so they may not be available online until this project is complete. In the meantime, I have posted all of the transcripts I have collected so far on this website. Please contact the Wisconsin Historical Society if you are interested in streaming the audio.

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