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How to do an Oral History

Step 3 - Researching topics and period of the narrator's life

Your interview will be stronger if you are familiar with historical context, culture, career background knowledge of the narrator's life.

For example:

  • If the narrator was a nurse in the Vietnam War do a bit of reading about that period, and the responsibilities of war nurses at that time.
  • If the narrator was a rancher or farmer read about what this life is like and research the economic conditions during the years they were on the land.
  • If the narrator went through a bankruptcy procedure, learn about what this means to a person's life.
  • If they have parented children you might want to go into the interview with a list of the children's names and dates of birth and/or ages.

Researching through reading, gathering background information, talking to other family members will support you in doing a stronger interview.

Next step: 4 - Developing a list of questions

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