Oral history can be defined as the
recording, preservation and
interpretation of historical
information, based on the personal
experiences and opinions of the
We all have stories to tell, stories we have
lived from the inside out. We give our
experiences an order. We organize the
memories of our lives into stories.
Oral history listens to these stories.
Historians have finally recognized that
the everyday memories of everyday
people, not just the rich and
famous, have historical importance.
Oral histories are usually collected in the
form of interviews.
These interviews are then transcribed into
› Transcribe: to write, type, or print out (a text)
fully from a speech or notes
› Narrative: A narrated account; a story.
Oral histories are very reliable because the
source was actually “there” and so they
know first hand!
2. Oral histories may be reliable, although
additional research to verify the
interviewee‟s information would be
3. Oral histories are not reliable, after being
transcribed the information has gone
through too many people and cannot still
be valid (ie. The telephone game affect).
Have you ever interviewed someone?
Have you ever been interviewed?
What would your story be about?
The processes involved in recording an
oral history always begin with the same
step: deciding what it is you want to
What questions might we ask of each
What would you ask yourself?
Small numbers, and time constraints, limit
Choose a guiding question (what are
you hoping to find out?)
Prepare interview questions that you
would ask, were you conducting an
interview (have at least 15)
(I know – this is a stretch, use your imagination!)
Answer your questions – in point form
Transcribe your answers into a narrative
Voila! Your Oral History!
(Did you know you were so interesting?!)
If you are comfortable sharing your
history with the rest of the class, there will
be an option to do so on Thursday
Regardless of sharing, you must hand in:
› Your guiding question
› At least 15 „interview‟ questions and answers
› Your transcribed oral history
Once you have gone through the
process of recording your own oral
history, how do you feel about the
validity of oral histories? Has your opinion
changed at all? Why or why not?
Write a few sentences to reflect on these
› Do you have a guiding question? /1
› Do you have 15 interview questions? /1
› Have you answered your questions in point
form before transcribing your history? /1
› Does the final, transcribed version read like a
› Have you reflected on the validity of oral