The Topic:
Oral History

Easier - Oral history is recording and sharing interviews of people about their past memories.
 
Harder - "Oral history is a method of gathering and preserving historical information through recorded interviews of people about past events and ways of life" (Oral History Association). The term encompasses a wide range of practices that are loosely connected by a common methodology. Oral history methods pair the oldest type of historical inquiry, evoking spoken word responses that predates writing, with relatively modern technologies, audio and video recording.
 
Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques
http://lcweb.loc.gov/folklife/fieldwk.html
Learn more to collect information including interviews, recordings, still photography, and video.
Sites for Younger Students:
2) Scholastic's Oral History Scrapbook http://teacher.scholastic.com/immigrat/scrapbk/index.htm
 
Institute for Oral History Online Workshop (Workshop on the Web)
(Baylor University, Institute for Oral History)
http://www3.baylor.edu/Oral_History/Workshop.htm
This site is a very good guide to the nuts and bolts of oral history.
Within the Website:
2) Tips for Family Oral History http://www3.baylor.edu/Oral_History/Familytips.htm
  
My History Guidebook
http://www.myhistory.org/guidebook/interview.html
Learn how to collect oral histories including before the interview, questions, interviews, after the interview, and sample questions.
Similiar Websites:
2) How to Collect Oral Histories by David Sidwell http://www.usu.edu/~oralhist/oh_howto.html
3) Oral History Techniques by Dr. B. Truesdell http://www.indiana.edu/~ohrc/pamph1.htm
 
Using Oral History
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/lessons/oralhist/ohhome.html
This lesson presents social history content and topics through the voices of ordinary people. It draws on primary sources from the American Memory Collection, American Life Histories, 1936-1940.
Related Websites:
2) Overview of Using Oral History to Explore the Lives of Everyday Americans http://www.cms.ccsd.k12.co.us/ss/SONY/orbeta1/oralhome.htm
3) Internet and the Preservation of Oral History http://www.crosscut.net/history.html
 
After exploring several of the sites below, complete one or more of the following activities:
 
Outline the Steps for Completing an Oral History Project. Pretend that you are completing an oral history project; it could be an interview of one person. Visit several of the procedures sites like How to Collect Oral Histories and Introduction to Oral History. Put together a step-by-step outline of the steps you would follow in competing your project.
 
Plan the Interview Process. Prepare to interview your oldest-living relative or an interesting neighbor. Visit sites like Oral History Questions (1), and Oral History Questions (2). If you do plan to interview an older person, look at the tips at A Little Advice. Put together a list of interview questions and outline the steps you would follow. Don't forget to include the procedure for operating the recording equipment. Rehearse and critique the interview process with a helpful friend.
 
Explore Social History. Visit Using Oral History and begin by studying oral histories at the Federal Writers' Project, then conduct some interviews yourself (Teacher overview at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/lessons/oralhist/ohhome.html).
 
List the Ethical Considerations Involved. Identify all ethical items that come into play when completing a oral history project. Consider interviewee selection, your own background and biases, handling of information, recordings, transcriptions, and the preservation of materials. You will find lots of pointers at Oral History Association and the other sites.
 
Plan An Oral History Project. Visit project sites like Kellytown Oral History, The Whole World Was Watching, and What Did You Do In the War Grandma? Compare and contrast two of the projects. Now identify a new oral history project that you could complete in your community. Start small, think of one person to interview; a neighbor or family member. You might focus on an event, time period or unique experience such as immigration, local history, civil rights or women's movement, life on the farm or town, the first job, growing up, change, or life in the 40s (50s, 60s or other era). Ask the person to volunteer. Employ a release form.
 
Complete An Oral History WebQuest. Adapt or follow the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Historically Speaking (Grade 7) http://wms.watertown.k12.ma.us/library/oralhistory/
2) Oral History WebQuest (Grades 10-11) http://www.huhs.org/departments/webquests/grohmat/
3) Understanding History Through Stories and Cultural Inquiry http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/pages/listculturalje.html
 
More Good How-to Sites
Clio Whispers About Oral History by Raul Blacksten
http://home.earthlink.net/~raulb/Clio-2.html
In this article the author shares ten straightforward recommendations for conducting oral history interviews.
 
Generations CanConnect
http://generations-canconnect.ic.gc.ca/english/program/index.html
This project links seniors and youth in communities across Canada in a dialogue which explores, records and celebrates seniors' contributions to their country and their communities.
 
Oral History Association
http://omega.dickinson.edu/organizations/oha/
Site provides background information, principles and standards for the area of study, ethics recommendations, and evaluation guidance.
 
