Document Type


Publication details

Wessell, A 2008, 'Conversations on the river: engaging students in community oral history projects', Oral History Association of Australia Journal, vol. 30, pp. 25-32.

The abstract and pdf of the published article reproduced in ePublications@SCU with the permission of Oral History Association of Australia


This paper explores an attempt at bringing together the academic pursuit of scholarship with a university's engagement with the community through an innovative exercise in community oral history. It also raises questions about the role of location as a stimulus to memory and storytelling. 'Conversations on the river' was an event organised by Southern Cross University, Lismore, as an exercise in engaged student learning. Members of the Lismore community were invited to come down to the Wilson River to share their stories about the setting, with their memories recorded by university students. These contributions to the local oral history collection later informed the creation of heritage story sites along the river. The recording of private and shared memories in public helped both to create and sustain community links with the university and to provide a forum for the generation of public history. The paper offers insights about the process of undertaking community oral histories with students, and explores the strengths of this approach as an exercise in community engagement.

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