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Beginning Where We Are: Feminist Methodology in Oral History
Oral History Review (1987)
  • Dana C. Jack, Western Washington University
  • Kathryn Anderson, Western Washington University
  • Susan Armitage
  • Judith Wittner

Oral history is a basic tool in our efforts to incorporate the previously overlooked lives, activities, and feelings of women into our understanding of the past and of the present. When women speak for themselves, they reveal hidden realities: new experiences and new perspectives emerge that challenge the "truths" of official accounts and cast doubt upon established theories. Interviews with women can explore private realms such as reproduction, child rearing, and sexuality to tell us what women actually did instead of what experts thought they did or should have done. Interviews can also tell us how women felt about what they did and can interpret the personal meaning and value of particular activities. They can, but they usually do not.

Our fieldwork shows us that oral history has only skimmed the surface of women's lives. Women have much more to say than we have realized. As oral historians, we need to develop techniques that will encourage women to say the unsaid. We also need to move beyond individual accounts to make much more systematic use of our interviews. Here, then, we propose an interdisciplinary feminist methodology to achieve these goals.

  • Oral history,
  • oral historians,
  • interdisciplinary feminist methodology
Publication Date
Spring 1987
Publisher Statement
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Oral History Association Stable URL:
Citation Information
Dana C. Jack, Kathryn Anderson, Susan Armitage and Judith Wittner. "Beginning Where We Are: Feminist Methodology in Oral History" Oral History Review Vol. 15 Iss. FieldWork in Oral History (1987)
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