Channeling Changes and Voices from the Past: How Recorded Audio and Oral Histories Reshape BC Historical Methods and Meaning
Two years ago, we (Ed Harrison and Maureen Atkinson) presented a poster session on their continuing research into the Georgetown sawmill on the Northwest coast of BC. The collection of archival materials that were collected in 1977 will soon be digitized and then the collection will be accessible to researchers at a public archive in Northern BC.
At BC Studies 2021, we will discuss a few of the digitized oral recordings of former employees of the Georgetown sawmill. We are interested in how the recorded voices and spoken words resonate historically with a present day audience. We recognize that audio recordings relate the ‘ways of knowing’ their profession as mill workers in the early 20th century, yet when we establishing the historical time frame and personal context of the interview participants, the audio recordings become more than artifacts alone. The content of 1977 audio recordings take on new meaning for researchers, listeners and more importantly the families of interview subjects when we add these important contextual elements. We establish new interpretations of BC’s past but also we can build new relationships, and new ways of being as we navigate the complexities of ownership and repatriation of these voices.
The power found in the recorded voices of deceased individuals provide an intimate way of understanding our collective past, thus altering our ways of knowing the past but also establishes new ways of being in the present.
Ed Harrison and Maureen Atkinson
Maureen Atkinson PhD is a graduate of the Tri-history program at the University of Waterloo (2018) and is an adjunct professor at UNBC history department. She also is a sessional faculty member of TRU and an active member of the TRU Opening Learning team. She has taught for several institutions over the years, and recently moved from Terrace BC to Williams Lake but continues to work with Ed Harrison PhD on the Georgetown historical project. She is also actively working projects that focus on radio and repatriation of historical recordings to Indigenous families and communities across the province.
Edward Harrison PhD. Former Coordinator for Bachelor of Education Coordinator for the University of Northern British Columbia, (retired in 2020) Dr. Harrison has also taught social studies in the public school system in BC for over three decades in the city of Terrace where he still lives with his wife Carol,
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