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From the Southern Oral History Program, this is Press Record: a podcast about the joys and challenges of learning history by talking to those who lived it.

Summer is in full swing here at the SOHP and this month’s episode of Press Record explores a sillier but often overlooked topic: what happens when animals take center stage during an oral history interview?

First, Rachel Seidman describes three moments when pets (almost) derailed her interviews and how reaching out to the Twitterverse revealed a widespread phenomenon of animal sounds in the field. Next, Charlotte Eure sits down with former SOHP intern Kadejah Murray and current PhD student Rachel Gelfand who recount their respective trials with felines as young oral historians. Finally, co-hosts Charlotte and Rachel offer some tips on how to navigate appropriately including companion animals before and during the interview process.

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You can listen to Episode 5 below through SoundCloud and please subscribe and rate us on iTunes here!

A cute kitten and his cute puke beside Rachel Gelfand's recorder.
A cute kitten and his cute puke beside Rachel Gelfand’s recorder.
Trisha Harms and her cat.
Trisha Harms and her cat.

Supplemental Materials

The opening clip of this episode comes from an interview with Martha Cartwright as part of the Breaking New Ground: A History of American Farm Owners Since the Civil War project. Find the entire interview here.

Kadejah Murray’s interview with Karen Parker has not yet been processed. Find out more about the SOHP internship and the Black Pioneers project here.

The oral history excerpts of Erin Parrish, Dana Edell, and Trisha Harms conducted by Rachel Seidman are not yet available in the SOHP archive.

You can find the SOHP’s twitter page here. Feel free to tweet and share your stories with pets and oral history!


Episode 1: Silence Speaks Volumes

Episode 2: Back Ways

Episode 3: Feminism and Oral History

Episode 4: LGBTQ Southern Oral History and Activism

Episode 5: Pet Sounds

Episode 6: Sweet Emotion

Episode 7: Oral History for Movement Building

Episode 8: Voices From Charlotte

Episode 9: Veterans and Oral History

Episode 10: Women and Politics in the South

Episode 11: Oral History and the ERA

Episode 12: Revisiting “Back Ways”

Episode 13: New Roots/ Nuevas Raíces