Giving history a voice

Audio cassette

Image from

On July 20 USM’s Franco-American Collection showcased some of its oral histories.  The event showed us attendees the value of oral histories.

As Coordinator James Myall pointed out, oral histories feature everyday people.  Thus they complement history textbooks, which focus on major events.  They also complement history books in that the books are generally written by dominant groups.  Oral histories let us literally hear voices that might otherwise go unheard.

We heard clips from a variety of oral histories.  In some clips immigrants spoke of their experiences coming to the U.S. from Canada.  Other stories came from later generations of Franco-Americans.  All of the stories sparked some lively discussion and led to more stories.

For other oral history collections in Maine check out these sites:


Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection (Bates College)


Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History (University of Maine)


USM’s Sampson Center for Diversity has some oral histories and other audio materials among its collections.  Documenting Maine Jewry has oral histories as well.  Of course, let’s not forget the Franco-American Collection’s own oral histories.


Oral histories are an important primary source.  Libraries and special collections play an important role in preserving and promoting them