Oral History

Burnside Historical Society (BHS) members Margaret Black and Margaret Preiss were interviewers in a National Bicentennial Project in 1988. In 1997 member Barbara Parker organised The War Years 1939-45 project, started by Barbara Crompton. About 20 local residents shared about the War years in parts of the Burnside Council area. They brought photographs and memorabilia, including of soldiers camping in Hazelwood Park.

Memory Chains – Living-Working-Playing in the City of Burnside (2012-2017)

Interviews (Stage 1 1945 – 65) (Stage 2 1960-1980)

This project looked at the post-war era and beyond. The objective for conducting these interviews was to capture the recollections of older residents. The project aimed to strengthen community, enrich the lives of those participants in the process, while emphasising the value placed on memories.

Burnside Historical Society’s committee supported the need to conduct these interviews and agreed to fund two digital recorders. Such items could not be included in grant applications. Two funding applications submitted to the Historical Society of South Australia’s Annual Grants Scheme (2012 and 2013) were successful. Burnside Council‘s Community Grant scheme provided extra funding for the project.

Initially there were three interviewers for this project – Anne Both, Meredith Ide and Jan Thornton. They were members of BHS with experience interviewing in workplaces and/or in a voluntary capacity. They met to compile questions relating to suburban life in the City of Burnside initially during 1945-1965. Interviewers gained new skills and had to be flexible in planning, liaising with interviewees and maintaining the project. A Conditions of Use Form for Oral History Interviews (Oral History Handbook – Beth M. Robertson) was mandatory to record interviewee’s details. All participants agreed to have their interview freely available. BHS sponsored Anne Both and Meredith Ide (Project Coordinator) to attend training with The Oral History Association (SA Branch) which was also contacted for advice. Those interviewers also attended some relevant sessions of the 2013 National Oral History Conference in Adelaide.

Cost prohibited the transcription of all the interviews. Each project participant received a disc copy of their interview and told where copies of their disc(s) would be stored for the future. They were provided with the opportunity for feedback. The majority of the recordings, converted to archival audio CD, together with related documents, were deposited in the Local History Room of the Burnside Library. A summary sheet for each interview accompanies every Audio CD which assists students, researchers and the public to find specific topics.

The Memory Chains Project – Living-Working-Playing in the City of Burnside

  • highlights and validates older persons’ life experiences
  • illustrates the value of capturing memories
  • empowers the interviewees while sharing their stories
  • provides an historic record as an accessible resource of changes, both physical and social, in Audio CD and Mp3 format, for community, teacher and student use
  • forms the basis for more in-depth social research on particular topics covered by this project
  • provides an ongoing learning tool, especially useful for local schools and encouraging intergenerational understanding

This list is adapted from an Oral History Workshop, conducted in September 2013 by the Oral History of Australia (SA Branch) Inc. demonstrating the value of Oral History.

Many BHS resources, including major projects like the Oral History interviews, have been donated to the Burnside Library. A Memorandum of Understanding between Burnside Historical Society and Burnside Library, the draft written by member John Love, was celebrated at a handover ceremony in 2014. The Memorandum was signed in 2017 (and again in 2022).