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Personal Historian: Oral History & Interviewing Techniques
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A personal historian uses oral history interview techniques to interview individuals about their lives or those of their family. Combining the interview, research, and additional items like photographs and documents, a personal historian can create a beautiful story for a client. This course will discuss the things you need to know before specializing in oral histories, how to prepare for and conduct an interview, and what can be done with all the materials. Finally, we will learn how to put everything together and preserve these priceless histories.

Course Content

Module 1
Getting Started in Oral Histories
Note about Web Addresses
Establishing the Business Component
• Business Plans
• Choosing a Niche and Client Base
Fee Setting
• Hourly Rate or Package Pricing
• Example Client File
• Hidden Demands
Contracts and Usage Agreements
• Ways to Use Contracts
• Client Specific Project Contracts
• Deed of Gift or Usage Agreements
Oral History Education and Networking
• Education
• Networking
Legal and Ethical Considerations
Next Steps
Additional Resources
• Books
• Websites

Module 2
Preparing for the Interview
Get To Know the Client
Create an action plan
• Pre-Interview Needs
• Consider the Equipment
• Set the Dates for Interviews
• Prepare for the Interview
• Create Deadlines
Things to Consider When Interviewing
• Create the Right Atmosphere
• Have Props
• Stay Detached
• Gather the Facts
• Dealing with Family Stories and Skeletons
• Painful Situations
• Client Concerns and Worries
• Avoid Becoming a Therapist
• Record Body Language
• Block the Interview Time
Preliminary Interview & Summary
• Providing Questions Prior To the Interview
• Preliminary Interviewing Tips
Preliminary Interview Example
• Preliminary Questions
• Preliminary Interview Summary
Next Steps
Additional Resources
• Books
• Websites

Module 3
Conducting the Interview
Prior to the Interview
The Day of the Interview
Getting Started and Breaking the Ice
Asking the Questions
• Define Unknown Terms
• Add Historical Context
• Grouping Questions
• Dealing with Secrets and Sensitive Information
Tips for Interviewing
• When to interrupt or interject
• Non-verbal responses and note taking
• Breaks
• Timing the interview
• Pause when necessary
Concluding the Interview
• Asking Final Questions
• Confirm Your Notes
• Donations of Artifacts
• Wrapping up the Interview
• Label the File
• Write a Summary
Next Steps
Additional Resources
• Books
• Websites

Module 4
Shaping the Interview Results
Why Do We Transcribe & Index Interviews?
Who will Transcribe?
Basics of Transcribing and Indexing
• Step 1: Listen to the Interview
• Step 2: Transcribe the Interview
• Step 3: Alternative to Transcribing - Index the Interview
Specifics on Transcribing and Indexing
• Developing a Style Guide
• Components of the Transcription
• Words and Phrases
• Style Suggestions
• Interviewee and Interviewer identification
• Interview Summaries
• Interview Abstracts
• Handling Subject Changes
• Example of a Transcript
Next Steps
• Editing the Transcript
Final Thoughts
Additional Resources

Module 5
Oral History Package
• What if you do not have additional materials?
Books, Photo books or Scrapbooks
• Family History
• Biography
• Group History or Organizational History
• What to include in the books
• How can you publish a book?
• Tips for creating a book
• Photo books or Scrapbooks
Blogs or Websites
• Blogs
• Websites
• Tips for Blogs or Websites
Videos or Audio Recordings
Microsoft Office PowerPoint/Slide Show
Final Thoughts
Additional Resources

Module 6
Preservation and Final Thoughts
Special Oral History Projects
• Australian Generations Oral History Program
• Library of Congress Veterans History Project
• Pritzker Military Museum and Library - Holt Oral History Program
• The Memory Project - Canada
• StoryCorps
Preserving the Oral History or Final Product
• Archiving an Interview Journal
• Estate Planning
• Storage of Materials
• Digital Storage
• Tape Storage
• Book or Transcript Storage
• Storage Concerns
Continuing Education
Final Thoughts
Additional Resources
• Books
• Websites

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