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Oral History Research Guide: Conduct Oral History Interviews

A compilation of resources on what oral history is, how to do oral history, and how to locate oral history interviews.

Why We Do Oral History

Many researchers and members of the public choose to conduct their own oral history interviews. While the reasons for this vary from genealogical to research purposes, those who do oral history recognize its significance in contributing to the historical record. This brief video from the Minnesota Historical Society explains the importance of conducting oral history interviews.

Minnesota Historical Society. (c. 2010). Why Do Oral History? Retrieved from http://education.mnhs.org/immigration/podcasts/1-why-do-oral-history.

Print Resources for Conducting Oral History Interviews

The print resources listed below provide more in-depth information than online resources on how to plan, conduct, and store oral history interviews.

How to Choose Oral History Equipment

Selecting the right oral history recording and transcription equipment can be difficult, but the resources below recommend affordable, reliable options for conducting and transcribing oral history interviews.

Transcribing Oral Histories

After conducting oral history interviews, many oral historians choose to transcribe the audio in order to increase accessibility and ensure ADA compliance. The guides listed below detail how to transcribe the spoken word into written text. For information on transcription equipment, refer to the "How to Choose Oral History Equipment" section above.

How To Conduct an Oral History Interview

This short video by the York Region District School Board provides a useful overview of how to conduct an oral history interview. 

York Region District School Board. (2014). Conducting an Oral History Interview. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj_8gNZ0QJ66wWMcA6A84mA.

More Online Resources for Conducting Oral History Interviews

There are many digital materials dedicated to the topic of conducting oral history interviews. This list represents only a handful of them. Some resources provide simple, basic advice on how to conduct a single interviews, while others offer more in-depth advice on equipment selection, interview planning, and what to do with the interviews once you're done. 

Release Forms and Legal Information

According to the Oral History Association, "oral historians have an ethical obligation...to ensure that the narrator's perspective, dignity, privacy, and safety are respected." The resources listed below provide additional information on understanding these ethical obligations including the topics of informed consent, crafting legal release forms, copyright, and protecting restricted interviews.

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. Resources. Retrieved from http://libraries.uky.edu/libpage.php?lweb_id=11&llib_id=13&ltab_id=1369.