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Australian Generations is an epic oral history project – the most multi-faceted undertaken in Australia – and I’m proud to be part of it!

Project Leader Al Thomson (standing) with oral historians

A team of interviewers – some of the most experienced oral historians in the country, with thousands of interviews behind them – will gather 300 Life Story interviews from Australians born between the 1920s and 1930s to 1990.

Jeannine Baker, Rob Willis and Jo Kijas try out retro Sony mic

The aim is to document people’s life pathways over the last 90 years or so, and see how attitudes and experiences have changed over that time (or not). A key aspect is to explore what makes a generation actually identify AS a generation – it’s not just about having a common birth era, it’s about being shaped by seminal shared public events.

If you want to be involved and have YOUR story recorded for posterity, click here.

WANTED!

We’ve been swamped with applications from well educated middle-class women in their 40s and 50s (good on you) but now, to redress the balance, we’d REALLY like to hear from:

Young Blokes (20s and up)

Post-War Migrants

Working-Class Folk

The Induction Day at ABC Radio National in Sydney yesterday was instructive and fun. Kevin Bradley, sound preservation guru at the National Library of Australia, waxed lyrical on the project’s state-of-the-art recording equipment (called, not very imaginatively, Sound Device!).

Kevin Bradley, audio guru, explaining a cardiod microphone.

He talked us through its use – always strange for me, as a radio person, to move from one hand-held mic to a stationary mic per person. But oral history interviews being so long (2-2.5 hours in this case), in situ microphones prevent interviewer fatigue. The separate mics also record on  two distinct channels.

Besides audio engineering (don’t get him started on anechoic chambers or fluorescent lights!), Kevin specialises in making oral history AUDIO easily available online. We provide a timed summary of the interview, with keywords, and browsers can retrieve the relevant audio with a click. SO MUCH better than using those tired and misleading transcripts. As Kevin said, a transcript is just a map, whereas the audio recording is a whole landscape.

The oral history will be mined for a radio series by Hindsight EP and Project PI Michelle Rayner at ABC Radio National, and also drawn on for two books. It’s a great project, runs till end of 2013, so there’s plenty of time to put your hand up.

Imagine someone listening to the story of YOUR life in 2099!

Siobhan trying out Sound Device with interviewer Jill Kitson. I must remember not to hold the mic!

smchugh@uow.edu.au

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