A Guide to Creating Oral Histories
Oral History HandbookCompiled by Jim Schnur and Eric Chrisp
September 16, 1997
Our Mission Statement:
To preserve the heritage of our community, the neighborhood center will collect cassette tapes and videotapes of interviews that community members find important. These oral histories will preserve the historic record of our community for present and future generations.
The Oral History Process: Collecting, Processing, Preserving, and Providing Heritage for the Community
Oral history, sometimes called life history, offers a unique look into the lives of communities and the people who live in them. Oral history is a process where the interviewer asks questions about history from someone who actually experienced it. This historical person is called the interviewee. To qualify as the kind of oral history discussed here it must also be written down or recorded.
The first known example of oral history happened in ancient Greece. A historian named Thucydides interviewed survivors of the Peloponnesian wars. Since the earlier part of the 20th century oral historians have been able to provide a richer view of history and folkways by using the tape recorder.
The passing on of oral tradition has been an important part of many cultures for thousands of years. For example, in many West African cultures the Griot passed down the oral tradition to the next generation. As the keeper of the stories the Griot had a highly respected job.
As a member of the community, you have the opportunity to play an important role in the preservation of our heritage. Your creative work will form the foundation of the Olive B. McLin Community History Project collection at the Olive B. McLin Neighborhood Family Center. Interviews from this project will also contribute to the Oral History of Modern America in the USF Special Collections at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. On the following pages, you will find a brief outline to help you prepare for, conduct, and evaluate your oral history interviews.
© 1998-99 University of South Florida. All rights reserved.
© 1998-99 Design: Rochelle Lewis Lavin, St. Petersburg, FL. All rights reserved.