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Oral History Research and Resources: ID 162 - Spring 2021

Spring 2021 ID162 Oral History Assignment

ID162 History and Theory 2

University of Kentucky School of Interiors 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

This research guide summarizes the topics we covered in the April 2nd library session and is designed to supplement the oral history assignment from your instructor. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. Have fun!

Jennifer Bartlett

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Jennifer Bartlett
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
405A King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039

Recording a Zoom Meeting

Introduction to Oral History

"Oral history" refers to the collection and study of historical events using audio and video recordings of interviews with people who have personal knowledge and recollections of these events. These interviews are a dialogue between the interviewee (sometimes called the narrator) and a well-prepared interviewer, and are an important part of the historical record as primary sources. Recorded interviews are transcribed, indexed, and preserved in a library or archive for future researchers. Oral histories are used in conjunction with other primary sources, such as archival materials and newspapers, and secondary sources.

Interviewing Techniques

Interviewing another person is an art and improves with practice. The focus should be on the interviewee and they should do most of the talking, with you guiding the conversation.

  1. Begin with a simple, general question such as "Where are you from? or "Please tell me a little bit about yourself."
  2. Ask one question at a time (keep them simple and brief!) and try to stay away from yes-or-no questions. Questions that begin with phrases such as "Tell me about..." or "Can you describe..." can help stimulate the conversation.
  3. Be an active listener, and jot down potential topics for follow-up while the interviewee is speaking.
  4. Keep in mind that this is a conversation, so feel free to pursue interesting digressions if you think they are relevant. Find appropriate ways to bring the interview back to the topic, but don't interrupt the interviewee when they are talking.
  5. Close with a contemplative, open-ended question such as "What advice would you give new College of Design graduates?"

Setting Up and Recording Your Interviews

  1. You will be using Zoom to record your interviews. All University of Kentucky students have free access to the licensed pro version.
  2. Do a test recording before the actual interview begins. Try doing a recording with a friend ahead of time if possible and see how it sounds.
  3. When you start your Zoom session, your interviewee can either dial in with the Zoom session phone number or login via Zoom with the meeting ID. When you both are ready to begin your conversation, click on Record, then select Record on this computer.
  4. At the beginning of the recording, create an audible header for the interview, i.e., "This is Susan Miller interviewing University of Kentucky College of Design alumna Harriet Foster on March 31, 2021 at 2:00 pm via Zoom for the University of Kentucky School of Interiors 50th Anniversary Oral History Project."
  5. When you end the Zoom recording, a folder will appear giving the location of the audio file. Be sure to make a note of this location.
  6. After the interview, send the interviewee a thank you note or email and include the Deed of Gift link as a reminder.

But Wait, You're Not Done! Submitting and Documenting Your Interviews

Post-interview, be sure you do the following:

  • Submit the Deed of Gift form as the Donor/Interviewer and the Interview Metadata Submission form. The project code for the metadata form is INT. These online forms will go directly to Kopana Terry in the Nunn Center and you will receive a copy as well.
  • Submit the two video (mp4) files and copies of both the Deed of Gift and the Interview Metadata forms (one for each oral history interview) to your instructor through Canvas.
What is an Oral History Interview Deed of Gift?  The deed of gift agreement is a crucial part of archiving your interview and making it available to researchers for years to come. This agreement transfers legal title and all literary property rights to the interview to the repository, in this case, University of Kentucky Libraries. Both you as the interviewer and your interviewee need to fill out and submit a separate deed of gift as Donors.
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History Interview Deed of Gift -