The Dawson Oral History Project (DOHP) began as a pedagogical initiative at Dawson College in Montréal, Québec in 2012. The project was designed to improve the research-training experience of CÉGEP students, and has since developed into a growing archive of community voices. Through DOHP, we have introduced oral history methodology into history and research methods courses, launching a student-led research initiative that has reached communities in and out of the academic context. Since 2012, our students have collected over one thousand interviews, turning to their family members and social networks as key sources of history. These recorded audio interviews are in-depth, personal narratives that document and explore diverse experiences, memories, and perspectives.
Every time one of our students records an interview with a member of their community they are engaged in doing original research, complicating and expanding existing bodies of knowledge regarding the meaning and experience of historical events. The diverse range of interviewees included in our collection, and the personal, narrative nature of the interviews capture the voices and experiences of Québec residents in a way that few primary sources can. Current DOHP collections include Life History interviews, and focused projects on the 2012 Québec Student Strikes, Immigration, and Language Issues in Québec. In the coming years, DOHP will continue to expand its collections of interviews on a wide range of societal issues.
The current administrators of DOHP are Mark Beauchamp and Ben Lander, who both teach courses in history and research methods at Dawson College. By developing interactive teaching methods and encouraging students to become actively involved in research, DOHP is training a new generation of research-scholars, creating an online archive of oral history interviews, and generating meaningful pedagogical tools for teachers. DOHP is a dynamic, student-based research initiative that produces new and unique source materials collected by and for members of the Montréal community; we believe it is a model for the kind of research that is possible at the CÉGEP level. The project encourages the exchange of research knowledge between and among our students, academic/research institutions, and the communities that are remembering and shaping history everyday.