Paul J. P. Sandul
Assistant Professor of History
Stephen F. Austin State University
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Oral History is a term that
conjures up many images
and ideas
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A conversation
A historical source
Oral History Paradox?:
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It is of such obvious and selfevident importance few have
sought to define exactly why
it is so.
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Oral History has its own history,
development, and unique issues
Oral History Association:
www.oralhistory.org
 H-Oral History: www.hnet.org/~oralhist/
 Texas Oral History Association:
www.baylor.edu/toha
 Baylor University, Institute for Oral
History:
www.baylor.edu/oral_history
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Oral History is as old
as history itself!
Story tellers
Ancient Historians &
histories
Oral Histories were
highly valued
Modern examples
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Attempts to professionalize the craft
Rules and guidelines to overcome issues of
memory and bias
Rules and guidelines to articulate
responsibilities
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Equipment concerns
Interview strategies
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Professional / Academic
History’s challenge to Oral
History
Leopold von Ranke (mid-19th
century)
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Favors written documents
Favors archives
Favors Political
Favors “great men” and “great
classes”
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Social Movements of the 1960s
and 1970s
Give voice to the marginalized
and neglected
Give voice to non-elite
extremists?
Give voice to the family
Discover relationships
Enhance military, farm, rural,
urban, and local histories
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Transcription = imposing literary grammar
rules and form on the spoken audible word
Costs: equipment and transcription labor
Oral history as:
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A) one among many types of sources
B) as a unique historical source
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Is factual historical recall even
possible?
Transcripts = memory of
memory?
Interviewees and
interviewers are bias?
Oral history as much about
discovering meaning as
factual details?
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Oral History is
democratic!
Oral History as a device of
change
Oral History as a tool for
community building,
therapy, and selfunderstanding
Oral History in the Public:

Wilson Project online:
http://www.sfasu.edu/heri
tagecenter/5318.asp
Things to Cover in Detail:
Equipment
2. Projects, Interviewing, and Question
Development
Preserving Oral Histories and Transcription
4. Q & A
1.
3.
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Some useful websites and tips:
 Baylor:
http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/66424.pdf
 Baylor also has a good glossary of digital technology terms to help you
know what some of the technology jargon means:
http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/79809.pdf
Oral History in the Digital Age: www.ohda/matrix.msu.edu
 The Audio Field Recording Equipment Guide:
www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/archive/res_audioequip_retired.sht
ml
 H-Oralhist furnishes a searchable archive of topics, including
equipment: www2.h-net.msu.edu/~oralhist
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Get a digital, not tape, recorder
Lightweight
Can record in either MP3 or WAV
Can record at least at 120KPS
Has a external light letting you know the power is on
Has a screen that lets you know how much memory is left
Can use both batteries and a power cord
Has internal/eternal memory card that can somehow enable
transfer to a computer
 External cards are easiest to transfer, but can get expensive;
 Internal memory cards only require a USB cord, but those can
get lost easily and memory capacity can be limited (usually up
to ten hours though—and that’s a lot)
Get a condenser microphone, not dynamic. Most digital recorders
today have excellent internal microphones
Always use a tripod!
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Be aware of lighting (shadows) and background (i.e., bright colors and windows)
Media: Recording Systems
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Four types: MiniDV tapes, removable MiniDVDs, hard disk drives, and flash memory cards.
MiniDV tape
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Pros: compact; affordable; can preserve original quality without compression; good editing software.
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Cons: have to use camcorder for playback; winding/rewinding tape eventually degrades quality; need to
transfer images to computer with large hard drive for editing.
DVDs
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Pros: random access to any clip; easier editing in-camera or on computer; rapid duplication of discs for
sharing; convenient playback on computer, DVD players, even PlayStations.
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Cons: recording time limited to 1 hour with single-sided discs, two hours with dual layer; images are
compressed when stored to disc and quality is affected; some discs allow only 1 use, others rewritable.
Internal hard drives
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Pros: capacities up to 60GB, internal drives can hold 28 hours of video, far more than other formats; 1button burning of DVDs for easy sharing, transfer, playback; in-camera or in-computer editing.
