The Legacies Project
When I worked in Palm Springs I held a tape recorder for a gentleman during the therapy session who was recounting his time in the war and in great detail his time in Burma. It was fascinating to hear this man's history. He was doing it so his family will have a better understanding of him and a record of what he accomplished.
Not too long ago I read about The Legacies Project--which is doing something similar, but on a larger scale.
Jay Nelson and Jimmy Rhoades (www.nicework.tv/about.html) formally collaborated on the concept of collecting videotaped oral histories of residents in nursing homes by building it into school curricula.
"Students are trained to enter nursing homes over multiple visits to videotape comprehensive oral histories of residents. Then they're trained to add informational tags to the video, so that when oral histories are added to the project archive, it's fully keyword searchable," Mr. Nelson explained.
Jimmy Rhoades elaborated, "We want the archive to have the most value possible, so the entire project has Institutional Review Board Certification through the University of Michigan - Flint. The lead researcher is project partner Dr. Heather Seipke, who is a Certified Gerontologist. The students who do the interviews are actually trained to be Certified Research Assistants, which looks pretty good on a college application. It also lets future historians who access the archive know that proper research protocols were followed when the stories were gathered."
Jimmy points out that participation of residents is voluntary and they can decline to answer any question or end an interview anytime. "So far the facilities, staff and participants have been not just cooperative, they've been really enthusiastic and gone above and beyond to make the project a success."
In early 2010 http://www.legaciesproject.org/ will be up and running with samples of their work and short stories.