Oral History Interviews
Oral history is an interview that records a person’s recollection of experiences,
thoughts, and feelings about a specific event or a period of time. By showing
us how national or international events affected the lives of individuals, oral
history adds a personal dimension to our study of the past.
Collecting oral history interviews is a way to discover your own primary
sources. Members of your family and community can surprise you with a
wealth of information and insights into major events of our times. These
guidelines will help you organize an oral history interview.
First choose your subject. Whom would you like to interview? Consider the
• What historical information could be obtained from this person?
• Would this person be willing to participate?
• How much time will you need to complete your project?
Think about how you will record your subject’s words. If possible, obtain a
tape recorder and get your subject’s permission to record your interviews.
Planning the Interview
• Write an introduction to your interview. Introduce yourself if necessary,
and include an explanation of this project and its purpose.
Literature review of your topic
(your library research results using APA citation style= about 3-5 pages)
Introduction of your interviewee= Name, age, where he/she grew up; where he she lived when the event occurred or he/she first experienced your topic; where interview took place; when interviewed and how long the interview took; who was present?
Examples of questions you asked interviewee about the topic
what you learned about your topic from your interviewee (Summary of what you were told and how it fit with what you had learned from your library research; use quotes from the interview to help make your point= 3-4 pages)
Summary and conclusion (of your topic based on library research and interviewee’s experience of the event or topic) = 1-2 pages