Oral history can be a powerful tool for those working for social change and social justice. The stories we share about our lives and everyday experiences shape the world we live in and often determine the ways others understand their place in the world. Traditional historical narratives have often excluded voices from marginalized communities such as women, people of color, indigenous, young people, lgbtq+, disabled persons, and others. Leaving their stories out of the historical record further contributes to their disempowerment. By making spaces for the telling and preservation of these stories, oral history can support a more capacious and inclusive historical narrative, which is an important mechanism for social change.
Oral histories can describe the world as it is, but they can also be spaces to identify social problems and imagine social alternatives. Oral historians conduct interviews, transcribe and index the recordings, analyze the oral histories, archive and share them with their audience, often for educational purposes. This certificate program introduces adult learners to Oral History as a tool for social change and helps develop the skills and strategies needed to conduct oral histories ethically and effectively. Building on the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life's extensive oral history training and archival expertise, we walk you through the steps needed to design and execute your own oral history project. Our approach to oral history for social change is informed by our Religions Texas initiative, which is a community-based archive that seeks to diversify the historical record and empower Texans to tell their stories on their own terms.