The Voice of the Past
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The Voice of the Past : Oral History

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Oral history gives history back to the people in their own words. And in giving a past, it also helps them towards a future of their own making. Oral history and life stories help to create a truer picture of the past and the changing present, documenting the lives and feelings of all kinds of people, many otherwise hidden from history. It explores personal and family relationships and uncovers the secret cultures of work. It connects public and private experience, and it highlights the experiences of migrating between cultures. At the same time it can bring courage to the old, meaning to communities, and contact between generations. Sometimes it can offer a path for healing divided communities and those with traumatic memories. Without it the history and sociology of our time would be poor and narrow. In this fourth edition of his pioneering work, fully revised with Joanna Bornat, Paul Thompson challenges the accepted myths of historical scholarship. He discusses the reliability of oral evidence in comparison with other sources and considers the social context of its development. He looks at the relationship between memory, the self and identity. He traces oral history through its own past and weighs up the recent achievements of a movement which has become international, with notably strong developments in North America, Europe, Australia, Latin America, South Africa and the Far East, despite resistance from more conservative academics. This new edition combines the classic text of The Voice of the Past with many new sections, including especially the worldwide development of different forms of oral history and the parallel memory boom, as well as discussions of theory in oral history and of memory, trauma and reconciliation. It offers a deep social and historical interpretation along with succinct practical advice on designing and carrying out a project, The Voice of the Past remains an invaluable tool for anyone setting out to use oral history and life stories to construct a more authentic and balanced record of the past and the present.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 504 pages
  • 167 x 235 x 31mm | 700g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • 4th Revised edition
  • 019933546X
  • 9780199335466
  • 554,618

Review quote

"First published in 1978, The Voice of the Past was the pioneering, landmark book on oral history. Four decades later, this new edition showcases and examines the breathtaking energy, intellectual sophistication, and political impact of oral history today."--Alistair Thomson, Professor of History, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia"This newly updated edition of The Voice of the Past retains all the significance of this classic's earlier versions while adding valuable new sections and perspectives. While an emphasis on social justice remains at the fore, this fourth edition engages with other issues that oral historians have recently begun to explore as our methodology continues to evolve."--Mary Larson, former president, Oral History Association"An indispensable guide to every aspect of oral history, written and updated by two inspirational pioneers in this important field."--Steve Humphries, Director, Testimony Films, UK"What a delight to have a classic book not only reissued but thoroughly updated in a very inspiring way. It adds exciting new dimensions and perspectives to the expansive and interdisciplinary field of oral history."--Orvar Lofgren, Emeritus Professor of Ethnology, Lund University, Sweden"The Voice of the Past is a classic. It is a journey that gives you a 360* worldwide perspective of what oral history is and can be. It is also a very generous contribution that has encouraged the development of many different sorts of initiatives around the world."--Karen Worcman, Director, Museu da Pessoa, Sao Paulo"The Voice of the Past is a classic of unrivalled relevance in its field and beyond Thompson's book asserts with prodigious intelligence, in a language accessible to all, how we can escape the ghettos of fatalism only by listening to everyone's voices; how oral history is by far our greatest weapon against self-ignorance and the prejudice that we have developed in relation to ourselves as First Peoples. Thompson's work authoritatively confirms our intuition that not only our stories matter but that our memories are treasures and the plinth on which our identities, mode of governance, relation to the land and to the past will be re-established As any masterpiece, The Voice of the Past puts people at the heart of history and equips us daily, as Indigenous peoples, on the path of regaining self-knowledge, agency and a renewed desire to imagine what we want to become "--Pierrot Ross-Tremblay, Chair and Professor of Sociology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada"The Voice of the Past is the classic handbook for anyone who wants to explore oral history. This new edition brings it up to date with new ideas and new technologies, but it is the democratic generosity of the approach that will make the book enduringly attractive. If you read it, the next thing you will want to do is get your hands on a recording device and set out to discover real lives."--Catherine Merridale, author of Ivan's War"The Voice of the Past has become an institution in the field of oral history. With its new edition, it is updated, expanded and enriched to reflect on the growth and sophistication of the field itself. It is about both the method and the meaning of oral history. It offers answers to practical questions, discussions of theoretical issues and ethical dilemmas, reassurance and inspiration. An encyclopaedia, a guide, a challenge and a spur."--Daniela Koleva, St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia"The first edition of The Voice of the Past was groundbreaking book, immediately translated into Swedish and it became a must-read in Scandinavia, both inside and outside academia. This fourth expanded and updated edition again brings together knowledge and experience, and phenomenal curiosity, to show us how important oral history can be for us as researchers, citizens and human beings. This new edition ensures that The Voice of the Past it will continue to be the central work on oral history."--Annika Olsson & Malin Thor Tureby, Oral History in Sweden (OHIS)"The Voice of the Past is the classic text on the oral history, its history and method. This new edition has been substantially revised, updated and expanded including two newly written chapters capturing the global explosion of oral history activities in the past fifteen years as well as a new chapter by Lynn Abrams on oral history and theory. Carefully researched and clearly written, this revised edition remains a key resource for oral historians and life story researchers and community project workers throughout the world."--Xun Zhou, Lecturer in Modern History at the University Essex and author of Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1962: An Oral History"The Voice of the Past is a testimony of the originality of the pioneers when Paul Thompson taught us the power of oral sources. This fourth edition adds the wisdom and experience of decades of research and analysis: it is a classic that transforms us in better historians."--Mercedes Vilanova, University of Barcelona, Founder-Editor of Historia y Fuente Oral"Paul Thompson is one of the great pioneers of oral history and The Voice of the Past is his classic text, serving us well for nearly forty years. It is just wonderful to see this engagingly updated and expanded fourth edition now being made available for a new worldwide generation of students and scholars. The book has, quite simply, become indispensible."--Ken Plummer, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex"In the history of oral history practices, Paul Thompson's book was and remains, a watershed moment. Moreover, with each new edition the book has been updated and re-orientated to engage with contemporary patterns of oral history work across the globe. The scope of the literature surveyed in the book is remarkable and will ensure that it remains an essential, highly readable, teaching text for oral history students. Most of all, the book provides compelling evidence of the level of intellectual maturity and depth that oral history has achieved and its significant contributions to the production of knowledge across disciplines, universities and publics."--Sean Field, University of Cape Townshow more

About Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson is Professor Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Essex. He is Founder-Editor of Oral History and Founder of National Life Stories at the British Library. He is a pioneer of oral history in Europe and author of the international classic The Voice of the Past. His other books include The Edwardians and Living the Fishing. He is co-author of Pathways to Social Class and Growing Up in Stepfamilies, and most recently, Jamaican Hands Across the Atlantic. Joanna Bornat is Emeritus Professor of Oral History at the Open University, UK. She has a longstanding involvement in oral history, nationally and internationally, and has been an editor of the Oral History for many years. She has researched and published on various oral history topics including migration, the family, reminiscence, religion and non belief, and gender together with an interest in the re-use of archived interviews and aspects of community oral history.show more

Rating details

51 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 22% (11)
4 27% (14)
3 41% (21)
2 10% (5)
1 0% (0)
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