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Oral history is a method of understanding the past through oral accounts, such as an interview or conversation. It is the study of the past as it is remembered in the present. What is remembered and why is vitally important in oral history. Meaning and memory can be found in the words spoken, as well as in the voice or gestures of the individual.

People's relationship to their own stories, where they linger and what they skip over, helps us understand the logic of waht we are hearing. The life story approach is a practice within oral history. This approach finds meaning the context of a live lived. It also puts memory front and centre, which in the case of human rights and genocide, is a rare practice. More typically, interviews are conducted only for information and very little space is given to the larger story. (Steve High, Life Stories of Montreal). Video interviews are a great way to capture both what is shared and how it is conveyed.

Download chapter 4 under the book for a more in-depth discussion on conducting oral histories in the classroom and see below for tips on video interviews (under Book).

Witness has resources online in 17 languages about how to conduct a video interview.

The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide is a good place to get basic concepts of interviewing and oral history.

The Apathy Is Boring site and the Hoodstock festival are examples of artists getting involved in issues and trying to make a difference.

To see some examples of videos made by newcomer youth - explore the LINC for Youth Video Project



Digital storytelling is usually associated with short autobiographical narratives that combine photographs and short written narratives. Combining photography and writing is effective because the technology is quick to grasp and permits a group to emphasize message over technological know-how. Find handouts on writing, photography, and working with sensitive stories.

PhotoVoice is an international organization and a method that uses photography as an advocacy tool to help individuals voice their personal experiences of oppression and lobby for social reform. Digital storytelling is a methodology that was developed at the University of California (Berkeley) by the Center for Digital Storytelling ). The term can also refer to more complex projects and involve hypertext fiction, animations, and any form of narrative designed to be diffused via the Internet. Mapping Memories developed weekend and longer term courses to explore these different methods of digital storytelling and you can find our more by downloading chapter 3, 4 or 5 under Book.

Center for Digital Storytelling

Young mothers with experience living on the street told their own stories through photography in "I Was Here."

Presentation: Artistic Elements in Composition



There are many exciting ways to work with sounds, mapping and self organized bus or walking tours in collaborative media projects. ‘Going Places’ was our story bus on wheels where we created soundscapes and toured passengers around the city of Montreal. ‘Queer is in the Eye of the Newcomers’ was a walking tour that we then turned into a non-linear web documentary using the open-source program, Korsakow. In this section find advice on recording sound or leading a walking tour.

Download chapters 3 and 5 under BOOK in the navigation bar to find out exactly how we organized the walks.

Check out some projects that influenced our work:


Find out everything you need to know to organize your own community walk.

This web site designed by geographer Toby Butler showcases two audio tours along the Thames River in London, England. Butler has written extensively on these and other tours. See also his Ports of Call project.

LINKED was a project by sound artist Graeme Miller


Here “characters” use direct address to take you on a tour, you might
otherwise miss. The voice is playful, performed and they make use of films
and other formats to tell the story. Video and Audio come into “play” in
this project. Toby Butler spoke very highly of these walking tours during his visit to Montreal in November.

The Museum of London organized an ambitious project focusing on stories of 


A public artwork designed to engage pedestrians as they move along the seawall walkways in Vancouver, Canada and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Uses cutting edge wireless networking and video streaming technology to create real-time links between urban mega-developments in Canada and the United Arab Emirates. When people gather at two or more locations simultaneously, the portal senses their presence and come to life, streaming live video feeds that allow those Dubai to see and interact with their counterparts in Vancouver, and vice versa.

was a visual journey of sites overlooked in Vancouver.

This site showcases the place stories of 11 interviewees.


In this audio walking tour, former residents of a Montreal neighbourhood that no longer exists reflect on their memories of Griffintown and the changes that have occurred. What is the connection between home and memory?

WARREN OREE walks Northern Liberties & Ortleib’s Jazzhaus

One of a collection of city walks – this video follows Warren Oree as he explains significant places past and present.

Visit our links section for more information and tools pertaining to the creation of soundscapes.



New mapping technologies have gained the attention of artists and individuals using maps as organizational or analytic tools. Mapping Memories used a variety of mapping methods from the most basic drawing exercises to software that helped link personal narratives to online references. In this section find a 'timeline' exercise and mapping resources.

