Oral History

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Memoria Bizia

Collect | Preserve| Disseminate

Memoria Bizia - the Basque Diaspora Living Heritage Project

For the past years, we have witnessed how rapidly the last massive Basque migrant and exile generation, dispersed throughout the world, is unfortunately vanishing. "Memoria Bizia, the Basque Diaspora Living Heritage Project," has been designed with the goals of collecting, preserving and disseminating the Basque history of migration and exile through the personal oral testimonies of Basques who left their country of birth as well as their descendants born in the United States and Canada. The oral history interviews will be centralized into open-public repositories for long-term preservation as a resilient statement of Basque identity and culture for future generations.

Memoria Bizia is a community-based project. Consequently, we encourage Basque individuals, associations and communities become active participants in the project; not only through agreeing to be interviewed as a witness of a near past, but also by conducting interviews and helping to reconstruct the history of Basque migration and settlement. We want to empower them as active participants in history, rather than passive subjects. Their collaboration and active involvement in the project is paramount for the project's success.

Memoria Bizia is a project directed by Dr. Pedro J. Oiarzabal (Jon Bilbao Research Fellow on the Basque Diaspora at the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno) and funded by the North American Basque Organizations, the Basque Government, the Etxepare Basque Institute, and the University of Deusto.

Eusko Jaurlaritza

In collaboration with the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno (NV), the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries (NV), the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, Montreal (Quebec), the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Boise (ID), the Great Basin College, Elko (NV), the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at the Oklahoma State University, Stillwater (OK), the Toronto Ward Museum (Ontario), and the Walter W. Stiern Library at California State University, Bakersfield (CA).



How to get involved

1. Express your desire to participate in the project by hosting a training workshop, which could help to recruit interviewers, or by joining an already established working team in your nearby area.
2. As soon as the team is set up identify potential interviewees: the priority is to interview Basque elders born in the Basque Country, in the US or Canada or elsewhere who may live in your local area.
3. Conduct the interviews and video record them.
4. Summarize and index the interviews for their preservation into archival institutions.
5. Identify previously recorded interviews with Basques.

What's in it for you?

1. You will be part of the largest attempt to record the oral history of Basque migrants and exiles and their descendants.
2. You will be part of the largest network of volunteers ever assembled in the US and Canada with the urgent goal of collecting and preserving the direct testimonies of our elders. Basque associations and individuals from Montreal, Toronto, Bakersfield, Boise, Chino, New York, Elko, San Francisco, etc., are stepping forward to become part of the project. This is just the beginning.
3. Your time and dedication will contribute to increase the knowledge about the history of your community, making it more visible to both the North American and the Basque societies.
4. We hope that your involvement in the project will also be rewarding personally and it will enrich you.
5. Your club, if that's its desire, and you will be recognized by NABO for playing such an essential role in the project. Without your help there will not be a project.
6. From an academic point of view, if you are a college student or if you have already graduated, you will receive a certificate attesting to your participation in this international research project.

For more information on how to participate in the project, please contact Kate Camino at

Memoria bizia
Basque President Iñigo Urkullu highlights the Memoria Bizia project during his last official visit to the U.S. (Boise, Idaho, July 31, 2015).

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