The Importance of Capturing Stories
On days like today, ANZAC Day, I get very nostalgic about the stories that have been shared with me - particularly by family members that are no longer with me. The stories of my Grandfather who fought in the Pacific in World War 2, of my Grandmother that stayed behind and her wedding dress made from curtains when supplies were low post-war, of my Pop who stayed behind to keep supply up to the country as a farmer and my Great Uncles who missed participating in international rowing competitions due to the war.
Its not only the war stories that are important to capture. Our community has so much information to share. However, takes people with special skills to be able to record those stories with integrity and authenticity.
Not all of us are eager storytellers. A skilled interviewer knows how to craft questions to encourage us to share our stories by putting us at ease and guiding to the important information.
So are you keen to preserve these stories as much as I am?
There are so many ways that we can capture stories now and ensure they are kept for posterity.
oral history interviews recorded on an audio device
filmed interviews/ digital stories
written responses recorded into blogs or online content
traditional printed text
Do you need help to achieve this? Reach out in your community and see who is great at interviewing, what recording devices you can have access to and/or who is available to edit the interviews into great content. Believe me, if you don't have the confidence to undertake this yourself, it is worth applying for funding to get the experts in.
Check out these examples of different types of story-capturing projects:
Bridges Health & Community Care's Stories of the Station Project with oral historian Ross Peddlesden and photographer Selina Ferrais - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdgod218J0k (oral history model)
Bundaberg Regional Council and Creative Regions partnership to develop the Story Walk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFoFGe1IK-I (digital story model)
The Miles Soundtrail developed by Hamish Sewell of Soundtrails - https://www.soundtrails.com.au/soundtrails/miles?hs=24 (locative storytelling)
Once you have captured the stories, how do you store them?
Local libraries and museums are keepers of our stories. It is ideal to lodge copies of the stories with them so that the public can have access to them in the future.
Online channels such as Vimeo or YouTube are great ways to store digitally recorded content.
Your own website can host a collection of stories. Just be mindful of the ongoing costs.
Keep back up copies on labelled portable drives or use cloud storage.
Don't forget that this type of project is very fundable. If you need to contract specialist services and have a theme to work to, you could try applying to local, state of federal government funding bodies for arts, culture and heritage.
Give it a go. The more stories we capture - the better. I personally participated in a Soundtrail project with the Bundaberg Library back in 2011, recording an interview with my Nan. She passed away about a year later. I now have her voice and some of her stories to listen to forever. https://www.artsbundaberg.com.au/libraries/heritage/story-project