Oral History Interviews

In 1973, an oral history project was initiated in ISEAS as a means to generate primary source materials for scholarly uses. The subject of interest at that time was local history of the Japanese Occupation period and the immediate post-war Singapore. Subsequently, the scope of the interviews expanded to cover autobiographical memoirs of prominent personalities who were highly regarded in their respective fields such as business, education, and politics. Due to limited resources, the oral history programme became dormant after 1997. In early 2015, as part of its collection building efforts, the Library revived the programme on a smaller scale, thematically aligned with ISEAS’ current research direction.

Oral history interviews on Myanmar’s post-independence political development

With the help of ISEAS’s former Senior Visiting Fellow U Ye Htut, the Library has been building up a collection of oral history interviews since 2017, with 14 individuals to date who have given oral narratives, covering a wide range of subjects documenting not only their personal life experiences but also their involvement in various aspects of social and political development of post-war Myanmar and its nation building path.

These interviews comprise more than 70 hours of audio recordings, with 795 pages of transcripts in Burmese already completed for 6 of the interviews. Of the 14 interviews in this collection, 12 are available for immediate access by scholars and academics studying and writing about modern Myanmar history. Two interviews are embargoed until 31 Dec 2022. The metadata of these open access interviews may be viewed on-site, via Library’s SEALionPLUS database.

Interested researchers may enquire with ISEAS Library (iseaslib@iseas.edu.sg) for more details and access to the available interviews. A short introduction to each of the interviewees is available below.