I. ORAL HISTORY GUIDES
These sites contain general information on “How To” conduct oral histories.
Gathering the Forgotten Voices: An Approach to Oral History
This site provides practical advise for conducting your oral histories.
The Immigrant Experience
This site provides you with basic information on conducting oral histories with immigrants. Worth looking through to get a sense of types of questions that may be relevant for documenting a migrant’s journey to the U.S. The page on TIPS is useful for avoiding common mistakes that can affect the overall quality of your interview.
Southern Oral History Program (SOHP)
“How To: Resources for Planning and Conducting Oral History Interviews,” includes The SOHP Guidebook, SOHP Interview forms, and a bibliography of more than 50 oral history resources. The interview forms include a cover sheet, interview agreement, interview agreement with restrictions, life history form, and proper word form. The SOHP Guidebook includes guidelines on designing an oral history project; advice on conducting, cataloguing, and transcribing interviews; notes on budgets and equipment needs; and ten interviewing tips.
Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History
Developed by historian and educator Judith Moyer, this thorough guide to oral history offers suggestions and strategies for collecting and preserving oral history. Topics range from an explanation of how and why to collect oral history to guidelines for planning and conducting an interview, including initial research, locating individuals, choosing equipment, and asking productive questions. Moyer also addresses a number of important conceptual and ethical issues related to conducting and using oral histories, including questions of accuracy, the limits of oral history, strategies for overcoming specific interview problems, and twenty questions to help interviewers learn from their experience.
II. ORAL HISTORY SITES
These sites contain great examples of oral history transcripts. Some sites contain audio and visual images. In surveying the sites, consider how the interview takes shape, the types of questions asked, and the form of the transcript itself. It is intersting to think about the inclusion and exclusion of audio and visual materials. While the transcript provides the voice of the interviewee, it does not render the intonation of the person’s voice nor can it capture the image of the person as they are in real life.
American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
This site features approximately 2,900 life histories, both in transcribed and image form, collected from 1936-1940. The documents represent the work of more than 300 writers from the Federal Writers’ Project of the U.S. Work Projects Administration. The histories appear as drafts and revisions, in various formats, from narrative to dialogue, report to case history. Topics include the informant’s family, education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, and diet, as well as observations on society and culture. Interviewers often substituted pseudonyms for names of individuals and places.
Archives of American Art, Oral History Collections
This site offers transcriptions of more than 180 interviews with a variety of artists, including Louise Nevelson, Robert Indiana, Richard Diebenkorn, and Rube Goldberg. Projects include Texas and southwestern artists, Northwest artists, Latino artists, African-American artists, Asian-American artists, and women in the arts in Southern California. This site also include transcripts for more than 50 of the 400 interviews conducted in the 1960s as part of the “New Deal and the Arts Oral History Program.”
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938
A collaborative effort of the Manuscripts and Prints and Photographs Divisions, this site has more than 2,300 first person accounts of slavery. The narratives were collected as part of the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Project Administration, and they were assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Each digitized transcript of a slave narrative is accompanied by notes including the name of the narrator, place and date of the interview, interviewer’s name, length of transcript, and cataloging information.
Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World
This site relies on hundreds of interviews with working-class southerners conducted by the Southern Oral History Program Piedmont Industrialization Project of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The site combines those sources with materials drawn from the trade press and with workers’ letters to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to craft a rich account of cotton mill life, work, and protest. There are approximately 70 audio clips of interviews with mill workers ranging in length from 15 seconds to more than eight minutes.
Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II
These oral history interviews record the memories of men and women who served overseas and on the homefront during World War II. The archive contains more than 160 full-text interviews, primarily of Rutgers College alumni and Douglass College (formerly New Jersey College for Women) alumnae. Rutgers undergraduates conducted many of the interviews. The easily navigable site provides an alphabetical interview list with the name of each interviewee, date and place of interview, college of affiliation and class year, theater in which the interviewee served, and branch of service, when applicable. The list also provides “Description” codes that indicate the nature of the interview contents, including military occupations (such as infantry and artillery members, nurses, navy seamen, and engineer corps) and civilian occupations (such as air raid warden, student, clerical worker, and journalist).
Women in Journalism
This site provides access to 41 of 57 full-life interviews of American women journalists for three professional generations: pre-1942, World War II through 1964, and post-1964. The collection includes interviews with women who began their careers in the 1920s and continues to the present day. Print, radio, and television journalism are all represented. Interviews address difficulties women have encountered entering the profession and how their growing presence has changed the field. Interviews range from one to 12 sessions and each session is about 20 pages long. The interviews are indexed but are not searchable by subject.
The Immigrant Archive Project
The Immigrant Archive Project is an independent national initiative dedicated to preserving the life stories of America’s immigrant population. They accomplish this by recording, in their own words, the intimate stories of immigrants of all nations. The content of these interviews will be shared with listeners via radio, television, internet, and traveling educational as well as art installations. The website provides video excerpts of Latin American migrants speaking about their experiences and serves as a great example for including this media into your oral history projects.
III. OTHER COOL RESOURCES AND SAMPLES
These sites provide innovative ideas for your oral history projects.
Center for Digital Storytelling
A non-profit project development dedicated to assisting people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives. Their focus is on developing large-scale projects for community, educational and business institutions. http://www.storycenter.org/
A digital storytelling resource site –http://www.digitales.us/
Digital Clubhouse Network
A community based story-telling project that is looking for individuals from all age groups and walks of life to share their stories. They offer all of the tools for free to those who what to participate in the community. http://www.digiclub.org/ Sample segment – Cesar Chavez Story http://www.digiclub.org/movies/player/CesarChavez.html
Telling their stories: Oral history archives project
This site contains a collection of digital interviews conducted by high school students. http://www.tellingstories.org/
A non-profit organization that assists individuals with the development of short oral histories. Copies of all StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. http://storycorps.org/ A sample story can be viewed at: http://storycorps.org/animation/the-icing-on-the-cake/
Latino Virtual Gallery – http://latino.si.edu/virtualgallery/LVGhome.html
Adobe Acrobat 9 – product allows students to collect audio, video and still images into a portable collection that can be posted to a course or web site.
Photostory by microsoft – easy to use free software download from Microsoft. Works on PCs only. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx
Voicethread – “A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish. ” The company provides a limited free version and fee based professional version (~$60.00 a year) http://voicethread.com/ Example of how to use VoiceThread for teaching http://voicethread.com/#q.b3352.i28616
Xtranormal – allows users to quickly make text-to- movie modules – software can be downloaded for PC users and used through a web interface for MAC users. Site provides a limited free version and a tiered fee structure for the use of selected characters and backdrops. http://www.xtranormal.com/ Sample movie can be viewed at http://www.xtranormal.com/watchmovies/