Textual analysis of retired nurses' oral histories

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This paper considers the use of textual analysis of oral histories as a method for historians of nursing. Fifty-three oral histories of retired nurses in midwestern USA were analyzed for the purpose of historical reconstruction of past education experiences in nursing. Textual analysis was used to determine how nurses made sense of their educational experiences, and it involved gathering data, analyzing the information, and using a different method of interpreting the data. Although the participants responded to specific questions, the oral histories in this study are more than mere answers to the researchers' queries. The participants' memories are narratives that are the joint product of both the historian and the participant. As such, the oral history becomes a text to be stored along with other primary sources for future historians' use. The research also suggests decentering oral histories from an exclusively academic agenda and focusing more on what the participants choose to remember and why they make those choices.

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