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Oral History Toolkit

This toolkit has been created for students who wish to use the oral history collections at The Claremont Colleges Library, or who wish to conduct oral history projects.

Post-Interview Process

In many ways, the real work of an oral history begins once the interview is complete. The sections below guide you through the post-interview process and considerations.

Wrapping Up the Interview

Thank your interviewee. You should spend time at the end of the interview, once the recorder is off, to decompress a bit with your narrator and thank them for the opportunity to share their story. Additionally, it is a good idea to send a Thank You card to your narrator, so make sure you have a mailing address.

Document the Process

Document the process, including the preparation and methods used for archival purposes and project development.

At this point, you may have compiled several forms to help you with this process. The links below may not all be applicable to your project.

  • Interview Agreement
  • Narrator/Interviewer Fact Sheet (and/or the more detailed Interviewee Life History Form)
  • IRB Form or Exemption letter (only if your department requires it)
  • Permission to Add Form
  • Proper Words Form
  • Deed of Gift Form
  • Field Notes and Recording Logs
  • Photo Log

Transcribing the Interview

The level of detail required in your transcription will depend upon your goals and purposes for your oral history project. For example, you will need to decide which disfluencies (any breaks or irregularities such as "uhm," "hmmm..." and so forth) to include in your transcription.

The transcription process takes a lot of time, particularly if you have never done transcription before. There is no hard and fast rule, but by some estimates, one hour of audio or video can take 4-9 hours to transcribe, depending on the subject, number of speakers, and audio quality.

There are a number of free transcription resources available. 

Some researchers have been able to work with voice to text translators, but their abilities are limited. You will still need to edit for disfluencies and transcription errors.