The importance of memory points in oral history

Have you done oral history and do not know what “memory points” are?

Maybe you have used “memory points” and you have not even noticed?

Well, I’ll say yes and I assure you it’s not another world.


The truth is that even I did not know that there were “memory points” until I read the article Points and poetics of memory: (Retrospective) justice in oral history interviews of former internees, which was published in the journal Memories Studies in 2018, and that of course is in English… But in order to not break your head I will tell you in a simple way what they are.

The “memory points” are nothing else than the tests that the person you are listening to teach and can be from a photo, a legal document, a letter, a place, an object with symbolic value, an audio, a video , even a date.

However, Savolainen (2018) was not the first to use this definition, but Marianna Hirsch and Leo Spitzer (20016) also used it to explain that the description and analysis of the testimonial objects collected in their research helped to link the past with the present.

But don’t worry, maybe you knew this as “memory sites”, and if you did not know either, relax for that I am sharing this information with you.

Now you know what it is called that you normally name tests. Have you ever thought about how important they are? If the first thing you thought is that they are to show if the person is telling the truth, you are correct, because Savolainen (2018) explains that they serve to unite the memories and contribute information to the study to enrich it.

However, we must also take into account that this will help you to connect the narrative with the context that was lived, in the time in which the story you are rescuing passes, and thus not have to walk guessing in which part of the line of time you locate.

If you have come this far, it is because you have found this information interesting, leave your comment here, #ShareKnowledge with your colleagues and tell them that what they have been doing has a name and is called “memory points”.


Marianne Hirsch, Leo Spitzer; Testimonial Objects: Memory, Gender, and Transmission. Poetics Today1 June 2006; 27 (2): 353–383. doi:

Savolainen, U. (2018). Points and poetics of memory: (Retrospective) justice in oral history interviews of former internees. Memory Studies.

Jazmin Blancas, twitter: @hadaJazmine
Andrea Abonce, twitter: @andrea_abonce
Montserrat Gama, twitter: @ vaiviadame2
Elda Tello, twitter: @eldatellov
Patricia Marín, twitter: @mr_patricia
Alejandro Herrera, twitter: @HerreraAlejando

Alejandro Herrera, twitter: @HerreraAlejando.