Home > How To > SOHP
Guide > Designing an Oral History Project
Designing an Oral History Project
Questions to consider before you begin an oral history
With these broad questions answered, you can more
easily tackle the nuts and bolts:
- What is the historical subject you want to investigate?
- What are your goals in undertaking this project?
- What uses do you envision for the information
- What kinds of materials will the project generate?
What should you do with them?
As an exercise in planning a project, consider how
the answers to these questions would vary in each of the following cases:
- Who can provide you with information on this subject?
How many interviews should you conduct? With how many different people?
- What personnel do you need to do this?
- What equipment and materials do you require?
- How long will the project run?
- What kind and amount of background research should
- What funds will you need? Where might you obtain
- A project in which high school students interview
Vietnam veterans in their community in an effort to understand the
impact of the war on individuals. (An example of oral history used
- A set of in-depth interviews with former President
Jimmy Carter on his administration's foreign policy regarding the
Middle East to be added to the collections of materials on his presidency
at the Carter Library. (An example of oral history used to create
new historical materials for the future use of researchers, scholars,
and policy analysts.)
- A set of interviews with former minor league
baseball players on the history of their sport and its relation to
major league baseball. The interviews are to be used as the basis
for a radio broadcast series on the changes in minor league baseball.
(An example of oral history used in public history, i.e., interpreting
history to the public.)