A. R. Roberts, Secretary THE ACADEMY OF ACCOUNTING HISTORIANS
ELECTRONIC METHODOLOGY: ACCOUNTING ORAL AND VISUAL HISTORY
The Committee on Accounting History report (Supp. to Vol. XLV, Accounting Review, 1970) expressed the opinion that "there has been a dearth of . . . necessary preliminary gathering of data, . . which would facilitate and encourage research and writing in the area of accounting history. Source data, for purposes of historical study, is normally perceived to be in the form of books or other formal publications. However, the gathering of data today should not be limited to these materials alone. Electronic devices enable today's historian to gather and preserve unique event data which should become historically significant.
As early as 1938, Allan Nevins, the late Columbia University his-torian, advocated and put into practice the concept of oral history. Oral history is generally considered to be a systematic interview with someone knowledgeable in the area under study. Much oral accounting history already exists in the form of recorded transcripts of minutes, meetings and interviews. Now, however, electronic tech-nology has permitted the expansion of this area of historical re-search by the use of visual recording through film, and video tape techniques. At least one major university maintains filmed inter-views with important accounting personalities as a resource for potential historical study.
The concept of electronic history is widely used in many fields. The Oral History Association, for example, found recently that over 200 projects were operating throughout the U.S. with more being planned. In the last year Columbia University has published a 500 page catalogue of their oral history collection.
Many significant studies and books have been published which have as their primary source of data oral history. Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, which was published this year, is an outstanding example. Still, professional historians are divided as to the value of "electronic" history. Some feel that it is a source of unique information and vivid expression. Others feel that such