"U Stories: Oral History and Urban Experiences" is an archive of in-depth interviews collected through various research projects implemented at the Center for Urban History. The purpose of this collection is to maintain and make available to researchers and all interested individuals the memoirs and reflections of Lviv’s inhabitants, as well as to expand the use of such sources in the study of the urban history of Lviv and other cities in the region. To that end, the project aims to create a digital resource for people who are interested in different aspects of everyday life in the city and who work with oral history and information obtained from in-depth interviews.

Oral history is often called the "voice from the past" because through this history it is possible to hear the voice of an era and understand its resonance at the level of everyday life. Through eyewitness accounts we cannot only reconstruct a picture of the past but also obtain a more "live" and "extensive" story. They help us to identify the ways, contours, and characteristics of the spread of "collective representations" of what was once and show how an event was experienced and whether it was experienced at all.

Using in-depth interviews and oral history in research helps us to understand and describe how communities and individuals create and maintain their own vision of the past, come to a consensus, talk about ambiguity, and smooth out the rough edges, as well as how they support the social and individual identity.

This project is an attempt to show and see the city through the experience of some of its inhabitants. It is through people that institutions and organizations as well as the urban landscape and its subtle changes "talk"; they are the ones responsible for crucial policy decisions and economic experiments, changes in borders and systems, different discursive frameworks and "regimes of truth," dominant and counternarratives, which creates a unique story of a unique individual. Such subjective and individual testimonies are extremely valuable additions to various, primarily archival, sources for studying both the past and the modern city.

The project "U Stories: Oral History and Urban Experiences" is a continuation and extension of research that has already been done at the Center and that will be undertaken in the future. "U Stories" includes materials from the following projects:

  • "Lviv in the 20th Century: The History of One Street" researched the history of Bohomoltsia Street (formerly Asnyka and Pergengasse Street), founded in the early 20th century, through the prism of individual stories of current residents and combined them with materials about the history of each building. The project manager was Halyna Bodnar. Research on the history of architecture of the street was done ​​by Ihor Zhuk and Khrystyna Kharchuk.
  • "Kastelivka: Buildings and Residents" shows the personal stories of current residents of one of the most famous villa districts in Lviv. This oral history project was carried out by Halyna Bodnar. The project is combined with Ihor Zhuk’s study of the development of this prestigious part of the city, which began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • "Searching for Home' in Postwar Lviv: The Experience of Pidzamche, 1944-1960" collected personal experiences of the current inhabitants of the old industrial district of the city, which was part of the ghetto during World War II. The project coordinator was Andriy Bondarenko.
  • "Cinemas and Cinema Clubs in Lviv" is an oral history research project on Lviv’s cinema landscape and the environment of "cinema clubs." In addition to the collection of interviews, the project also included the study of the operation of the system of cinemas. The interviews were collected by Oksana Lepak and Natalia Otrishchenko, and the historical research was done by Oksana Lepak.
  • "The City of Art and Urban Art: Theaters in Lviv Since 1945" is a project devoted to revealing the characteristics of theatrical life in Lviv through the prism of the stories of its creators and participants. Maria Antoniuk and Natalia Otrishchenko spoke with representatives of the creative, administrative, and technical staff of the theaters, and Maria Antoniuk collected visual materials.
  • "The Creative Community of Lviv" is a project aimed at studying the impact of surroundings, space, and contexts on the production and use of knowledge and on displays of creativity during the 1970s and 1980s, with a focus on social communities, in particular "get-togethers." The project manager is Bohdan Shumylovych. Interviews were collected by Natalia Otrishchenko and Bohdan Shumylovych.

We want to provide access to interviews to anyone who is interested in the research and make the Center for Urban History’s archival collection a heritage for the academic community as well as the wider public. We understand the value of our informants’ stories and would like them to be heard, but we also want to protect their privacy. Therefore, to gain access to the interviews, the researcher must read the relevant rules governing the confidentiality of information and sign an informed consent. More information about the project will be available from December 2013.

Project Manager – Natalia Otrishchenko.

If you have any questions or comments about the project, please contact Natalia Otrishchenko by e-mail n.otrishchenko@lvivcenter.org.