Hand in Hand Productions

How to do an Oral History

Step 5 - Interview

Always, before an interview appointment set up all of your equipment and check to be sure that you remember how to use it and that it is working properly.

Make the narrator as comfortable as possible. You will want to monitor the sound levels throughout the interview. Open every interview with a statement similar to this:

Today is March 3, 2005. We are at Mr. Finney's office in at 101 East Tenth Street, Saint Paul Minnesota, doing an oral history interview. Would you please introduce yourself and spell your name.

A good interviewer is attentive and curious about the person and discussion being shared. Use questions to prompt the conversation and clarify information or time periods.

If you are using audio tapes after the interview poke out the plastic tabs on the top of the cassette to prevent accidental over recording. Then immediately label the audio tape with the (1) narrator's name, (2) project name (if any), (3) date, (4) number of tapes in interview, and (5) name of interviewer. Mark your original master.

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Example audio tape label:

The original tape should be duplicated and labeled. Use the duplicate for transcribing.

Next step: 6 - Transcribing the interview verbatim

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