Paul J. P. Sandul Assistant Professor of History Stephen F. Austin State University Oral History is a term that conjures up many images and ideas A conversation A historical source Oral History Paradox?: It is of such obvious and selfevident importance few have sought to define exactly why it is so. 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 Oral History is as old as history itself! Story tellers Ancient Historians & histories Oral Histories were highly valued Modern examples Attempts to professionalize the craft Rules and guidelines to overcome issues of memory and bias Rules and guidelines to articulate responsibilities Equipment concerns Interview strategies Professional / Academic History’s challenge to Oral History Leopold von Ranke (mid-19th century) Favors written documents Favors archives Favors Political Favors “great men” and “great classes” 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 Transcription = imposing literary grammar rules and form on the spoken audible word Costs: equipment and transcription labor Oral history as: A) one among many types of sources B) as a unique historical source 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? 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. 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 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! Be aware of lighting (shadows) and background (i.e., bright colors and windows) Media: Recording Systems Four types: MiniDV tapes, removable MiniDVDs, hard disk drives, and flash memory cards. MiniDV tape Pros: compact; affordable; can preserve original quality without compression; good editing software. 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 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. 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 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. Cons: pricey; still require image compression; and what happens if that big hard drive goes down? Flash memory cards 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. Cons: not yet supported by in-camera editing software; requires image compression; less storage than hard drives. Laptops Scanners Portable (Photographic) Cameras 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 Select a Topic Type of Interview Bio/Life Story Family Tree Interviewing Topical Group Focus Group Community Interviews Selecting an Interviewee(s) Setting Up / Pre-Interview Who to Interview First How to Locate Interviewees Initiate and Make Contact 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: _________________________________________________ ___ Father’s birthday and birth place: _________________________________________________ _ Father’s occupations: _________________________________________________ ___ Mother’s Name: _________________________________________________ ___ Mother’s birthday and birth place: _________________________________________________ _ Mother’s occupations: _________________________________________________ ___ Spouse’s Name: _________________________________________________ ___ 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: _______________________________________ Where to Hold an Interview 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 Keep close Place near outlets! Legal Concerns: Release Forms Essential Present at beginning Explain Bring multiple copies! Donor Form Preparation • Experience • Budget & Workload • Background & Historical Research • Listen to Other Oral History Interviews • • • 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 Close-ended Questions for Probing 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: “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 The Embarrassing, Controversial, & Sensitive Overcoming Rehearsal Arguing with the Interviewee Body Language Combine Styles-Be Free to Adapt • • • Take Notes Enjoy the Silence After the Interview: – – – – – – – – 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? You do not like yourself and have nothing but time? Increases Accessibility, Use, and Ease of Use 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 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! 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!) 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. Again: Transcription makes oral history that much more valuable and useful! 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 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 General Rules & Issues: Spelling: Our friend! Proofread: Also our friend! Create a word list 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 Some of the big issues / points: 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. 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 False Starts: To delete or not to delete? 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 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:_______________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ 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 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 The Basics: Education & Learning Make Multiple Copies Audio Transcript Accompanying Paperwork Any Questions?