Listening to the City: Oral History and Place in the Digital Era

This essay explores the development of a mobile interpretive project, Cleveland Historical, that draws on oral history theory and practice to emphasize aurality as a key element in digital (and especially mobile) interpretive projects. Developed at the intersection of oral history and digital humanities theory and practice, Cleveland Historical suggests a model of curation that emphasizes a dynamic, layered, and contextual storytelling endeavor. The resulting curatorial process transforms the landscape into a living museum, one in which the community actively participates in remaking understandings of place and community identity. Of particular note, this collaborative oral history project provides a transformative way of understanding “place” and of moving beyond an emphasis on visual interpretive practice, in order to provide a deeper way of building interpretive stories for public humanities exhibitions on mobile computing devices.