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Oral History: Collection Management

Collection Management


The oral history collection must be produced, processed, organized, protected, and made accessible. This involves a range of considerations, including but not limited to, describing the collection by developing appropriate collection metadata and file naming, keeping and documenting the collection by choosing an appropriate content management system and file format, and choosing a storage and preservation solution.

1. Process the OH interviews

Establish a careful routine to ensure that your interviews are safely transferred from the recording equipment to computer as soon as possible after interviewing.

  1. Transfer the file(s) to an appropriate folder on your computer; rename as necessary.

  2. Put a preservation copy in a suitable format on a separate hard drive. (Consider making this file read-only so that you can never accidentally delete or edit it!)

  3. Verify the preservation copy.

  4. Make any additional low quality copies you want for playback, transcription, etc. Ensure they are suitably named (or labelled if using CDs).

Once all these have been done, you can delete the interview from the recorder's storage card. Recording and Storage of Oral History Interviews

Content Management Systems (CMS)


Use a CMS for managing digital recordings of OH and displaying the content on the web. It  is a database-driven site that provides a user-friendly way for non-technical staff to upload, describe and edit information about digital objects (text, images, audio, video) in a way which allows to create an online searchable and display site for users. 


 It is always advisable, when either buying or installing software to find out first if your data can be exported in a format that could be used in another system.

Metadata to Describe the OH recordings


It is Collecting and organizing data about the interview in a systematic way, and following cataloging standards. Metadata include specific fields of collected information which describe the interview and enable discovery and access in a variety of ways.  It is important to collect the following types of information or metadata categories: administrative, descriptive, technical, preservation, and rights and access.  Metadata: Best Practices for Oral History Access and Preservation

Description in order to augment the accessibility of the interview, repositories should make transcriptions, indexes, time tags, detailed descriptions or other written guides to the contents.

OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer).

OHMS is an open source,  web-based application designed to improve the user experience you provide for oral history, no matter what CMS or repository you use.  There are 2 main components of the OHMS system

  • OHMS Application: The OHMS application is where the work is done.  This is the back-end, web-based application where interviews are imported, and metadata is created.  In the OHMS application transcripts are time-coded and/or interviews are indexed.  Upon completion, the interview record (including the synchronized transcript and/or time-coded index) are exported as an XML file.  When located on a web server, the OHMS XML file is what interfaces with your content management system through the OHMS Viewer.
  •  OHMS Viewer: The OHMS viewer is the user interface of ohms.   When an interview is called by the repository, the OHMS viewer loads, calling select interview level metadata and the intra interview level metadata created in the OHMS Application from the corresponding xml file.