Bunbury Oral History Group
We enable local people to become part of the recorded history of Bunbury.
Winners of City of Bunbury 2022 Heritage Awards for Outstanding Heritage Promotion.
Recording whole-of-life stories of local people
See how we have made this possible for many people by simply interviewing and recording the stories of more than 600 people who live or lived in the Bunbury and Greater Region, talking about their childhood, schools, their parents and other family and their fondest, saddest and happiest moments.
Our group is just a collection of ordinary volunteers who enjoy gathering and processing the stories of individuals and of groups such as schools, clubs, families and organizations.
We receive donations for our interviews to earn the money to keep going, so give generously if our service is of value to you. We are all volunteers who enjoy doing something really worthwhile.
Photographs are great, but the opportunity to hear that voice again is very powerful.
Monthly Committee Meetings: 3rd Monday of the month at 7pm.
Members who work at home meet Tuesdays at the Bunbury Museum and Heritage Centre from 10am – 12pm.
Skills required or taught
We are always looking for new members to join us. Should you wish to suggest yourself or another for an interview, please contact us giving as many details as you can.
What we are after at Bunbury Oral History Group is to add to the history of Bunbury.
The life story of most people will give us this through recording interviews that give us a fresh, new insight into life in Bunbury both in the past and the present.
We seek people who agree to release their stories to the public record as soon as we can prepare them. We reserve the right to accept, or delay interviewing a person according to such factors as available time.
Come along and see what we do and how it impacts your community.
What is oral history?
Every day that our members work, they process an on-going record of the history of the people of Bunbury.
Members interview people in our community. This may be a relative, a person from any walk of life, a person who holds some community position, or many others. This interview is recorded onto high-quality digital media.
The person interviewed is asked to sign a deed that sets out how the interview is to be shared or not with the public, so the person is in complete control. The recording is then transcribed so there is a text version of the words. A synopsis is made giving a brief overview of the scope of the interview.
The recording is made into an mp3 recording and the text is re-created in pdf format and these are burned to a CD one copy of which is given to the person interviewed. Another copy is kept for later distribution if the deed allows this. If there are any photographs, a digital magazine may be created.
A digital copy of both the recording and the text is then given to the Battye Library in Perth to become part of their records of the oral histories of people from all over Western Australia.
What results from this process is that the stories of people in our community are captured for posterity and made available to others.
Having a recording is also a way of someone’s great, great grandchildren hearing their relative years after they’ve passed. Not only that but the valuable outcomes for interviewees include:
Why is history important?
History is important because it allows us to understand our past, which in turn allows us to understand our present. Who are you without your memories?
Combine the individual stories in an oral history collection and you begin to have ‘collective memory’. It’s the story of a group of people, bound by a common past.
In addition to helping us understand who we are, history helps us become informed, active citizens of our home countries and of the world. Being an informed citizen is essential to a functional democratic society.
Oral history is a democratiser, a levelling mechanism for recorded history and is a powerful way to balance out the written account of history with multiple perspectives for, most often, the stories of everyday people in the community fall through the cracks in the written record.
Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry and one of the most modern. Let us break this down a little: The oldest continuous culture on earth, the Australian Aboriginal, recorded its history and culture orally.
Our culture now is largely one based on electronic records: video, audio and the printed word, technologies that have enabled us to stand on the shoulders of giants and reach more people than ever.
So oral history was the first form of history and, with modern technology, it is the most modern of histories. An oral history interview is as valid as other primary sources — maps, photos, manuscripts, diaries, ledgers… which, in today’s world, are being replaced by the digital and so, without oral history, much of the personal history of today would be lost to future historians.