Oral Traditions and Expressions

The oral traditions and expressions domain encompasses an enormous variety of spoken forms including proverbs, riddles, tales, nursery rhymes, legends, myths, charms, prayers, songs, dramatic performances and more. Oral traditions and expressions are used to pass on knowledge, cultural and social values and collective memory. They play a crucial part in keeping cultures alive.

Covid-19 NL Oral History Project
An oral history project about the experiences of living through a pandemic, collected as part of a partnership project between Heritage NL, The Rooms, and MUN Folklore and Language Archive. The “Covid-19 NL Oral History Project” invited Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living in the province or away to document their memories and thoughts about what was happening to them or in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020-2021.

Folk Belief
Newfoundland and Labrador is rich in folk belief, legends, traditional cures, superstitions, supernatural stories, ghost ships, and tales of the fairies. This collection presents some of these folk beliefs, beliefs not necessarily grounded in scientific fact, but which are or were accepted as truth by community members.

The Hiram Silk Collection
The Hiram Silk Collection is a set of field recordings from the early 1950s to the 1980s. These archival records feature interviews with Newfoundlanders, largely from Bonavista and Notre Dame bays, about life in the past. Hiram Silk was born in Grand Falls in 1929, son of Elfreda (Brown) and Thomas Silk. He was the winner of the O'Leary Newfoundland Poetry Award in 1951, and from the early 1950s up to his retirement in 1990, Silk worked as a radio broadcaster based out of Grand Falls, hosting such programs as "Looking Back" and "Sounds of Faith." The digitization of this collection was a partnership between the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society, who initiated the project and found the funding, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Memorial's Digital Archives Initiative.

Living Heritage
Living Heritage is a radio show and podcast partnership between CHMR and the Heritage Foundation's Intangible Cultural Heritage Office. Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep heritage alive at the community level. We talk about their work, their passions, and the day-to-day safeguarding of culture, history, and tradition.

Canada has an open immigration policy designed to attract new immigrants. Many come from the former Socialist block, creating new diaspora communities. These communities gradually grow, forming a significant part of the Canadian population. This project focuses on diaspora groups established by recent immigrants to Canada from the former socialist block. It concentrates on the ways newcomers respond and contribute to their new locations, creating a new sense of belonging and identity. A particular focus is placed on the ways that new immigrants selectively maintain or abandon their European beliefs and practices, while simultaneously absorbing the values and ideas of Canadian society.

Oral History
Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of the speaker, based on their personal experiences and opinions. It may take the form of eyewitness evidence about the past, but can include folklore, myths, songs and stories passed down over the years by word of mouth. Oral history is an invaluable method of preserving the knowledge and understanding of people, communities, and participants in past events.

It strives to obtain information from different perspectives, some of which cannot be found in written sources. Oral history can be a subjective and personal form of evidence, but this is also one of its great strengths. An oral history interview generally consists of a well-prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee or "informant" and recording their exchange in audio or video format.

Through most of Newfoundland and Labrador history, artists expressed themselves primarily through the folk arts, much of it transmitted orally from one generation to another. This collection includes material related to storytelling, recitations, songs and ballads, folktales, sayings, or chants. Much of this artistic material was locally composed, but performances could be drawn either from an older traditional repertory or learned more recently, sometimes from printed sources. The collection also includes recordings on contemporary and applied storytelling.