Listen to the Oral History Collection
Much of our knowledge of history is lost because it is never written down. Oral history is a method of gathering and preserving historical information by recording memories of people’s unique life experiences. The oral history interview creates a record of those memories, and preserves them for current and future generations. The recording of oral history is a two-way process in which someone shares memories with an interviewer who has carefully planned an interview.
Old Parliament House was home to the Australian federal parliament between 1927 and 1988. During those six decades thousands of people participated in the life of the House and its vicinity.
On 9 May 2009, Old Parliament House was relaunched as the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. The new museum showcases the history of Australian democracy, and continues to pay respect to the heritage values of this national heritage-listed building. We have broadened our role to include the story of democracy and democratic values in Australia and elsewhere. Our Vision Statement is: To celebrate, debate and experience the journey of Australian Democracy.
The Museum actively collects interviews as part of its Oral History Program. It conducts oral history interviews with a diverse range people including:
- former federal parliamentarians;
- individuals who personally knew former prime ministers (such as family members, friends and colleagues);
- former workers and staff; and
- rank-and-file activists of the parties that were represented in the federal parliament.
Since 1995, when the first interview was recorded for the program, more than 299 oral history recordings have been made and acquired by the Museum. Those interviewed include people who attended the building’s opening ceremony in 1927, parliamentary staffers and officers, Hansard reporters, journalists, construction workers, stenographers, police, drivers, managers, librarians, typists, gardeners, waitresses, caterers, paymasters, hairdressers, Clerks of the House and politicians.