Fran Leeper Buss, a former welfare recipient who earned a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Arizona, has become a pioneer in the field of oral history. She has for forty years dedicated herself to the goal of collecting the stories of marginal and working-class U.S. women. "Memory, Meaning, and Resistance" is based on over 100 oral histories gathered from women from a variety of racial, ethnic and geographical backgrounds, including a traditional Mexican American midwife, a Latina poet and organizer for the United Farm Workers and an African American union and freedom movement organizer. Buss now analyzes this body of work, identifying common themes in women’s lives and resistance that unite the oral histories she has gathered.
From the beginning, her work has shed light on the inseparable, compounding effects of gender, race, ethnicity and class on women’s lives--what is now commonly called intersectionality. "Memory, Meaning, and Resistance" is structured thematically, with each chapter analyzing a concept that runs through the oral histories, e.g., agency, activism and religion. The result is a testament to women’s individual and collective strength, and an invaluable guide for students and researchers, on how to effectively and sensitively conduct oral histories that observe, record, recount and analyze women’s life stories.
Buss has published four oral histories and a novel, "Journey of the Sparrows." The original transcripts of her oral history interviews are housed at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.