Shuman, Amy. "Oral History." Oral Tradition 18:1 (2003), 130-131.
Shuman observes that we may find it intriguing that there is such a thing as "oral literature" and "historical documentation" and, thus, it should be unsurprising to find such a thing as "oral history" (Shuman 2003, 130). In this field, a project will normally collect oral testimony, folklore, and the stories people tell. She observes that "some oral history studies have an explicit social change agenda. Oral historians rarely remain neutral regarding their relationships with the people they study and the possible uses of their work" (Shuman 2003, 130).
The relationship between the historian and the person providing source material is challenging. Shuman notes that the actual historian is tasked with decoding the often conflicting reports heard. There is an additional challenge regarding the function of oral history as it may have a role in creating an overall narrative which may comfort or torment different individuals. This makes interpreation especially challenging (Shuman 2003, 131).