Palestinian Oral History Archive
American University of Beirut
The Palestinian Oral History Archive is an archival collection that contains more than 1,000 hours of testimonies from first-generation Palestinians and other Palestinian communities in Lebanon The project will digitize, index, catalog, preserve, and provide access to the material through the creation of a state-of-the-art digital platform. It aims to expand and include additional oral history collections documenting varied aspects of the Palestinian experience in Lebanon and the region. The project is being completed in partnership with the American University of Beirut Libraries, the Nakba Archive, and the Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts (AI-JANA).
The community working to realize the archive includes an array of prominent scholars, librarians, and cultural practitioners, representative of diverse disciplines and backgrounds. This multidisciplinary approach allows for engagement with the experience of Palestinian refugees and the multifaceted construction of the modern history of Palestine. By tapping into newly available digital tools, the archive’s main aim is to make these narratives accessible through an online database, thus facilitating access to these resources in all their richness, their layered significance, and their oral nature, through active and dynamic engagement. The archive will serve academics, students, artists, activists and the various Palestinian and Arab community organizations in Lebanon and the Diaspora.
The eyewitness narratives of first generation refugees have been instrumental to the survival of the cultural geography of spaces, traditions, and histories from pre-1948 Palestine. Our archive documents the life stories of Palestinians residing in refugee camps and different communities in Lebanon. The archive’s main focus is personal accounts surrounding the Nakba, which elucidate a defining moment in Palestinian history and collective experience. Furthermore, the collection contains life narratives of the pre-Nakba period, folk tales and songs, and stories of the women in Ein el-Helwe camp after its destruction in 1982.