Calling on voices from the past to define the future

Notre Dame students evaluate WA’s oral history collection

A team of history and politics students from The University of Notre Dame Australia has embarked on a major project to evaluate thousands of interviews in the State Library of Western Australia’s Oral History Collection.

The project, undertaken in partnership with the State Library, is part of the University’s Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program.

We aim to reassess our cultural identity, how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves,

said team member and third-year history and philosophy student, Michael Vittiglia, who is helping to evaluate interviews with more than 7,000 people, recorded over the past 60 years.

“Oral history will play an important role and the project was identified as a priority by the State Library.

“Although a lot of interviews had been analysed and catalogued there were also a lot of ‘blind’ spots.  Our aim is to find amazing little gems of information among the huge number of interviews," he added.

The Library’s collection of interviews cover key areas including immigration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, and recollections from sporting and defence forces personnel over the decades.

The team from Notre Dame comprises eight members from a number of different disciplines, including history, politics, law and behavioural science, bringing a range of different skills to the project.

The semester-long project culminates in a report that will not only provide the library with an in-depth survey of their oral history collection but also give a significant boost to the team’s employment prospects.

“While it’s an inclusive unit for our degrees it has provided us with extensive real life experience and an advantage in finding employment in research in the future,” said Michael.

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