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Introduction to Oral History

Oral history is a sound recording of historical information, obtained through an interview that preserves a person’s life history or eyewitness account of a past experience—but read on. In the pages that follow, this manual invites you to explore the full implications of the terms recording, interviewing, and preserving as you learn to create oral history.

Transcription Guidelines

Digital Oral History Workshop

Digital Audio Recording

Digital recording of oral history interviews can produce recordings of better quality and longer life than recordings made on analog tape media. Digital recording also makes it possible to provide broad access to recordings easily through various network and Internet technologies.

Digital Video Recording

Advice on cameras and video formats.

Baylor recommends: using a tripod, external microphone, discusses the pros and cons of MiniDV, MiniDVD, internal harddrives, and flash drives. Baylor recommends cameras have the following features: audio/video terminal, display and data code buttons, DV terminal, exposure compensation control, headphone jack, LCD screen, manual focus control, microphone jack, zoom control, white balance control. They list some appropriate cameras as: Canon Vixia HV 30, Sony Handycam HDR-SR11, Canon Vixia HF10, Sony HVR-V1U, and Canon XH-A1.

Digitization & Oral History

Many oral history collections include audio recordings on open-reel or cassette tapes and typewritten transcripts which must be transferred to digital format to ensure their survival and usefulness.

Archiving Digital Oral History

When oral history archives consisted mostly of analog audio tapes and printed transcripts, the archivists’ functions were usually seen as the final steps in the processing of interviews. Digital technology has eliminated the distinction between the creation of oral history and the preservation and management of it. Information systems must now be at the heart of the oral history enterprise, and attention to data management must begin at the moment the digital recorder is configured, even before actual recording begins. Without careful design and management of data digital oral histories cannot survive in any useful way or for any length of time.

Digital Oral History Online

Any compilation of Web sites and Web-accessible resources has a very short lifespan. Some of the sites described below are likely to persist longer than others. Selections have been made to illustrate a variety of ways digital oral history materials are exhibited, contextualized, and made accessible on the Web. Also included are sites which offer guides, tutorials, or other help for creating and using digital oral history recordings.

Other Documents