Oral History Interviewing
Course Description: Oral history is a means of
manufacturing historical information by systematically interviewing persons
who have had significant experiences. This course will be useful to anyone who is considering
a career in Archival Management, Public History, Museology, Historical
Editing, Anthropology, Folklore, or Sociology, and anyone interested in
improving their listening skills and interviewing techniques and in recording
interesting historical facts from characters whose stories otherwise would not be
Course Prerequisites: none.
Course Purpose: basic training in listening and asking good
questions in order to record personal stories.
Goal 1 - Basic understanding of the principles
of producing oral history as an historical source.
Goal 2 - Basic competence as an interviewer who is comfortable
with the equipment and the interview situation, is able to listen creatively
and with restraint, and is able to ask the type of questions that elicit
an excellent oral history.
Skills/Competencies: Use of a transcribing machine.
Topic/Theme 1 - What is oral history?
Topic/Theme 2 - What makes for a good oral historian?
Topic/Theme 3 - How can I be a better interviewer?
We'll begin by defining what we mean by "oral history." Then we'll
look at our listening habits, improve our skills in asking open-ended questions, evaluate
other people's oral history interviews, and get lots of practice interviewing
and a little bit of experience transcribing some of your interviews. The result: you will begin to develop professional
skills of oral history interviewing and transcription. Your final product
in this course will be a full one-hour oral history interview. Your interviews for this course
may possibly be included
in the oral history collection of the Center of Southwest Studies.
- Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History.
New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995. 267 pages.
- Also of interest, but not required text: Dunaway, David K., and Baum, Willa
K., editors. Oral History: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. 2nd edition.
Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press and the American Association for State and Local
History, 1996. 432 pages.
|Subject to change by the
||Copyright 2002, by J. Todd
Ellison updated 2011
Page last modified:
April 7, 2011