'That was a posed photo': Reflections on the process of combining oral histories with institutional photographs

Oral History Association of Australia (OHAA)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Oral History Association of Australia Journal, 2013, 35 (1), pp. 49 - 57
Issue Date:
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This paper emerged from observations following oral history interviews with thirty people who worked at the New South Wales (NSW) Government Printing Office, Sydney between 1933 and 1989. This project incorporates photographs from the NSW Government Printing Office collection: institutional images taken within this public service workplace. This paper describes how the use of institutional photographs during the oral history interview can provide insight into the disjuncture between bureaucratic representations of an organisation, and former employees' recollections of working life. Oral history interviews indicate that these former employees possessed a confident and playful awareness of the 'grey area' between institutional representation and everyday practice, and they performed an active role in the shaping of some of these situations. this paper engages with oral history literature on the relationship between oral testimony and photographs, and opens up the fuel to include the use of institutional photographs in the interview process, rather than personal or family images, which have often been the focus of previous research in this area.
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