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Digital Scholarship Research Guide

What is Oral History?

Oral History documents the past through present-day interviews.  The person you interview may have witnessed a historic event, participated in a historically significant movement, or have first-hand knowledge of a particular subject or topic. Some oral histories help uncover forgotten or under-studied chapters of history; some provide a first-person voice for an important subject; others still help revise our understanding of what happened in the past.  Portions of oral history interviews are regularly featured in scholarly publications and museum exhibits or heard in podcasts or documentary productions.

Quick Tips

  1. Select a theme, subject or topic to explore
  2. Structure the oral history interview as a conversation between two (rarely more) people
  3. Aspire to more than just a question-answer response (aspire to shedding light on matters of significance)
  4. Establish a value of equality between interviewer and respondent (unseat yourself from a position of authority)

Explore Oral History Projects

The History of Oral History