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Cons: pricey; still require image compression; and what happens if that big hard drive goes down?
Flash memory cards
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Pros: first offered as an extra storage option for still images on both tape and disk camcorders; now
coming into use as primary storage media for video as well as stills, thereby eliminating moving parts,
reducing size, increasing durability.
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Cons: not yet supported by in-camera editing software; requires image compression; less storage than
hard drives.
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Laptops
Scanners
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Portable
(Photographic) Cameras
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Key: Can take a picture of at least 300 DPI
 You have software that can enhance an image to 300
DPI and make TIFF files
 Photoshop
 Most basic computer programs have a photoshop-like
software that can allow you to enhance pictures
Qualities of a Good Interview:
1.Conversational narrative / act
2.Comfortable
3.Listening Skills
4.Performance: All the World is a Stage
5.Helps Interviewees
6.Is the Result of Good Preparation
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Select a Topic
Type of Interview
Bio/Life Story
 Family Tree Interviewing
 Topical
 Group
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 Focus Group
 Community Interviews
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Selecting an Interviewee(s)
Setting Up / Pre-Interview
Who to Interview First
 How to Locate Interviewees
 Initiate and Make Contact
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 Call or write letter
 Biographical Sketch
Oral History Biographical Sketch
Filling out this form before the interview may help the interviewer
ask more appropriate and interesting questions. The
interviewee should not feel compelled to complete the entire
form, but only those parts that are applicable, relevant, or
suitable. Again, interviewees should only fill out what they
would like to.
Interviewee’s Full Name:
_________________________________________________
___
Contact information:
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
______
Family History
Birthday & birth place:
_________________________________________________
___
Father’s Name:
_________________________________________________
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Father’s birthday and birth place:
_________________________________________________
_
Father’s occupations:
_________________________________________________
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Mother’s Name:
_________________________________________________
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Mother’s birthday and birth place:
_________________________________________________
_
Mother’s occupations:
_________________________________________________
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Spouse’s Name:
_________________________________________________
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Spouse’s birthday and place of birth:
________________________________________________
Other Relevant Information Concerning Family History:
________________________________________________________
Education, Career, and Activities
Elementary School(s)/Dates:
________________________________________________________
Junior High School(s)/Dates:
________________________________________________________
High School(s)/Dates:
________________________________________________________
Higher Education (Trade School, College, etc)/ Dates:
________________________________________________________
Major/Specialty:
________________________________________________________
Other:
________________________________________________________
Occupations, Locations, and Dates:
_________________________________________________
If Applicable
Government Offices Held (city, county, state, national, and dates):
________________________________________________________
Political Background (political orientation, party affiliation, positions
held, and
dates):_____________________________________________
Military Service (branch, rank, awards and honors, dates):
________________________________________________________
Community Services and Civic Activities (organization/activity, offices
held:____________________________________________________
Religious Affiliation and Activities:
________________________________________________________
Other Information:
________________________________________________________
Prepared By & Date: _______________________________________
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Where to Hold an Interview
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Safe & Comfortable Place
Consider Surrounding Dynamics
Be Near Outlets!
Why Bother to Record?
Independent Researcher
Equipment:
 What Equipment to Take?
 Pre-Test Equipment
 Placement of Equipment
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Keep close
Place near outlets!
Legal Concerns:
 Release Forms
Essential
 Present at beginning
 Explain
 Bring multiple copies!
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Donor Form
Preparation
• Experience
• Budget & Workload
• Background & Historical Research
• Listen to Other Oral History Interviews
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See handout on websites
Critique: questioning style; interviewer presence;
verbal ticks; rapport; sound quality; miscellaneous
Exploratory Interviews
Social Relationships
 Be Aware & Be Conscious
 How to Mitigate Social Relationships
 Should You Match Social Status of Interviewee
 Should You Not Match
 An Interview is a Social Relationship /
Interaction
Questions
 Develop More than Little
 To Questionnaire or Not to Questionnaire
 Canned Follow-up Questions?
 Close-ended vs. Open-ended questions
 Funneling
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Close-ended Questions for Probing
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Examples
Interjections
Types of Probes
Leading Questions
Go Beyond Research Needs!
