Historical Subjects

Throughout history stories of people’s lives have been told. History has been carried throughout time through oral traditions through things like songs, and stories that were later to be written down and turned into history as we know it to be today. All we need to do to find history these days is Google a certain topic or figure. However, each piece of history holds the life of a person whose lives, secrets, misfortunes, triumphs, are laid bare for a person in the future to pick up that life through textbook, news article, diary, or even an article of clothing. This takes us to the questions “How do issues of privacy affect historical research? What information should historians be privy to?” .

One thing that I got from the article from the writer, Sherrie Tucker’s article was the fact that she was extremely conscious of the fact she could not outright assume that her interviewees were lesbian women, even though she felt she had all the signs that the women were simply lesbians of discretion. This kind of answers the question of how issues of privacy affects historical research. She knows she can’t just assume things and out these women in her research, but I think this also allows a bit of a solution to the problem of how a historian can conduct historical research in a way that respects their subjects. She wanted to examine these women as her tests subjects, but she as also allowed their experiences with sexuality to be their own stories to tell in their own time. Here, she really emphasized the importance of allowing people to tell their own stories that eventually become part of history. As she mentions in her article, “Dozens of narrators shared unspeakable information with me via third-party betrayals and then asked me not to use it. I am left with the diametrically op-posed option s of silence or betrayal as well, neither of which seems ethical or feminist. I can conceal or out nontraditional women musicians. Is there another option? ls there a way to reveal, partially and strategically, what narrators taught me through betrayals and silences without spilling their secrets? This is what 1 am trying to do.” (Tucker, 303) Here she sees the difficulty in hearing so many of these women’s stories, and comes to fork in the road when she tries to figure out ways to tell the stories of these female musicians from the 30’s and 40’s without betraying their trust. 

I can connect my own project to this because the foundation of my project is going to be sourced from the stories of hundreds of men and women of color, many of whom had their own stories written for them without their consent. This really forces me to look at how I go about my project in the future. This article really highlights the importance of being aware of the stories you’re telling about people’s lives, and to not betray their truths because it looks good on paper.