Oral History Project
Oral Histories, first and foremost, are subjective recollections of past events. Oral histories are memory-based histories. Oral histories are conversational and personal. They are also uniquely able to democratize history-- when you interview people of differing backgrounds, both "famous" and "unknown" in relation to a subject, you gain a wide swath of perspective that would otherwise go missing in understanding said history. In the case of roller skating history, you have a wide range of backgrounds to approach to better understand the history as a whole.
Roller skating history includes the sport-- athletes, coaches, judges, parents, meet managers, organizers of regional, national, and world events. Roller skating history also includes rink operators, suppliers, members of the national organizations, social media stars, roller skaters from traditional media-- like television and film, journalists who covered roller skating through its surges of popularity, and more. Lastly, but equally important-- normal roller skaters-- people who go to their local rink every Adult Night, people who roller skate through their neighborhoods, people who practice on a local tennis court or in their garage, people who roller skate at skate parks; people of all ages, all races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, of varying physical ability, poor and rich are roller skaters.
The Oral History Project's goal is to interview the widest swath of roller skating backgrounds as possible to best serve the National Museum of Roller Skating's mission of collecting and preserving invaluable cultural information related to the past-time of roller skating. By doing this, the archive will be accessible to future researchers, curators, journalists, writers, and anyone else curious about certain time periods, places, and people in roller skating history.
The Oral History Project was created by Amy Richardson, past Museum Archivist. Amy has a unique background with a Master's degree in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Folklore as a discipline revolves around interviewing folk groups of varying sizes, locations, and backgrounds to collect cultural information to better understand group dynamics, specific cultural customs or behaviours, and more. Folklore is not about upholding hierarchical structures, but investigating the subjective, the informal, and the creative traditions that are passed along on a large and small scale. Folklore, like any field with human subjects, attempts to ethically and compassionately serve the people that are interviewed, surveyed, and otherwise engaged with during research.
During graduate school, Amy did a two-week intensive field school that revolved around learning about interviewing, interviewing locals, processing interviews, writing a paper, and presenting the paper to the community. Throughout graduate school she learned the ins and outs of ethical research and engagement with human subjects. She has an abundance of experience interviewing individuals for classes and for her Master's thesis. She had to gain certification from an ethics review in order to start her thesis research and maintained it throughout the entirety of the project. Amy's background at the National Museum of Roller Skating equips her with a strong knowledge of the history of roller skating.