Now that you have finished the narratives and read my reading notes, comment on the importance of “reading between the lines” when reading oral histories. Why is there such contradictions in the narratives? Why would the older slave have such a different memory than young children? What factors might play into their selective memories? Remember that this is during the Great Depression and these people have lived through the Jim Crow era (legalized segregation) and the terrorism threatened by the existence of such groups as the KKK
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Reading between the lines is a concept that is easily taken for granted but can help while reading and analyzing oral histories. At first glance, oral histories will appear like some of the most authentic resources available, and in many cases this is true. In my opinion, the age of the person interviewed is the most significant factor to weigh. We as humans tend to construct memories differently as a child then an adult, for example, I can recall memories from my childhood, but I gathered many of the details from my parents. Although I lived a part of these memories, I can honestly say I owe a large part of what I can recollect to my parents from listening to them tell their side of the story. I believe that many of the contradictions in these narratives come from the influence of elders somewhat re-constructing or altering memories of a child. I can personally contest to being just a little too young to remember small details of memories but having the tendency to insert the details I gained from my parents perspective as if they were my own.
I view this idea as something natural to humans and how we construct our memories. It’s easy to say that adults will retain more details when constructing a memory compared to a younger child who lives life on more of a day to day basis. In the end, it comes down to the perspective of the story, parents and elders play a critical point in impacting a child’s memories and need to be included when reading between the lines of oral histories.