Biography of an archive: 'Australia 1938' and the vexed development of Australian oral history

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Abstract

Between 1979 and the mid-1980s, the Australia 1938 oral history project, undertaken as part of a Bicentennial History Project, produced just under six hundred interviews about Australian lives in 1938. This article presents a biography of that project and its archive, and it illuminates a critical phase in the development of Australian oral history. By examining the methodological challenges and intellectual debates, both local and international, which shaped the Australia 1938 interviews, the article aims to guide future researchers as they search the archive and interpret the interviews, which are now available online. I argue that although the Australia 1938 interviews were affected by the constraints of the Bicentennial History Project, and also by what could be termed conventional attitudes to historical evidence, together they comprise an invaluable yet under-utilised source for the social history of the first third of Australia s twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425 - 449
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Historical Studies
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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