Oral History Interview

Conduct an interview with a person or persons knowledgeable about your chosen subject matter. The interview should take about 45 minutes total, but you will only use select portions of the interview in your project. So, you want to have a clear idea going into the interview of the information you need to know. To do that, you need to know something! You should be well into your research on your subject BEFORE you set up the interview.

  • Once you have some knowledge of the subject, identify at least ONE person whom you might interview for further information.
  • Call to set up a time and place for the interview. Be sensitive to their requests, and try to accommodate them as much as possible on the time and location. Remember, they are doing you a favor.
  • Before you go, create a list of topics or issues you would like to discuss. These can be detail-oriented (fleshing out parts of the research from a human perspective, so “What was it like to. . .” “How much did you know about…” “how well did you know so-and-so…) or information gathering questions (“I’ve read a lot about x, but nobody seems to know y, do you know anything about that?”).
  • The list should be at least 10 items long, but BE FLEXIBLE. You may need more questions if they are not big talkers, or you may not get to all of your questions if they are. Be prepared to go with the flow.
  • Fill out the Oral History Consent Form [click the bold type to download] with the necessary details related to your project. Do this BEFORE you go.
  • Test your equipment and make sure you can use the microphone, know where it needs to be located to pick up good quality sound, can save as a .wav file, etc. All of those things we discussed with Sarah Mattingly. Email me if you have questions or problems.
  • On the day of the interview, dress appropriately, be courteous, bring your questions, your equipment, and something to take notes on.
  • Present the form to your interviewee before the interview and make sure they sign it by the end. Be certain that they indicate (with a check mark in the appropriate box) whether they are agreeing to provide the rights for this project only or the rights for archival use. Read the form, and you’ll know what I’m referring to.
  • Remember to introduce your interview with your name, the date, the name of the interviewee and the subject of the interview. Per our workshop, start with a question designed to put the subject at ease. Something related to your questions but open-ended and “easy.”
  • After the interview, thank the subject profusely for their time and assistance and promise you will share the results.
  • Identify a means of further communication (a phone or email address) so that you may keep them apprised of your progress on the project.
  • Send a thank you card after the interview (it’s just nice).
  • Send your interviewee a link to your project when it’s completed and do return any materials you promised to return in the agreement.

Materials to submitted for assessment:

You will write a brief reflective essay (2-3 pages) that synthesizes what you have learned during the interview and outlines how you plan to incorporate the interview into your larger project. You will submit this essay, along with a copy of the signed consent form, to Dr Takacs in class on 11/19. This means the interview must be completed before that date.

The interview and reflective essay will comprise 10% of your course grade (100 points)