Appalachian Oral Histories: Voices History Forgot

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This paper will discuss the importance of oral history collection for underrepresented, oppressed, or historically maligned populations for preserving history that is widely ignored. It will also adress how oral histories can be used to encourage understanding of the diversity in the Appalachian area as well as showing the rich and varied histories present in Appalachia of which many people are unaware. This paper will utilize collections of oral histories from the American Folklife Center and various other sources to construct a picture of the importance of oral history collection and how oral histories can provide information and insight into areas of life, particularly that of home and family, that wouldn’t be readily available in standardized texts. There will also be a small overview on the utilization of oral histories as classroom tools and how to encourage students to investigate their own oral history through engagement with the elder and extended members of their family.