Citing Oral Histories in Literacy Studies


  • Alison Turner University of Denver



Researchers use a variety of oral methods to include the knowledge and perspectives of historically underrepresented communities in their explorations of writing and literacy studies, and these methods are vital to more accurate understandings of the breadth of how literacy functions in societies. However, simultaneous to this important work of recording new oral histories, interviews, and videos is an overwhelming reliance on written sources in the Works Cited sections of these pursuits. In this article, I argue that recording new oral forms of information without citing oral sources perpetuates connections between written text as an authoritative source of evidence for the past and oral sources with the present. I share the low frequency with which authors in writing and literacy journals include oral history in their Works Cited sections and explore possible reasons for and consequences of a near-complete reliance on written sources. I conduct a close reading of an oral history donated by a woman named Jazz to emphasize its relevance to writing and literacy studies as a primary source. I end by suggesting that more intentional citation of oral sources contributes to ongoing efforts of inclusion in academic research, writing, and publishing. 

Author Biography

Alison Turner, University of Denver

Alison Turner is a doctoral graduate in English & Literary Arts from the University of Denver. Her critical work appears in the journals Archivaria, American Archivist, Community Literacy Journal, and Reflections, among others. She is on the editorial collective for Coda, the creative section of Community Literacy Journal, and she holds a 2022-2024 ACLS Leading Edge fellowship.




How to Cite

Turner, A. (2023). Citing Oral Histories in Literacy Studies. Literacy in Composition Studies, 10(2), 78–99.