Agricultural Communication Oral History Project By Natalie Daily Federer
What is the oral history project?
The main goal of the Agricultural Communication History Project is to capture and preserve the voices of those who have retired from the agricultural communication community.
This includes individuals engaged in agricultural communication work as professional communicators and academicians. Their experiences, memories and insights about the origin of the agricultural communication field as a profession and academic discipline is vital to the understanding of the historical dimensions of this field.
Dr. James Evans in “Roaming the Changing Theoretical Landscape of Agricultural Communication” (2006) explores a number of theories and models utilized in the development of agricultural communication scholarship. One of these theories relates to the communication aspects of agricultural and rural development, thus encouraging us to think more broadly about the historical dimensions of agricultural communication. Through this project we wish to:
capture historical perspectives, experiences and memories in order to transcribe, study, and interpret this content into archival, classroom curriculum, and multimedia related formats that can be shared with those who are passionate about agricultural communication.
What are “oral histories”?
There are numerous definitions for the term “oral history” within the existing body of literature. We use the term here to describe a histographical research tool used to capture and preserve interview content from individuals about the past or personal reminiscences of events, politics, perspectives, experiences, interpretations, historical experience, person experience or lived experience.
Oral history, beyond the intentions of saving and preservation, is used to capture, extend and “fill in the gaps” of historical events, people and experiences that have either been marginalized or not in existence. Used to produce primary documentation, this research method can expand and broaden the current body of historical literature that exists about the agricultural communication community.
What is the significance of this project?
A small body of historical research exists regarding the agricultural communication discipline, but it has not been collected as representative of an academic/professional community. Some graduate students and faculty have generated timelines that combine the history of agriculture and communications, but there is great need to build and expand this literature.
Use of oral history as a research method can and will broaden and deepen the body of historical content as a foundation for strengthening development of the discipline into the future.
The actual oral history interview and transcription process are very highly regarded as pivotal primary documents and rigorous processes that require high standards of ethical scholarship. Ethical standards are involved in conducting the interview, typing the transcription and reflecting upon the interview. All of these areas have their own scholarship devoted to the analysis and development of oral history.
In that spirit, the Agricultural Communication Oral History Project takes steps to capture and share historical perspectives, experiences and memories of those working within the community.