Checklist for Students Collecting Oral Histories
   List of things to remember when interviewing

Before you go

  • Call and introduce yourself, explain why you’d like to meet with him/her, and set up your appointment
  • Get your subject a copy of your questions and an explanation of the project (Some people like to know what they’ll be asked ahead of time)
  • Make sure you have everything you need: questions, paper, writing utensil, tape recorder (with working batteries), tape and camera
  • Okay your questions with the teacher
  • Read through questions to make sure all are clear and you can understand and pronounce everything

During the interview

  • Thank the subject for agreeing to do the interview
  • Explain the release form and ask him/her to sign it

  • (This gives you and the school permission to use and share what they tell you in the interview)
  • Make sure you get the subject’s name (spelled correctly—make sure you can read it on the release form), address, and phone number in case you need to contact him/her again
  • Test the recorder by recording your introduction. Include: First & last name of person being interviewed, first & last name of person doing the interview (YOU!), topic of interview, date and location of interview
  • Rewind and listen to the introduction. Make sure the recorder is picking up both the questions and the answers. If okay, begin. . .
  • Ask your questions
  • Don’t rush. Speak loudly and clearly. Give your interview subject time to think. (Some are remembering back three, four, or even six decades.)
  • Listen closely so you can ask follow-up questions, if necessary
  • After interview, be sure to ask if there is anything you didn’t ask that he or she would like to add
  • Thank him/her again for talking with you!

After the Interview

  • Type the transcript
  • Send a thank you!  Enclose your transcript with any questions you have highlighted (dates, locations, unclear parts of the tape)
  • In your thank you include why you appreciate their time, what you learned, the most interesting part of the interview
  • If you choose to handwrite your thank you, check all spelling and write very neatly

Next: writing the story and putting together a presentation

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