Family History: Do background research for the oral history

Family History: Do background research for the oral historyBy Barry J. Ewell

It is natural to want to rush out and start the interview process, but no project should begin without some basic investigation of available resources. I found that by gathering and organizing material, I was able to gain a very good insight into which direction I should go and what questions I needed to ask. As you prepare, you may need to review other Continue reading

Family History: Types of oral history interviews

Family History: Types of oral history interviewsBy Barry J. Ewell

There are four basic types of oral history interviews, which are outlined below.

Life histories. These are interviews with individuals about their backgrounds from childhood to adulthood. Most follow a chronology. Life histories provide an opportunity to discuss a variety of subjects based on the interviewer’s interests and the interviewee’s remembered experiences and perspectives. They are ideal for family research, as well as for certain aspects of community and social histories. Continue reading

Family History: What are oral interviews?

Family History: What are oral interviews?By Barry J. Ewell

The real record of history is found in the lives of ordinary people who lived it. Before you start conducting an interview, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of an oral interview. Oral history is the collection and recording of personal memoirs as historical documentation. It emphasizes the significance of human experience. Continue reading

Family History: Oral interview considerations

Family History: Oral interview considerationsBy Barry J. Ewell

Do I conduct a telephone or a personal oral interview?
When you have an option, choose to interview the person in their own home. It is by far the best option, as the interviewee will be much more relaxed. A one-on-one interview is best. Privacy encourages an atmosphere of trust and honesty. A third person present, even a close partner, can inhibit and influence free discussion.

Audio versus video taping. Should you audiotape or videotape an interview? The choice may not be yours—sometimes a person who is comfortable sitting and talking into a tape Continue reading

Family History: Preparing for the telephone interview

Family History: Preparing for the telephone interviewBy Barry J. Ewell

Because I lived a great distance from most of these contacts, I conducted most of the interviews via telephone. Each conversation was taped. Over the years that I have conducted interviews, I have found that taping the interview leaves me free to focus on the discussion. The only notes I took were thoughts that came during the discussion about further questions to ask or expand upon. I used the following equipment for the interview: Continue reading

Family History: Setting up the interview

Family History: Setting up the interviewBy Barry J. Ewell

The best way to approach someone you want to interview is by personal contact, rather than by letter, and often the initial contact will be by telephone. This gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself, explain your project, and outline the sort of topics you might cover in your conversation. The person you have approached may be uncertain or might feel they have nothing interesting to say, so you sometimes have to do a bit of Continue reading

Family History: Preparing for the interview

Family History: Preparing for the interview By Barry J. Ewell

Preparing for any interview—whether it’s ten minutes or all day in length—requires careful planning, research, familiarity with your equipment, and establishing a good rapport with the inter-viewee. Consider the following as part of your preparation:

Practice a couple interviews before the real thing. Before you start recording, make at least one practice interview, preferably with someone you know so that you are not afraid Continue reading