What is an Oral History?

A woman stands in front of a microphone in a kitchen with wooden cabinets
An oral history in progress

NPS / Ted Toth

All stories begin with people and every person has a story. Oral history is a way to record, preserve, and interpret stories from individuals and communities. While oral history is the oldest form of historical inquiry, used by American Indians in prehistoric times, new technology allows historians to capture and digitize stories so that future generations can hear and learn from them. Oral history interviewees are an important source of knowledge, perspective, and experience that might not be found in the historical record.

Last updated: April 21, 2020

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