“People are hungry for stories. It's part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another." Studs Terkel
What is an oral history? An oral history is a method for collecting the stories of individuals, families, important events or everyday life. It is the preservation of a moment and a record of lives lived, and becomes a rich repository of history for the future.
Conducting an oral history does take skill and some knowledge. But you don’t need to take a semester-long course or extensive study to learn those skills. Instead, take this course and you will learn everything you need to know to begin documenting the stories around you. I've conducted hundreds of hours of oral histories and ethnographic interviews as a journalist, author, and scholar. I can prep you for what to expect, what to avoid, how to get through the difficult questions and pause long enough for the perfect stories to come through.
You will find this class useful if: 1. You want to document your family history. The stories of our families are often the ones we forget to tell and regret not asking to hear. You will learn exactly what you need to know to take on the project of building a family oral history.
2. You want to learn the best techniques for directed and semi-directed interviewing. The interviewing technique is useful not just for oral history but for any living history research, especially for students, documentarians, and journalists.
3. You’re a playwright/author/screenwriter who uses first person narrative as source material. The practice of conducting oral histories has long been used by artists as research and inspiration for their work.
You do not need any previous knowledge to take this class. I will teach you everything you need to know to conduct an oral history from start to finish. This class is capped at 15 so each student gets one-on-one time and we can discuss specific strategies for oral history projects you may have in mind.
What you will learn in this two hour course: 1. Oral history research design (selecting interviewees, researching, question writing) 2. How to set up and perform interviews (the administrative part + equipment) 3. How to interview (the techniques of speaking, listening, note taking, and asking follow ups) 4. How to annotate, transcribe and prepare your research materials 5. How to ethically distribute and share materials (archives, copyright constraints, privacy issues)
Photo Attribution: Evergreen Protective Association volunteer recording an oral history at Greater Rosemont History Day (Share Alike Some rights reserved by Baltimore Heritage)
Professional Music Lover, Anthropologist, Writer