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CORE 181: Writing about Home (Peter Miller): Oral History

Conducting Oral Histories

Digital Recordings

We recommend using a digital recorder. These come in many different forms—such as dedicated piece recording technology or a program installed on your computer, phone, or tablet with a microphone. No matter what type of digital recorder you use, it should ideally have:

  • a digital counter
  • sufficient memory storage
  • an external power cable
  • an external microphone
  • the capability to record in WAV file format. This file format is the current recommended format for audio preservation. Save this file as your master file and create an mp3 as your access file; taking care to store both files on your PC’s hard drive AND an alternative location such as an external hard drive.

Establishing Interview Agreements

For interviews, it is often a good idea to have an interview agreement with the person(s) you are interviewing. 

Why?

1) In some locations, it is actually illegal to interview someone without written consent.

2) Written consent establishes another piece of evidence that the interview itself actually occurred when you state it occurred.   

Note: It is also a good idea to state during the interview itself when you are interviewing, who you are interviewing, and that you have been given consent for the interviewee.  Example: "It is [date]. I am here with [interviewee's name] who has given consent for this interview."