Personal testimony is extremely powerful. It brings a story alive. Written down on a page these memories are interesting, but when you hear the actual voice of the person who was there - the witness - then history really begins to come alive. As you listen you begin to wonder who this person is, you start to picture the places and the people that they are talking about. The personal voice adds another dimension to understanding, giving the listener a flavour of the local dialect and intonation. Sometimes it is what people don’t say that is important and you can hear the emotion in a voice that you would never get on the written page.
Oral History also acts as an inspiration to find out more. The strength of personal testimony is an excellent introduction to studying the history in more depth and detail. Dates and events will be more readily remembered if they are linked to a personal story.
Workshops and Training
The Coal Mining Oral History Co-ordinator delivered oral history workshops in schools throughout County Durham and the north-east and worked with the Community Heritage Officer to develop training workshops for local history and community groups.