Oral History in Your Community by Carolynne M. Kieffer
http://muextension.missouri.edu/xplor/aging/gg0008.htm
This article promotes the collection of life accounts for understanding the history and special culture of a community.
 
Oral History at Yahoo.Com
http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/History/Oral_History/
This links-page connects to numerous resource sites for oral histroy.
Related Links-Pages:
2) Oral History: Interviewing Relatives at About.Com http://genealogy.about.com/hobbies/genealogy/cs/oralhistory/index.htm
3) Oral History Resources on the Web http://www.edheritage.org/linkpages/orhis.htm
 
Regional Oral History Office (The Bancroft Library)
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/BANC/ROHO/
The instruction section contains oral history tips and the 'One Minute Guide.'
  
Oral History Projects
1968: The Whole World is Watching
http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/1968/
This site focuses on the year 1968 and the experiences of people who lived through that time period.

 

Australia's Oral History Collections
http://www.nla.gov.au/ohdir/
This site provides provides electronic access to oral history endeavour in Australia.
 
Civil Rights Oral History Bibliography
http://www-dept.usm.edu/~mcrohb/
Site provides a detailed guide to over nine hundred oral history interviews about the civil rights movement in Mississippi.
 
Guardians of Freedom
http://connections.smsd.org/veterans/introduction.htm
This great student project contains oral histories of World War II veterans as well as student reflections on the project. You can also find some great World War II resources. Materials are also available for teachers development these types of projects.
 
Oral History Online
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/BANC/ROHO/ohonline/
This collection includes oral histories relating to the Free Speech Movement, the Suffragists Oral History Project, the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement, the Earl Warren Oral History Project, Health Care, Science, Technology and others.
 
Kellytown Oral History
http://avenue.org/Community/Neighborhoods/Kellytown/History/
These are the stories of people's lives in the Kellytown neighborhood of Charlottesville, Virginia. This project began as a collaboration among the Kellytown Neighborhood Association, Barbara Rivers and her grade school class at Venable Elementary School and the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.
 
The Whole World Was Watching: An Oral History of 1968
(A joint project between South Kingstown High School and Brown University)
http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/1968/
Members of a Sophomore Class interviewed Rhode Islanders about their recollections of the year 1968.
 
What Did You Do In the War Grandma?
http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/WWII_Women/tocCS.html
An Oral History of Rhode Island women during World War II, written by students in the Honors English Program at South Kingstown High School .
 
World War II
http://www.isd77.k12.mn.us/schools/dakota/worldwarII/worldwarIIinterviews.htm
Eighth graders at Dakota Meadows Middle School (Mankato, MN) recorded oral histories of WWII years.
Related Websites:
2) Institute of World War II and the Human Experience http://www.fsu.edu/~ww2/
3) Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II
http://fas-history.rutgers.edu/oralhistory/orlhom.htm
 
Teacher Sites 
Getting the Forgotten Voices: An Approach to Oral History from Southern Institute at Tulane University
http://www.tulane.edu/~so-inst/oralhistory.html
Provides a step-by-step guide to getting students into being oral historians.
 
Links to Oral History Sites
http://www.baylor.edu/~OHA/Othersites.html
Here is a list of links to websites of organizations and publications, an oral history discussion list, and oral history centers and collections.
 
Listening to History
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=299
Introduces students to oral history.
Another Lesson from Edsitement:
2) What Is History? Timelines and Oral Histories http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=406
 
Oral History
http://www.azstarnet.com/~nsolomon/indivweb/oralhist.htm
Here you find lesson guides for examining oral history traditions by collecting and examining oral histories.
 
Oral History Collection Project (Grades 6-12)
http://www.tcomschool.ohiou.edu/cdtm/index.htm
This study guide has several sections. The first two pages give a background to the methodology of oral narratives and why they are important. Additional pages talk about how you can create an archive of local stories in the classroom
 
Preserving Community/Cuentos del Varrio: An Oral History Instruction Manual
http://web.nmsu.edu/~publhist/ohindex.html
This extensive website describes an oral history project and includes the project design, research, equipment and recording techniques, interview and post-interview processes, issues in preservation, and more.
 
  
 
oral history
microphone
research
background information
interviewer
autobiography
question list
audiotape recording
release form
field notes
tape index
interviewee
label
bias
autobiographical
topical
cultural assumptions
accuracy
values
attitudes
note-taking
respondent
collection
'fallibility of memory'
interview
interpretation
transcription
life-mapping
indexing
distortion
preservation
collaboration
videotape recording
teller
storytelling
life story
ethics
life history
'popular memory'
individual testimony
narrative
collection
memory
common theme
representativeness
reminiscences
ethics
inquiry
 
  
 
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99.
Updated, 10/02