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Testimonies in Historiography and Oral History

Saupe, Achim; Roche, Helen


Achim Saupe


Sara Jones

Roger Woods


This chapter gives an overview of the ways in which testimony has been used by historians, and the ways in which it has influenced the development of new historiographical methods. Above all, the authors explore the different contextual frameworks within which testimonies have developed—legal, moral, and practical. What makes a testimony ‘true’ or ‘trustworthy’ in the eyes of the observer? Do victims’ testimonies possess more ‘moral authenticity’ than those of perpetrators? Is the eyewitness by nature ‘the enemy of the historian’? In particular, the rise of oral history during the latter half of the twentieth century has led to a new appreciation of the value—and potential challenges—involved in working with testimonies narrated by witnesses who were alive during the historical events which they are narrating.

Online Publication Date Apr 20, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Nov 24, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 21, 2025
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 65-90
Book Title The Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Culture
ISBN 9783031137938
Public URL