Oral History Interviews - the process
Oral history is a collaborative process. The interviewee shares memories with the interviewer who has researched and planned the interview.
1. We discuss with you the focus and structure of the interview(s) or oral history project, determine who is to be interviewed and the logistics for the interview(s) - when, where and any details specific to your situation. We discuss if you want to incorporate photographs and other images and documents. We endeavour to determine everything you consider important so that the interview and the oral history it generates is as complete and satisfactory as possible. We discuss copyright. Another discussion is about whether or not you want to include standard genealogical information like the names of parents, grandparents, siblings and relevant dates for researchers at the start of your interview. Overall, together we discuss the details of our working relationship, clarify desires and expectations, and answer any questions that you have.
Before the first face to face interview session, we establish, preferably by phone, information to guide and shape the interview. If you prefer you can complete a written questionnaire. This information helps us do the necessary preparation and research for your interview. For example, interview preparation
for the Bob Magnus recordings focused on World War 2 history and the beginnings of British local volunteer defence groups.
2. The interview(s) are conducted wherever you feel comfortable; most people choose to be interviewed at home or at their organisation but it's up to you. Most interview sessions last about an hour but you also need to allow time for equipment to be set up and packed away and time to discuss the project and ideas and concerns you might have. About an hour of speaking is the equivalent of approximately 10,000 words. Depending on what you want to record, you might choose and/or need to have several interview sessions.
3. The digitally recorded interview is then edited for listener accessibility and transferred to a CD, DVD or USB. History Herstory follows accepted oral history collection best practice and saves a copy of the original recording with no editing whatsoever for archival purposes. We record at Oral History Association Australia standards. An edited version of the recording with 'topping and tailing', removal of unwanted sounds and so on, is prepared for the client. The archival version is, of course, handed over if wanted. If there are parts of the interview that you decide you don’t want included in your recording these are removed from the edited recording version.
At all stages History Herstory consults you - it is your history; we are simply helping you tell your story.
4. Apart from an audio recording you may decide to have a:
- Digital Story based on your interview
- Life Story Tribute book
- Private page on the History Herstory website
- Sound Bites - short extracts from the interview highlighting
specific aspects of the interview.