Oral History: Advantages and disadvantages
- This is a great way to save undocumented history that might be endangered or is about to extinct.
- It can give voice to people who cannot write as well themselves, and people whose stories are not documented in other ways.
- People telling their own stories also give their perspectives on the topic.
- Audio or visual history told by an involved person gives the closest representation to a particular time or period even after 50 and 100 years.
- History in audio or visual gives another dimension that text might not give.
- Documenting a history of several decades in audio or video is time saving rather than writing 50 years of history.
- A useful way of documenting the past to give an overview of a topic, person, thing, period or phenomena.
- An excellent tool for people who cannot read to know the history
- The interview object might lose his/ her memory.
- The accuracy of the details might be weakened.
- The interview object might tell what they wished to gain rather than what they gained in reality.
- Some will only talk about positive achievements and avoid talking about setbacks and challenges.
- Oral history might create a selective history.
A user of an oral history document might search for other archival documents to verify details about a certain time, incident, action, transaction that are told in oral history. This will be a natural process in research or production based on oral history. These disadvantages are important to note when one does source criticism (information evaluation). However, they should not discourage from doing oral history as the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.