There are many stages to an oral history project, from pre-production, production, and post-production workflows to gathering documentation to support the preservation of and access to an oral history collection.
Identify aims and objectives, number of interviews, and project timeline.
Identify who they are are, how to connect with them, and how to ensure a cross-section of voices.
Find an appropriate repository whose collecting mission aligns with the aims of your project.
Secure audio recording and editing equipment.
Complete background research, treatment (interview guide), and slate of questions.
Narrator and interviewer complete an informed consent form, which should outline the project's aims and objectives.
At the end of every recording session, complete an interview information form to inform accessioning.
Back up audio files (wav) and create access copies (mp3).
Provide the narrator the opportunity to review the transcript. Make corrections. Redact if needed (make a redacted version of the audio file by muting sections). Save the new version with a different filename.
Document any redactions or closures in an editorial note in the transcript. Secure the deed of gift, upon approval of the transcript and recording, from the narrator.
Organize your collection for processing, cataloguing, and access. Include copies of signed informed consent form and deed of gift form, audio files (wav), interview information form, edited transcripts, slate of questions, treatment, oral history metadata submission form, and any photographs or other supporting documentation, such as correspondence with the narrator.
Complete an end of project report, evaluation, and celebration. Send notes of thanks to narrator(s).
The workflow for completing an oral history project will entail preliminary research, the design of a treatment (interview guide), a slate of questions, and the interview process itself.
Preliminary research may include a literature search, preparing a biographical file of the narrator, contacting the narrator to define the scope and purpose of the project, and arranging for an interview.
Create an outline of major topics you wish to cover during the interview.
Frisch’s principle of shared historical authority is predicated on the premise that public history spaces (cultural heritage institutions such as museums and archives) should center collaboration between researchers and participants. Shared historical authority is deeply-rooted in the collaborative nature of oral history interviews. It implies cultivating and maintaining relationships grounded in trust, respect, and shared decision-making.
Think of narrators as partners.
These style guidelines were compiled by Rebecca Boger, Project Assistant for the Civil Rights Greensboro Digital Archive, in 2008. Boger incorporated style guides from the Baylor University Institute for Oral History, the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, and the Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Office.
Consult a standard style manual like the Chicago Manual of Style or the APA Manual.
Include the following elements in your transcript:
Title: Interview with [Name of Narrator]
Name of narrator
Name of interviewer
Name of videographer
Number of sessions
Length of interview
Place of interview
Date of interview
Language of interview
Interviewee’s Biographical Details
See Concordia University, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, for an example of an oral history transcript