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    Notre Dame setting up Irish oral history archive

    By Noreen Bowden | April 8, 2011

    The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana is working on an online database of Irish oral history that will allow users to upload their stories themselves.

    The project, headed by Deb Rotman, the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Anthropology, is aimed particularly at capturing tales from the generation of immigrants who lived through the Irish Civil War and in early twentieth-century America.

    “Those generations have some really great stories that we’re trying to capture, but we can only do so much,? says Rotman in a press release from the university. The project will allow immigrants to upload their own experiences using audio, text, photos and possibly video.

    The project is linked in with the university’s archaeological and anthropological exploration of Michigan’s Beaver Island, which was inhabited in the 19th century by a group of Irish people largely from the Donegal island of ?rainn Mhór. In Beaver Island, they created a farming lifestyle similar to the one they’d left behind – so in studying this community, students are gaining an insight into a rural immigrant experience, unlike the more frequently studied urban Irish experience in the US.

    “The archaeological record and the historic documents work together telling different parts of the same story,? says Rotman, “and oral history is the third leg of that stool.?

    As an alumnus of Notre Dame, I’m pleased to see such innovative Irish projects coming from there – particularly as I attended back in the dark ages, even before there was an Irish Studies option! The University now has one of the highest-profile Irish Studies programmes in the world.

    Read the press release on the Notre Dame website.

    Meanwhile, I’ve updated my GlobalIrish.ie list of Irish oral history projects. Am I missing any? Let me know!

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