Oral History Assignment

2. Oral History Assignment

Part I: Set Up the Interview

Contact interviewee to introduce yourselves, describe the project, and determine their willingness and availability for an interview.  We may need to contact our community partners to identify another interviewee if the person declines to participate.  Coordinating with the interviewee, reserve a room at the DCPL (preferably MLK Room 221) or find another quiet space that is accessible and comfortable for all of you.  Here’s the link for DCPL room reservations: http://dclibrary.org/services/meetingrooms

Note: You should get started right away.  Setting up the interview involves a complicated process of coordination that frequently is not smooth and easy and often requires a turn to plan B or C.

Part II:  Prepare for Interview

Download the interview guide for the Robert Warren Interview (http://downtowndc.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/robert-warren_interview-guide.doc).  Using our themes from this semester and your understanding of the particular knowledge of your interviewee, revise the guide (in collaboration with your interview partner if you have one). Use these guidelines drawn from the in-class presentation to help you think about framing questions: Guidelines for Asking Questions.  Ideally we want the interviews to have a tension between narrator’s personal stories and their larger structural analysis and critique.  Lastly, we want to tap into what motivates your interviewees, and how do they feel we should move forward in the future.  Submit the guide as soon as you are finished with it to Dr. Kerr.  He will provide comment quickly.  Using these comments revise your guide.  Reserve the oral history recording equipment ahead of time.  Be familiar with how to use it before arriving to the interview. Conduct a practice session with a willing partner.  Both members of a team should know how to use the equipment.  You need to use the professional audio equipment to ensure the sound quality of the interview.

Download the Creative Commons release form and print three copies if you are interviewing alone and four copies if you are interviewing in a team.  The forms allow for people to use the interviews for non-commercial purposes if they credit the interviewers and narrator.  Permission will need to be granted from the narrator (and possibly the interviewers) if the interview is ever used for commercial purposes.  Be sure to bring these forms to the interview.

Release Form – One Interviewer

Release Form – Two Interviewers

Part II:  Conduct the Interview

Arrive prior to the interviewee so that you have time to set up the equipment and greet them when they arrive.  Be sure to ask permission to record on the recording, state the names of the participants, the location, and the date.  Proceed with your interview guide and know it very well.  But most importantly listen carefully, be prepared to ditch questions, and be willing to explore new directions.  Ask probing and follow up questions and be attentive to body language that may hint at developing or diminishing rapport.  The interview should be at least one hour long or very close to it.  At the conclusion of the interview, request that the interviewee sign the Creative Commons release form.  Be clear what the form entails so that you can answer questions and accurately describe the terms of the agreement.  Sometimes the interviewee requests to review the transcript prior to signing the release form.  If that is the case, be sure you have a clear way to get back in touch with the narrator and make sure they understand we are working on a tight deadline.

Part II: Transcribe the Interview

Use the template for the DC Oral History Project.  You may choose to download the free tool Express Scribe, which allows you to stop, start, rewind, and slow down the audio without leaving your word processing program by using hot keys.   Use this template for your transcriptions (transcription cover page).  If you are working in a team, divide the interview in half, transcribe your portion, and then put your halves together in one document at the end.  Make sure that there is a smooth transition between each half.  In brackets, indicate who is did the transcription for each half and precisely where the switch takes place.  Approximately every three minutes include a time stamp from the audio (00:00:00 — hrs:min:sec).  Submit the transcript, audio recording, and release form to Dr. Kerr.  In order to speed up the processing of your materials, please you this checklist and follow these guidelines for file naming: File Names and Checklist.

Due Date: March 28, 2012


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