Interview Strategies & Tips
 Pay Attention to Equipment
 Never Turn Off the Recorder
 Begin With Brief Introduction:
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“It is January 12, 2013. This is Paul Sandul, Assistant Professor of
history at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. I
am in the home of Sharon Allison, the sister of congressman Charlie
Wilson. This interview is being conducted as part of the Charlie
Wilson Oral History Project at Stephen F. Austin State University to
document more about the life and times of congressperson Charlie
Wilson. Also joining me in asking questions is my colleague Scott
Sosebee, also an Assistant Professor of history at Stephen F. Austin
State University.”
Dealing with the Evasive or Nervous
Be an Active Listener
Getting Personal
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The Embarrassing, Controversial, & Sensitive
Overcoming Rehearsal
Arguing with the Interviewee
Body Language
Combine Styles-Be Free to Adapt
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Take Notes
Enjoy the Silence
After the Interview:
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Thank / Follow-up Letter
Fulfill Promises
Listen and Evaluate
Index
Interview History
Biographical Sketch
Transcribe
Final Product = when history-making begins!
– Good form to provide interviewee with a copy of the final
interview and transcription
–
Allowing Interviewee’s to edit or not?
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You do not like yourself and have nothing but
time?
Increases Accessibility, Use, and Ease of Use
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Better for searching, easier sometimes to read, and
sometimes easier to understand
Shelf-life of paper versus tapes/CDs/DVDs
Facilitates preservation ease and motivation
going forward
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Transcription is labor intensive.
 Typically takes 8-10 hours per one hour of interview time.
Transcription is the act of putting the oral, audible, spoken word
into writing, subject to the rules of grammar.
 People do not speak in sentences, paragraphs, commas, or
periods.
Transcription is thus a new creation; it is edited
Transcription is thus the subjective creation of the transcriber
On top of it all: need a good ear; good verbal skills; good writing
and grammar skills; good typing and/or fast typing skills
WARNING!: DO NOT THINK ABOUT USING SOME KIND OF
TRANSCRITION SOFTWARE!
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To date, no transcription software has proven good or accurate enough to do
the technical and quality job that a good oral history transcription needs.
PAY SOMEONE?: Always viable, but expensive! (I made extra
grad school income transcribing-for-hire myself!)
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Despite some limitations, just admit:
Some distortion will occur; but helps readability;
 Imposition of grammar will effect rhythm and
cadence, possibly meaning; but helps readability;
 Has the potential to alter order of speech; impose
meaning; but can ultimately make or break the value
of an interview.
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Again: Transcription makes oral history that
much more valuable and useful!
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A transcription is more than just the interview. It is the
interview, to be sure, but also everything about the
interview, as well as aids to the interview that facilitate
better understanding and usefulness.
Title Page (date/interviewer name/interviewee name /
project and/or institutional affiliation if applicable)
Interviewee Biography
History of Oral History (Copyright clarified/ Repository /
Context notes / Identifiers)
Release Forms
Donor Forms, if applicable
Index/Finding/Subject Guide
 At minimum make a subject guide
Image Guide & Descriptions
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Useful websites for transcription tips:
http://www.wwhp.org/files/oral-historyproject/Transcription_Tips_for_Oral_History.p
df
http://www.mnhs.org/collections/oralhistory
/ohtranscribing.pdf
Baylor’s Guide, I think, is the best:
http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/doc
ument.php?id=14142
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General Rules & Issues:
Spelling: Our friend!
Proofread: Also our friend!
Create a word list
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A. consistent way to spell slang and other nontraditional words
B. List of abbreviations
Change as little as possible; strive for verbatim,
including slang and pejoratives, but be
consistent!
 “cause” over because—but don’t add “cuz” into it
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Some of the big issues / points:
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Clarify/identify people, places, and
things/phenomena, if applicable and/or are able to
Identify mood/emotion
Adding material (such as the above): place in
brackets.
 “I am from San Jose, California [located in northern
California, about 60 miles south of San Francisco] and I
was born in 1975 [laughter].”
 If long, place in a footnote at the bottom of the page.
