First Oral History Seminar

The first meeting is over!

On Wednesday, January 25, we kicked off the Oral History Seminar (Seminarium Historii Mówionej, SHM). Despite the unexpected twists and turns (finding a room – a challenge) and the flu, which decreased attendance, we gathered twenty-three people who managed to walk the labyrinths of the corridors in the Staszic Palace and arrive on time, for a joint interview analysis. Among the participants were representatives of several universities, research centers, cultural institutions and NGOs from Bialystok, Gdansk, Krakow, Olsztyn and Warsaw. In the first part of the meeting, we discussed the idea of the SHM series and agreed that:

  • we need to talk about interviews, both the ones we are currently conducting, and the accounts stored in the archives. This is how we will try to select material for analysis for future meetings.
  • The peculiarities of oral history prompt us to try to analyze audio and audiovisual materials. Although this will pose a practical challenge, we want to take it on.
  • the joy of being able to meet on the site and talk in person reinforced our conviction that, if possible, the seminars will be held stationary.

After a short break, we got involved in analyzing the transcript of one of the interviews. On the first fire went an interview conducted by Jakub Gałęziowski as part of the project “A Breach in the System: The ‘Polonia Firms’ 1976-1994”. We made the transcript available a week before the scheduled seminar. After a brief presentation of the project and the context of the interview with a representative of one of the ‘Polonia Firms’, there was time to ask questions to the interviewer; these concerned the research itself, the interview situation and the interviewee. Then everyone was able to refer to the analyzed material and comment on it, drawing on their own research and documentation experiences. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of time for the final discussion, something we will try to keep an eye on for future editions of SHM.

The Oral History Seminar is a joint initiative of the Polish Oral History Association and the Qualitative Data Archive of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences under the auspices of the Wrocław Yearbook of Oral History, where lastly was published a text encouraging Polish oral historians to undertake joint analysis of interviews [link to article].

Oral History Seminars are held on the fourth Wedneshttps://wrhm.pl/wrhm/article/view/358day of the month from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Staszic Palace, 72 Nowy Świat in Warsaw (room number will be provided). The next SHM is coming up on February 22. We will soon provide information on what materials will be analyzed during the next four seminars.

We encourage you to participate and co-create a space for joint work and exchange of ideas.

Applications for future seminars can be sent to seminariumoralhistory@gmail.com.

The latest information about the meetings will be posted on Facebook [link].

The Oral History Archive of Budapest – meeting with Katalin Somlai

Polish Oral History Association invites you for a lecture by Katalin Somlai, a Hungarian oral historian from the 1956 Institute Foundation.
The talk and the discussion will be streamed on our Facebook profile.
The lecure and the discussion after it will be in English.
Katalin Somlai ia a historian. She was a lecturer at the Italian Department of Janus Pannonius University (Pécs, Hungary) and the Teacher Training College of Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest). She began to work as a research fellow for the 1956 Institute in 1992. After several studies on the history of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, her interest has focused on the cultural and social history of the Kádár era. She became head of the Oral History Archive of the Institute in 2009. She founded the content development visszaemlekezes.hu, which offers insights into the personal history of the 20th century. She is on the Board of Trustees of the 1956 Institute Foundation.