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Hartley Oral History Project


Hartley Oral History Project Plan

April 2014


The aim of the Hartley Oral History Project is to foster a deepening understanding of the past of the Hartley Valley region by collecting, preserving, and sharing the historically significant memories of individuals who have spent all or much of their lives in the region or have contributed to it’s development through their work here.

Oral history supports and complements mainstream history, and in this project we propose to record the memories of people who probably would not otherwise tell the story of their unique experiences. The History Research Group of the Hartley District Progress Association proposes to record and collect oral history interviews with residents of the Hartley Valley, encompassing the Kanimbla, Gangbenang, Cullenbenbong, Lowther, Good Forest and Hampton regions.

These will be social history interviews which document the experiences and encounters of everyday life in the Hartley District, and so detail the changes that have affected this valley over the years. This will form a social history of the Valley, expressing the unique experiences that would not be found in history books but are the essence of lives lived. These will be of great interest to current and future generations, whether descendants of early pioneers or relative newcomers to the area.

Oral history materials may be defined as interviews recorded by especially trained interviewers (‘oral historians’) with selected interviewees who speak from personal experience on subjects of local and historical interest. Such interviews are usually recorded in audio format, i.e. as sound recordings, and may also be transcribed. The project  aims to specialise in recording historically focused, wide-ranging interviews, with an emphasis on frank communication and original content. In some cases, follow-up interviews may be recorded at later stages of an individual’s life and career.

We  will work hard to interview individuals within the Hartley region, document our community, and preserve its oral history because we want individual stories to, eventually, connect to the historical record and contribute to a larger social, cultural, and human understanding of how people lived, learned, worked, thought and played in the Hartley area in times past.

We are aware that the value of oral history material depends heavily on the interviewing and technical skills of interviewers, as well as their subject expertise and the quality of their recording equipment.

We undertake to follow the ethical guidelines set out by the Australian Oral History Association. The resultant interviews will be housed at the Lithgow Library Local Studies Collection, and the National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection, to be made available to future researchers of local history whether for formal research or family history inquiry, according to the written wishes of each interviewee.

We will use Release forms which make it clear to the interviewee, without question, how the interviews will be used, minimising the chances for misunderstanding.

In addition to offering some protection, release forms also remind the oral historian that the interviewee grants us the privilege of using something that does not belong to us.

In order to enable written transcripts to be made of the interviews, we will apply for a grant from the Department of Environment & Conservation Heritage Office, and other sources to cover the costs involved with this undertaking.

Decisions about what further things can be done with the information gathered in this project can be decided at a later date (books, exhibitions etc).

The current brief is to get the interviews, get them logged and transcribed. That will be a big enough project on its own.

Revised on 3rd April, 2014 to include suggestions from HDPA Meeting of 3rd March, 2014 and information received at a meeting of local Oral History Groups on 1st April, 2014.


Oral History Weekend Workshop 


On the weekend of 3rd and 4th August, 2013 Central West Libraries, working out of Orange City Library, hosted a workshop about Oral History in the  Digital Age – a wonderful opportunity for those west of the Mountains to experience an introduction to Oral History theory and practice led by the passionately enthusiastic Trish Levido and assisted by the equally inspiring and competent Sandra Blamey from the Oral History Association of NSW.

Having recently lost Chris Bird and his wealth of knowledge and experience of the Hartley Valley over the past 84 years without having held a microphone in front of him, and not wanting to lose any more of our older residents without preserving their stories, the Progress Association offered two places to this workshop to anyone in the valley interested in learning about this fascinating discipline. Diane  Green and Fran Leighton put their hands up and  are both very grateful to the HDPA for this opportunity. It was a great weekend.

As well as an introduction to oral history and the nature and reliability of memory we were taught how to prepare and structure an oral history interview, about issues around ownership of the material and copyright, choosing and using a digital recorder, downloading editing on computer programs and publishing recordings to disc or other storage media.

Sandra showed us how one project can lead to another in her research about the Serbian tomato growers of the Warriewood Valley, while Trish interviewed one of the workshop participants to show us how an oral history recording is conducted.

Not only was the Workshop itself invaluable in the information shared, but so many interesting people attended – not just from Orange but Canowindra, Oberon, Wentworth Falls, and even as far away as Canberra & Hornsby.

Jasmine Vidler of Central West Libraries was a terrific hostess and provided us all with excellent morning and afternoon teas and lunches and made sure we were made welcome and our needs met.

The HDPA very generously paid for our Saturday night accommodation at Summer East Apartments – a very enjoyable and comfortable experience. We also stayed there on the Friday night at our own expense to avoid an early morning drive to Orange on potentially  icy roads.

It was all quite a lovely adventure which has inspired us to really get involved in recording the personal history of those who have lived and worked in Hartley when life was very different to the way it is now, as well as the stories of our own family members. In fact we’re going to be quite busy with this over the next few years, I can tell!






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