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Crutch Words and guggles: to delete or not to delete,
that is the question!:
 Uh; uh-huh; um-hm; unh-uh; yeah; y’all, you know
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False Starts: To delete or not to delete?
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Some of the big issues / points:
 Use numerals for years and dates: January 12, 2013; not January
twelfth two-thousand and thirteen.
 Oh, and decades and centuries are rarely possessive, though
they can be, but are usually plural: so, 1980s and not 1980’s.
the 1500s, not 1500’s.
Ellipses (. . .): Are for . . . removing it.
Use an em-dash (—) for incomplete sentences; false starts, hanging
ideas, etc. If there is a big pause, and you think that fact is
important, say so in a bracket and not with ellipses
Unintelligible spots (make best guess and place in brackets that
such is so; write, in brackets, unintelligible).
Care & Upkeep of Oral History Materials b/c
Oral History Materials Are Highly Valuable
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Remember: a transcription and other materials can help facilitate
and motivate the desire to preserve materials in the first place!
Legal Issues
 Copyright
 Who holds the rights
 How should they be handled
 Letter of Intent
 Release Forms
Libel – Don’t Get Sued!!!
Individuals whom interviewees libel or defame can sue the
interviewee, the interviewer, and even the holding institution (if
any).
Restrictions
cancel
agree
http://cont
Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews
between a narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a wellinformed interviewer, with the goal of preserving substantive additions to the historical
record. Because it is primary material, oral history is not intended to present the final, verified,
or complete narrative of events. It is a spoken account. It reflects personal opinion offered by
the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it is partisan, deeply involved, and
irreplaceable.
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. Excerpts up to 1000 words from this
interview may be quoted for publication without seeking permission as long as the use is noncommercial and properly cited.
Requests for permission to quote for other publication should be addressed to Head of Public
Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, 947206000 and follow instructions at http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/collections/cite.html.
INTERVIEWEE RELEASE FORM:
I, _____________________________________, consent to the recording of my statements and do hereby
irrevocably grant to Stephen F. Austin State University (“University”) the right to copy, reproduce, and
use all or a portion of the recorded interviews (the “Interview”) conducted by
__________________________ on __________________. I understand that the Interview will be deposited
in the East Texas Research Center (ETRC) for the use of future scholars and may be used for any lawful
purpose in all forms and media including but not limited to public presentations, audio or video
documentaries, CD-ROMs, internet publications, slide-tape presentations, exhibits, and advertising and
related promotion through the world in perpetuity, and expressly permit such use. This gift does not
preclude any use that I myself may want to make of my words in these recordings to the extent it does
not conflict with this agreement.
I release University and its assigns, licensees and successors from any claims that may arise regarding
the use of the Interview including any claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, or infringement of
moral rights, rights of publicity, or copyright. I acknowledge that I have no ownership rights in any
work developed as a result of the Interview.
I certify that I am over the age of eighteen (18), have read and fully understand the terms of this
agreement.
Signature of Interviewee & Date:_____________________________________________________
Address of Interviewee: _____________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
Contact Information of Interviewee:____________________________________________________
Restrictions:_______________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
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Opalescence
Equipment & Supplies
Audio Cassette Tapes (60 minute / pop off write
protection tab)
 CDs (Gold or Silver / 700MB / CD-R)
 Digital Audio Files (MP3 / WAV / WMA)
 VHS (S-VHS / 60-90 minute)
 Digital Video Files (AVI / WMV)
 Paper (Acid-Free; Lignin Free; Ph level = 7+; high
cotton)
 Boxes and Folders
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External Hard Drives
Online Servers / Backup
Consumer: Carbonite, Keepit, MozyHome, IDrive
and Backblaze
 Small to Medium Business: KineticD, Asigra,
Vembu, CarbonitePro, and IBackup
 Enterprise: Backup-Technology, Intronis, Storage
Guardian, MozyPro, and CoreVault
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The Basics:
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Education & Learning
Make Multiple Copies
 Audio
 Transcript
 Accompanying Paperwork
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Any Questions?
Download

Doing Oral History - Corrigan - Stephen F. Austin State University