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Oral History: Getting Started

Getting Started

Before you proceed, familiarize yourself with the Standards and Principles of the Oral History Association (visit the Oral History Association and International Oral History Association websites for this and other information for standards).  Pay particular attention to the Ethical Guidelines. From Oral History in the Digital Age (OHDA)

A. Project Goal, Outline and Themes

The first step in the oral history process is construction of the project themes and, if possible, a chronology of events relevant to the topic at hand. Try to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this project?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. Who are the potential narrators?
  4. What are the proposed main topics of the interviews?
  5. Are there other objects you want to collect other that OH?

B. Broad Management

       This includes all the concrete determinants of curatorial capacity: budget; staff size
       and training; managerial skills and limits; obligations and expectations; technological
       requirements, and IT capacity.

  1. What is the intended size of the collection?
  2. Needed labor for interviewing, recording, collection management, archiving and access.
  3. What are the technical requirements for recording, preserving and accessing the interviews?
  4. What are the technical resources do you have available?
  5. What technical expertise do you have available?
  6. How much do you plan on spending?
  7. What is the time span of the project?