Oral History & Community
May 2017 / Portsmouth
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
The Center's mission is to "promote greater understanding and sustainability of cultural heritage across the United States and around the world through research, education, and community engagement." Its website provides access to its archival collections, internship opportunities (in DC), lesson plans and resources, and instruction on interviewing. Check out Smithsonian Folklife Center.
Smithsonian Interviewing Guide
This useful booklet contains general guidelines developed by Smithsonian folklorists for conducting an oral history interview as well as a list of sample questions and forms required for properly documenting the interviews. Download the Smithsonian Guide (PDF).
Oral History Association
The Oral History Association is a "membership organization... committed to the value of oral history. OHA engages with policy makers, educators, and others to help foster best practices and encourage support for oral history and oral historians." Explore the OHA website, or jump to its bibliography of online interviewing guides.
Care of Recorded Media
The following organizations offer instruction on the care and handling of archival recorded media collections:
BIBLIOGRAPHY / ORAL HISTORY PRACTICE
Doing Oral History
by Donald A. Ritchie (Oxford University Press, 2014; 368 pages; $30)
This comprehensive book is written as a series of questions and responses on many aspects of oral history, grouped into chapters—including archival preservation. The text is dense but informative, embracing many topics normally overlooked in shorter how-to guides.
Catching Stories: A Practical Guide to Oral History
by Donna M. DeBlasio, et al. (Swallow Press, 2009; 232 pages; $18)
Catching Stories focuses on the most practical issues involved in creating, funding, completing, and archiving an oral history project. (It devotes two chapters to audio and video recording technology and techniques, for example.) Five authors, each with a different area of expertise, contribute to the work.
BIBLIOGRAPHY / STORYTELLING & COMMUNITY
Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project
by Dave Isay (Penguin Books, 2009; 320 pages; $10)
This book is just the first of several compilations of StoryCorps transcripts. Read the books for inspiration, or visit the StoryCorps website.
The Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Chicago interviewer Studs Terkel turned oral history into a popular genre and published a series of books based on his 5,000+ interviews from 1952 to 1997. A project is now underway to bring the original interviews to the web, with the help of guest curators, artists, and a successful Kickstarter campaign. Visit the Studs Terkel Archive, still under construction. For more information, be sure to browse the accompanying project blog.