The Tactical Technology Collective in their resource, “Maps for Advocacy” explains how maps help to visualize communities by representing links between places, events, and facts. For more information on how we integrated mapping into our projects download chapters 2 and 5 under BOOK in the navigation bar.

Mapping Resources:

The Tactical Technology Collective
offers a free booklet that serves as an introduction to geographical mapping techniques and a guide to using mapping in advocacy work.

The suggests tools to use in mapping your space.

Notes For a People’s Atlas provides tips on how to make a map about things that are important to you and examples of other people’s maps.

In the NFB documentary Our Nationhood, an aboriginal group struggles to define themselves as a nation and to assert their belonging to their traditional land.

Some places were once a home for people but are changing. Check out ‘The Making of The Corner’ and discuss whether remembering a sense of home that doesn’t exist anymore can result in change.



A public service announcement (PSA) is a short radio or video spot (15, 30, or 60 seconds) that delivers a simple social message and a call to act. Making a PSA is an excellent exercise to develop media skills, to learn how persuasive texts work, and to develop texts for a real audience. Find a handout that describes our steps in making PSAs.

Mapping Memories worked with a human rights lawyer, Mitchell Goldberg and a class of 24 Concordia Communication students over a period of four weeks to develop two PSAs on the delays refugee claimants face while waiting for the Canadian Government to process their claims.To see the our PSA visit -
To read the press release we wrote to get the word out - visit 2 Years 2 Many under projects.

Connected Resources:

The Apple Learning Exchange has curriculum ideas and samples for intermediate students developing PSAs.

This curriculum from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education for high school students focuses on a critical understanding of the function of PSAs.



Inviting participants of collaborative projects to share their work and experiences with a broader public can be not only individually empowering, but can also contribute to far-reaching social change that influences social opinion and affects entire communities. The resources below help you think through what to consider when dealing with the press or planning a public event.

Find resources below on how to plan an exhibition, write a press release, and considerations for dealing with the press.

Key ideas:

1. Before agreeing to do a press interview, research who you will be talking to. How have they covered the issue in the past?

2. Inquire about the length of the segment and prepare accordingly. Are they looking for a sound bite or something more in-depth.

3. Explore worse-case scenarios regarding press exposure in order to prepare participants and assess if the press is beneficial to the individuals involved.

4. Rehearse questions the press might ask.

5. Respect an individual's decision to decline to be in the media spotlight.

6. Ensure that participants are accompanied by team members and a facilitator, whenever dealing with the press.

Tips taken from p. 67 of the book - chapter 3



Many of our stories are the perfect length to use with newcomer students who are learning English. Our collaborator, Kevin Stanley teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at Concordia and used Mapping Memories examples to get his own students telling their stories. He developed viewing guides for two Mapping Memories projects that he felt worked especially well in an introductory or intermediate ESL class. Discover the resources he developed.

Download his guides and try it out in your classrooms.

A Taste of Home - Introductory Level
YUL-MTL - Intermediate Level



Music is a powerful way to bridge culture, language, and identity. Mapping Memories worked with a group of youth at the Cotes-des-Neiges Youth Center to make a music video and discover how their cultural roots influence their music. Find out more about Hip Hop No Pop, an innovative project that uses hip-hop as a means to address identity, race, class and power in the school system through our interview with Nantali.

Related Projects:

Nomadic Massive

Smithsonian Folkways is a non-profit record label that offers free audio recordings and educational materials

Folk Songs for the Five Points is a celebration of cultural diversity and change, using “folk songs” as a metaphor to explore immigration and the formation of identity in New York’s Lower East Side.

Visit the IMP lab - Interactive media and performance

Find out more about Hip Hop No Pop, an innovative project that uses hip-hop as a means to address identity, race, class and power in the school system - look for Nantali in our video and blog sections.



The Canadian Council for Refugees has developed a wealth of resources that can be used in the classroom. One of their most popular is an immigration history timeline as well as a helpful timeline on refugee rights.

On their public education page find a glossary, myths and facts sheets as well as many other resources.



What does consent mean in a digital age when information gets spread anywhere and anytime. What tools should I use into the classroom? This section addresses the practical information connected to making participatory media projects.

Principles of Consent:

Consent is best developed over time

Consent happens when individuals know where their work is going