Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Oral History and Working Class History: A Rewarding Alliance

Document type Article
Author Sangster, Joan
Journal Oral History Forum d'histoire orale
Volume 33
Date 2013
ISSN 1923-0567
Pages 1-15


Since the 1960s, if not before, oral history and working-class history have been a dynamic duo, complimenting and overlapping, but also challenging and questioning each other. Both lay and professional historians have been in the forefront of efforts to recuperate, interpret, and preserve the oral histories of working-class individuals and communities across the globe. They created written histories, archival collections, museum exhibits, and community projects that gave workers, their families, and their communities -- those who were less likely to leave archival and written sources for posterity -- a new voice, and a new place in history. Working-class oral history has also encompassed far more than recovery and preservation. Labour historians have enriched the field of oral history by addressing questions about method, theory, and approach, by offering critical reflections on our assumptions and expectations about oral history practice. Oral history has similarly enriched the field of working-class history, posing new questions, challenging existing interpretations, and encouraging the diversification of the themes and subjects we study. In recognition of this dynamic relationship, and the ongoing, mutually beneficial conversation between oral and working-class history, Oral History Forum commissioned this special issue. --Introduction