Oral Histories can be broadly defined as reminiscences from within living memory. It is natural that one should turn to long time residents first as they have the largest store of memories. Also, if one includes the stories told to them by others long since gone, we can say that oral histories go back some two generations.
One of the great benefits of collecting oral memories is the possibility of returning to cross-check or expand a particularly interesting fact or story with the person who was directly involved at the time. Add to this the further possibility of collecting contemporary documentation, photographs and related objects to support and illustrate the memories and you have a very effective method of recording the recent past.
Miriam Wilkins and Lucinda Lourie learnt about the techniques involved whilst attending a course on Local History at the City Discovery Centre in 1995. Since then they have been applying their knowledge during conversations with Ella West, George Cowley and Edie Tompkins. The latter's recollections form the basis of Miriam's account of the 1932 Christmas Play Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme the first of our articles in this section.