Martor No. 27 / Year 2022

Recording One’s Own Oral Culture: A Case Study of Locals’ Notebooks

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West University of Timișoara, Romania

Pages: 67-80


Private notebooks; micro monographs; folklore archives; insider’s perspective; interwar Romania.


Interest towards communities characterized by oral tradition has taken the form of ethnological and/or anthropological field research on this topic over the past two centuries. With the invention of the tape recorder, the difficulty of recording field information was reduced as it enabled real-time recording of testimonies provided by informants; the process became even more accessible once digital information storage became available. In parallel with the efforts of the researcher—outsider—to document realities considered relevant for the culture of traditional societies, some of the insiders became aware of the need to write down such information, which they recognized to be defining for their own social group. This article thus focuses on a particular practice in writing down ethnographic information, namely the existence of notebooks in which oral texts of different types and with different functions are recorded. To build the argument, I draw on the example of such notebooks held by the Folklore Archive of the West University of Timișoara, namely five manuscripts signed by Gheorghe Andraș, a teacher from Sânnicolau Mare, a small town in western Romania. Written in the first half of the twentieth century, these notebooks are statements of the inner calling their author felt to write down this type of ethnographic information, under the influence of national policies supporting ethnographic field research.    

How to cite this article:

Mihuț, Diana. 2022. “Recording One’s Own Oral Culture: A Case Study of Locals’ Notebooks.” Martor 27: 67-80. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2022.27.05]

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