Can Oral History Be Trusted

Topics: Mind, Civil service, Thought Pages: 4 (1444 words) Published: December 17, 2010
“Can Oral History be Trusted” ?

The 21st Century, a time we live in where nearly everything is documented. Whether it be written and put into archives or posted on Facebook. Things were much different in the early stage of man up until now. The cave people documented things by writing on walls, but can this be trusted? Even documents that have been written down cannot be trusted so can stories or myths have been written by people in their own diaries or in letters so loved ones be trusted? Essentially, when thinking about oral History stories such as Troy and how they were passed down the generations to come up with the story we now know. As it has been passed down for such a long time without being written down, or even if it has being written from certain people ( which means we would only get their side of the argument ) would mean that we can’t look at something and say it is true. With no real account of information actually documented in archives, which is made by historians we can’t come out and say that it is feasible and can’t can be trusted. By this is it meant that information found about the time is only found in the form of letters and/or diaries. If this is the case it is known that people do tend to over-exaggerate the event, this could either be because they are wanting to gain revenge over an old or current rival ( as Peter Oliver states “The fact is that oral testimony . . . is frequently used as means of paying off old scores” (1) . In Oliver’s mind, someone would manipulate a source so that they could make someone they dislike look bad ), or to make others feel sorry for them because of what they have been through. It can also be said that “tricks that the memory can play, to efforts at rationalization & self-justification that all of us make, even if only subconsciously, or to the terrible telescoping of time which an interview often encourages and which runs counter to the very essence of history”2 This can also happen with age, it is...
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