Why Memory of Nation?
This portal is based on the witnesses' renditions of important historical events of the previous century. The renditions are often subjective and distorted. The collection of a large quantity of such personal recollections creates an expression of certain ‘collective memory' of people united by a territory, language, or nationality. Hence the memory of a nation. We perceive the nation as a group of people with certain shared historical experience. We do not wish to limit our project to a strictly national viewpoint - after all, the published witnesses already include holocaust victims alongside Wehrmacht soldiers, big city intellectuals alongside natives of small Carpathian villages - and all of these people could feel to be Czechs in their lives. In addition, we intend to present the Memory of Nation portal as a European platform.
How do I co-create the Memory of Nation portal?
If you wish to record interesting memories of witnesses, you have two possibilities:
- If you are a private person, you can become a member of the Community of European Memory as a collaborator of the Post Bellum association, which is the chief coordinator of the project and has recorded witnesses' memories since 2001. Write to the authorised members of Post Bellum; then you will take a brief test (covering the history of the 20th century, oral history issues, and basic technical knowledge related to recording and processing recordings). If you succeed and prove your prowess during the subsequent recording, you may become the collector/narrator for Post Bellum. Post Bellum rewards the work for the association depending on the results achieved.
- If you are a representative of an institution or organisation (a mass medium, school, museum, civic association, or another entity) implementing an oral history project, please write to the administrators and provide a brief description and methodology of your project. The authors of the Memory of Nation portal welcome any activity recording the memories of witnesses, provided that it meets the basic methodological criteria. We provide no financial reward to affiliated projects and institutions; as compensation, we can offer a free easy-to-use system of storing witness data on the Internet and the incorporation of your institution in the Community of European Memory, which entails a possibility of comparing your results with colleagues from all over Europe as well as presenting the results of your work on the Internet and/or in other media.
Why are full recordings not published?
Multiple oral history projects had primarily a scholarly objective - the publication of the recorded recollection was not envisaged. Even the Post Bellum collection, which has become the foundation of the Memory of Nation portal at the moment and which has envisaged outputs in the form of radio programmes from the very beginning, includes witnesses who did not consent to the publication of the entire recording or its parts. The authors of the Memory of Nation portal pursue the primary aim of presenting the obtained content in as democratic a manner as possible; at the same time, though, we make sure to respect the various witnesses' wishes as well as the rules of the institutions that keep the memories. In addition, it is necessary to realize that witnesses often talk about sensitive topics; therefore we consider it correct to make their depositions accessible to those who show a deeper interest in the topic. This is why a common unregistered user can currently peruse only the biographical texts and photographs and play audio samples characterising the witnesses' personalities and their chief experiences. We are happy to welcome everybody who wishes to gain a deeper knowledge of the full recordings and all gathered content to our research room.
What is research room, and how do I become a researcher?
Just as "usual" historical documents are stored in an archive, the collection of witnesses' memories at the Memory of Nation portal is conceived as a digital archive, which is subject to certain rules. Everybody who is interested in a deeper knowledge of the gathered content shall complete a registration form; then the administrators will send them their researcher's certificate with authorisation to enter the researcher room to their specified mailing address. We do not want to restrict access to content for example on the basis of the education achieved or profession (anybody can work in a usual archive), but we want to be sure that the researcher is a specific person with certain motivation - and not just an anonymous Internet user. This is why we have chosen the above procedure for registration in the research room. In addition to gaining access to full recordings and added documents, researchers may add their comments on the various witnesses and participate in technical discussions, or start new scholar topics. All of the above is subject to the observance of the research room rules.