Hand in Hand Productions

How to do an Oral History

This how-to section of our website is broken into parts — which can be found at the bottom of this page.

Oral Histories are simply the documentation of history in the oral tradition-the spoken word.

Oral histories are interviews that are recorded and preserved through audio, video, and/or in print documents.

Oral histories provide a narration of an individual's life experiences. Oral histories capture the individual's personal history for the private collection of a family, or an organization.

Conducting oral history interviews and producing oral histories documentation will create primary history documents that can be used for research, if placed in libraries. They contribute to the larger public history along with newspapers, other media, academic papers and books interpreting and analyzing history. An interview about a person's life becomes an oral history when it is recorded in a medium preserved or archived.

With technology innovations, oral histories may be recorded in video for DVDs, in audio for CD audio books, but the printed oral histories (paper documents) still have the most archival probability. Archiving an oral history is making sure that it is preserved for the future generations. Technology is constangly changing; the CD and DVD technologies are still evolving. Experts report that in 5 to 10 years we will have different formats for CD and DVD's, thus anything recorded on current formats may need to be transferred to the newer technology if they are to be preserved.

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Saint Paul, Minnesota

When we transcribe an audio or video interview verbatim, the spoken word becomes a print document to be preserved for hundreds of years. Since print documents have the most archival probability, we are providing you with the steps to do a print oral history.

Steps in doing an oral history

(Please choose a link below for further exploration each of these steps):

Step 1 - Preparation
Step 2 - Initial meeting with narrator
Step 3 - Research topics and period of the narrator's life
Step 4 - Developing a list of questions
Step 5 - Interview
Step 6 - Transcribing the interview verbatim
Step 7 - Review transcript and lightly edit for clarity
Step 8 - Narrator review
Step 9 - Scanning pictures and placing in the document
Step 10 - Printing/publishing the document to enjoy sharing your product with friends and family

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