During the 1960s a new form of journalism began to develop, thoughtfully titled “new journalism,” of which several journalists who are currently renowned were part of, including Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, and Hunter S. Thompson. There were many aspects that separated this style of writing from traditional journalism, but the most important and the most relevant to my project is that the writers would immerse themselves into the story—rather than playing the role as a detached observer who simply relays facts, the journalists actually became part of the story.
Because the period that I am researching (the
counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s) is recent enough, I am lucky enough to
be able to conduct oral history interviews with people who actually lived
during the era. By conducting these interviews, I have come to realize the role
of an oral history interviewer is similar to that of journalist. This laid the
foundation for my project: to relay oral histories in the same fashion as the “new
journalists” of the 1960s. In my desk at home, I have a tie-dye print binder
that I have been adding research materials to since I got accepted to graduate
school in February 2018. In the back of this binder are letters and transcripts
from conversations I have had with people including the guitarist for San
Francisco’s first psychedelic band, one of the creators of liquid light shows,
Charles Manson’s “right-hand man”, and some of the everyday people who resided
in Haight-Ashbury during the middle to late Sixties. When writing my master’s
thesis, or possibly even an eventual dissertation or book, I may only use a
quote or two taken from these interviews; however there is certainly so much
information that was shared. The focus of this project will thus allow me to
present more of the interview, as well as share more information about the
interviewees. The title of this “behind-the-scenes” blog is The Tie-Dye Binder, and the content
management system I will be using is WordPress.
When researching to see if something similar to The Tie-Dye Binder had been done before
to give me more ideas, I found that approaching oral histories as journalism is
not new. In fact, oral histories have their origin in journalism—Professor Allen
Nevins of Columbia University, who used to be a journalist was “dismayed to
learn that for many famous personnages [sic] the only available summary of
their contributions to society was in their obituaries,” he then sought out to
preserve their historical records while living with a tape recorder. A
more direct example of using history as a form of journalism is Thomas
Friedman’s 1986 book From Beirut to
Jerusalem, in which Friedman shares stories from his days as a journalist
in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War and Jerusalem during the First Intifada—in
order to fully cover these stories, Friedman shares the history that led to
I would love to see this blog become popular enough to
the point that it is more than just a hobby of mine, in which case I would say
the ultimate goal of this blog is to remove the idea that researching for one’s
thesis is a draconian practice, and that it can be something fun and exciting.
In the meantime, as only a very small audience will be reading The Tie-Dye Binder, the early benefits
are mostly about self-improvement—the blog will allow me to work on skills
relevant to being a historian in the 21st century, such as writing
for a public audience and communicating history through a variety of different
Because the blog posts I am writing deal with people
who are still living, there are certainly some privacy issues to be concerned
with. Now that I am further along into graduate school I have realized the
importance of asking for permission to use a person’s responses for any future academic work—for some of my
earlier interviews, I had asked if I may use their responses for my master’s
thesis specifically, which reaches a more limited audience than WordPress. For
this reason, unless it is someone who gave me explicit permission to use their
name in any way that I choose, I will be using either pseudonyms or referring
to them in a vague manner.
For now, The Tie-Dye
Binder will only feature written posts by me, but now that I have honed my
thesis to being a microhistory on the counterculture of Atlanta, I hope to conduct
video interviews with people over the summer, and perhaps index them using the
Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, or edit the interview to only show snippets
that are relevant to my posts, and embed them on The Tie-Dye Binder. The benefit here is that it will allow the audience
to see the interview in real time, and it will be an excellent accompaniment to
the posts I make. If I do end up posting the videos, I will certainly need to
gain permission from the interviewees, as it will remove their potential
Richard Lochead, “Three Approaches to Oral History: The Journalistic, the
Academic, and the Archival.” Canadian Oral History Association Journal 1 (1975):
5. Accessed March 22, 2019.
 Kritika Agarwal, “Want to Write for the AHA?” Perspectives On History, March 27, 2018, accessed March 20, 2019, https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/march-2018/want-to-write-for-the-aha-apply-today-to-become-a-summer-blogger.
“Kissing Cousins: Journalism and Oral History.” The Oral History
Review 31, no. 1 (2004): 1-22. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3675528.
“Three Approaches to Oral History: The Journalistic, the Academic, and the
Archival.” Canadian Oral History Association Journal 1 (1975): 5-12.
Accessed March 22, 2019.
O’Brien, Keith. “The
Power of Oral History as Journalism.” Nieman Foundation. May 5, 2016.
Accessed March 22, 2019.
Wen, Shuang. “Two
Sides of the Story: How Historians and Journalists Can Work Together.”
Perspectives on History, October 1, 2015. Accessed March 22, 2019. https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/october-2015/two-sides-of-the-story-how-historians-and-journalists-can-work-together.
Zoellick, Robert B.
“Journalists as Historians.” Foreign Policy, no. 98 (1995): 198-202.