Abstract

The digital revolution is giving oral historians exciting new ways to record, index, search, and share oral history interviews with larger and more remote audiences. The Illinois State Museum’s Oral History of Illinois Agriculture (OHIA) project used an array of digital methods and tools to develop an interactive website, called the Audio-Video Barn, which gives voice to people involved in agriculture and rural life in Illinois. The OHIA approach can serve as a model for anyone looking for engaging new ways to share oral histories with community audiences. First, the Audio-Video Barn joins a growing chorus of websites that go beyond the limitations of printed words in traditional oral history transcripts; it gives visitors access to primary-source audio and video recordings that restore emotion and meaning to the stories being told. Second, the Audio-Video Barn uses digital indexing of audio and video recordings to make them searchable in a database format. Finally, the Audio-Video Barn opens its doors to provide free access to searchable recordings via the Internet, making them widely available to diverse audiences.

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