Conducting An Oral History Interview


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Conducting An Oral History Interview

  1. 1. Conducting an Oral History Interview<br />
  2. 2. Equipment You Will Need<br />Digital Video Camera<br />Buy the highest resolution with the largest optical zoom you can afford.<br />Tripod<br />Most tripods are standard and should fit any video camera you purchase.<br />Lights (optional)<br />Work lights from Home Depot or Lowe’s work well.<br />
  3. 3. Contacting the Interviewee<br />Contact the interviewee prior to the interview to schedule a time and location for the interview.<br />Allow extra interviewing time for setting up & taking down interview equipment.<br />Put the interviewee’s mind at ease by telling them what to expect.<br />
  4. 4. Preparing an Interview Location<br />Look for a quiet place (i.e. no TV, phones, animals, loud air conditioning, etc.)<br />Choose a neutral backdrop that won’t distract the viewer.<br />Set up your camera & tripod.<br />Frame the interviewee in a close up shot from roughly the chest up while leaving some background room around the interviewee. This allows the interviewee to move slightly without having to readjust the camera during the interview.<br />
  5. 5. Conducting an Oral History<br />Know what questions to ask and what topics you want to cover before you begin.<br />Be flexible with your questions.<br />Begin each interview with an introduction of interviewer & interviewee, date, & purpose of interview.<br />
  6. 6. During the Interview<br />Listen actively and intently. <br />Speak one at a time. <br />Allow silence. Give the interviewee time to think.<br />Be aware of and sensitive to the psychological forces at work during the interview. <br />Ask one question at a time. <br />Follow up your current question thoroughly before moving to the next. <br />Usually ask questions open enough to get &quot;essay&quot; answers unless you are looking for specific short-answer &quot;facts.&quot; <br />Start with less probing questions. <br />Ask more probing questions later in the interview. <br />Wrap up the interview with lighter talk. Do not drop the interviewee abruptly after an intense interview.<br />Limit interviews to about one to two hours in length, depending on the fatigue levels of you and your interviewee. <br />
  7. 7. After the Interview<br />Thank the interviewee.<br />Immediately photograph or copy any additional materials to include (i.e. photographs, objects, letters) and return immediately.<br />Label and number all recordings immediately. <br />Have the interviewee sign the release form before you leave. <br />Have a system to label and file everything. Do it. <br />Copy each interview tape. Store the original in a separate place and use only the duplicate. <br />Go back for another interview if necessary. <br />If you decide to, give the interviewee a copy of the recording or transcript. Ask for transcript corrections and a release form. <br />Make provisions for long-term storage of materials.<br />
  8. 8. Editing the Interview Tape<br />Free software () will perform basic editing techniques<br />Create multiple back-up copies of each interview and store in a safe place.<br />
  9. 9. Adding Interview to Digital Library<br /> If you would like to submit your interview to the James G. Gee library to be included within the Digital Library of Texas A&M University-Commerce, send us:<br />Edited digital copy of interview<br />Signed release forms for interviewer & interviewee<br />
  10. 10. Obtaining a Release Form<br />To obtain a release form, contact:<br />Glenn Gainer<br /> (903) 886-5737<br /><br />Jim Conrad<br /> (903) 886-5737<br /><br />
  11. 11. Resources<br />Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History<br />How to Conduct an Oral History Interview<br />
  12. 12. Contact<br />Glenn Gainer<br />Oral Historian<br />James G. Gee Library<br />Texas A&M University-Commerce<br />(903) 886-5737<br /><br />