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Oral History: Home

This guide was created for students in the History Department taking in classes in which they conduct oral histories.

What is Oral History?

  • Oral history recordings allow listeners to understand life experiences from various viewpoints, and when conducted and preserved properly, they can inform, instruct, and inspire future researchers.
  • Creating an oral history requires at least two people -- one who questions (interviewer) and one who narrates (interviewee). Interviewing allows for subjectivity and analysis from both parties.
  • Preserving the recorded interview is a priority for creating an oral history in the first place. Preservation begins with finding a safe repository for the recording(s), technology to make them useful and accessible, and the ability to share them with others in creative ways.

Oral History Best Practices

"Oral historians inform narrators about the nature and purpose of oral history interviewing in general and of their interview specifically. Oral historians insure that narrators voluntarily give their consent to be interviewed and understand that they can withdraw from the interview or refuse to answer a question at any time. Narrators may give this consent by signing a consent form or by recording an oral statement of consent prior to the interview. All interviews are conducted in accord with the stated aims and within the parameters of the consent." - Oral History Association