Oral History FAQs

Most questions about oral history are answered within the pages of our Workshop on the Web. Perhaps you would also like to know . . .

What digital recording equipment should I use?
Digital technologies change rapidly, and oral historians rely on expert advice to help keep up with the latest trends. For all matters digital, visit Oral History in the Digital Age.

What should I do to prepare for a career in oral history?
Individual journeys to oral history careers follow several different educational paths, including library science and archives, museum studies, folklore, anthropology, communication studies, American studies, international studies, and, of course, history and public history. One proven way to a career in oral history is to gain experience in a professional oral history center that subscribes to the Principles and Best Practices of the Oral History Association. For interesting stories on eclectic entries into oral history, see "My First Experience with Oral History," a special issue of Oral History Review 29, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 2002).

What are the current topics of discussion among oral historians?
This question is best answered by searching the discussion logs of H-Oralhist, where newcomers to oral history meet professional practitioners to discuss everything from how many uhs and umms to include in a transcript to what microphone to use for the best recording to how to deal with university IRBs concerning interview agreement forms.

How do I locate oral history collections in my part of the country or on my research topic?
Links to the major oral history collections in the U.S. and around the world are provided by both the Oral History Association and by H-Oralhist.

How do I cite oral history sources in papers and publications?
Provide sufficient information to lead the interested reader to the physical location of the cited source: interviewee name (as author); interviewer name; date and place of the interview; type of interview materials (audio recording, transcript); and location of materials.

Examples of notes (N) and bibliographic forms (B):

N 1. Albert Harry Reed, interview by Stephen Sloan, October 9, 2007, in Waco, Texas, compact disc, Institute for Oral History, Baylor University, Waco, TX.
B Reed, Albert Harry. Interview by Stephen Sloan. October 9, 2007, in Waco, Texas. Compact disc. Institute for Oral History, Baylor University, Waco, TX.

On the Baylor CONTENTdm digital transcript screen, click on "reference URL" in the menu bar for the complete URL to cite.
N 3. Lonnie Belle Hodges, interview by Vivienne Malone-Mayes, August 30, 1990, in Waco, Texas, transcript, Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX, available online at http://contentdm.baylor.edu/u?/08buioh,1360.
B Hodges, Lonnie Belle. Interview by Vivienne Malone-Mayes. August 30, 1990, in Waco, Texas. Transcript. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. http://contentdm.baylor.edu/u?/08buioh,1360 (accessed June 10, 2011).

N 4. Abner Anglin Hyden, "Oral Memoirs of Abner Anglin Hyden," interview by Lois E. Myers on January 20, 1998, in Waco, Texas (Waco, TX: Baylor University Institute for Oral History, 2001), 22.
B Hyden, Abner Anglin. "Oral Memoirs of Abner Anglin Hyden." Interviewed by Lois E. Myers on six occasions from 20 January to 19 August, 1998, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX.

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