Five historians who have used oral history to study the rural South assess the ways that oral history methodology and content have complicated our understanding of the region’s agricultural past. They explore two major themes: first, the ways that the information gathered in oral history interviews revealed the diversity and complexity of the rural South and second, how the dialectical process of the interview—the give and take between interviewer and informant—shaped their interpretation of that rural past. Sharpless and Jones examine new content gained through interviews with German Americans and plantation managers, who have been excluded from most studies. Through their personal experiences, Petty and Schultz consider the ways in which relationships between interviewer and interviewee shape the narrative, often obviating differences of class and particularly race. Walker frames the discussion from her experiences in interviewing a variety of rural Southerners.

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