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Oral History: Interviewer Training & Support

The vision of the Oral History Archive is to create a forum in which the community is actively engaged in the interviewing process. To this end, we are recruiting, training, and supporting interviewers who can extend this project into their local communities. We welcome any volunteers. This web page is set up to provide interviewers with the prerequisite tools and the ongoing support to contribute to the Oral History Archive.

To participate as an interviewer you must first view the interviewer orientation module and familiarize yourself with the resources available on this web page.

(Orientation Module and web page are currently under development)
 
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Interview Guidelines
1. Customer satisfaction! This is a rather involved process and it will require considerable effort on the part of the interviewee (your customer). It is crucial that participation in the Community Legacy project is a rewarding and enjoyable experience for them. Make sure from the first contact to the last that they control scheduling, pace, content, and outcome of the interview. Be prepared to facilitate any reasonable request. Stay responsive and flexible. "Check in" regularly to make sure that all is well.
2. Rapport. Good stories are enhanced when you have a strong and deep working relationship with the interviewee. This is why we vigorously encourage interviewers to work from within their social network where possible. If the interviewee is not well known to you, take the time early on to engage in conversation and sharing a bit of your own story. During the course of the process, focus on your active listening skills.
3. Feedback. Be sure to keep the Clearinghouse and the interviewee abreast of progress and next steps.
4. Follow-through. Once you have agreed to be an interviewer, you are responsible for making sure that the process results in a suitable product, release forms are signed and filed, and on-loan recording equipment is returned safely and in a timely manner.
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The Oral History Interview Process



Step 1. Narrator Orientation

a. Provide Information: The Narrator needs to understand the scope of the process, the level of input that will be required of them, and our commitment to narrator-directed control of both process and product. The Interviewer introduces these topics verbally and in writing. The Legacy webpage provides a "Narrator Orientation" web page that the Interviewer can use to facilitate the discussion. We suggest that the Interviewer provide a "guided tour" of the Legacy portal that includes: visiting narrator web pages, sampling audio files and transcripts, and reviewing release forms.

b. Discuss and resolve questions: The Interviewer invites any questions that the Narrator may have and answers to the Narrator's satisfaction.

c. Solicit verbal agreement: Verify that the Narrator is still interested in proceeding.

d. Set up next steps/meeting: The Narrator is tasked with developing a short "Bio" and producing a digital photograph for her/his webpage. This data is sent as an attachment to an email to "[email protected]". Parties agree upon a future date for the first meeting. This meeting can be held in person, by phone, or through the internet.

Step 2. Establishing the Narrative

a. Publish Bio & Photo: Once the requested materials are sent to the Clearinghouse, a webpage will be created for the Narrator. The Narrator is free to send other documents to be posted as he/she sees fit.

b. Chronological Interview: The first interview begins with a discussion of how the Narrator came to be in the field. The interview proceeds chronologically and is not recorded for future publication, however it a recording may be requested for the Interviewers use in developing the semi-structured interview. In any case, the Interviewer will take some form of notes for later review and analysis.

c. Identifying critical incident(s): During the course of the chronological interview, the conversation will visit events of particular import to the Narrator. At these junctures, the Interviewer will lead the conversation into an exploration of the topic. The purpose is to have the Narrator evaluate the potential of the episode as a story of interest. Multiple topics should be generated before selection.

d. Choosing topic and approach: The initial interview concludes with the Narrator selecting among the potential topics.

e. Next steps: If additional documents or input from others is required to "flesh out" the Narrative, the Narrator and the Interviewer make arrangements to access these resources as necessary.

Step 3. Building the Narrative

a. Initial content interview: This initial pass over the topic serves to "warm" the Narrator to recollections surrounding the topic. The Interviewer sets the initial discussion based on what was agreed upon in the previous interview, and then engages very active listen skills. The focus for the Interviewer is to reveal the essentials of a story: (a) Who was the protagonist?, (b) what was the challenge?, (c) who were the actors and what were their motives? (d) how did the political/social/economic/psychological context play into the events?, (e) What did the various players do as the story progressed and why?, (f) How did the challenge resolve? (g) What are the consequences of this story for the present day? It is important that the Interviewer keep some form of notes based on this interview. As before, the interview is not recorded, but the Interviewer may request to record it for personal us in review and analysis.

b. Identify themes, missing information, sources etc.: The initial content interview concludes with a discussion of the Interviewer's impressions of themes, particularly powerful images or messages, and questions raised in the Interviewers mind. The Narrator responds accordingly.

c. Next steps: Construct an annotated semi-structured interview outline: The interviewer reviews their notes and recordings, and Outlines the interview topic with descriptive annotations. Questions that arise in the Interviewers mind are included inasmuch as they deepen the investigation of the topic at hand. This annotated semi-structured interview outline is shared with the Narrator prior to the formal interview. The Narrator retains final say over the content of the outline. Discussion prior to the formal interview is encouraged to insure that the Narrator is comfortable with, and prepared for the next step.

Step 4. Capture the Narrative

a. Review and sign release forms: Verbally review the main points of the release form. Witness the signing.

b. Verify release on recording: At the beginning of the recording, state the date, the name of the Narrator, the name of the interviewer, and thank them for agreeing to allow you to record the interview for the Legacy project.

c. Interview: Hold the interview in a quiet location free from distractions and interruptions. Check the recording equipment to make sure that recording levels are adequate and the device is in record mode. Use the semi-structured interview outline to frame the Narration, but feel free to explore further within the structure. At this point the Interviewer role is primarily to facilitate the flow of the Narration; Interviewer should minimize input where possible, until the story has been told. Free exchange between the Narrator and the Interviewer at the conclusion is encouraged inasmuch as it reflects on new impressions or themes or provides a synthesis of the topic.

Step 5. Narrative Review

a. Post audio file & transcript (with password): Send files to the Clearinghouse. If email is used, send as an attachment to "[email protected]". These files will be posted on the Narrators webpage which has been password-protected. The clearinghouse will contact the Interviewer and Narrator once this has been accomplished.

b. Narrator review: The Narrator must indicate that they have reviewed the recording/narrative and agree that it can be published. The Interviewer will notify the Clearinghouse accordingly.

Step 6. Publish Interview

a. Submit release forms: The Interviewer mails the original release forms to the Clearinghouse and should make copies for their files.

b. Return equipment: Return on-loan equipment to the Clearinghouse. If shipped, package as if fragile and insure contents.

c. Remove password protection: With the Narrator's approval, the password protection will be lifted and the interview will be in the public domain. The Interviewer should remind the Narrator that they can ask to have the interview removed from the web page at any time.



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Current Interviewers

Michael Millington
6524 Old Main Hill
Logan UT 84322
michael.millingto[email protected]usu.edu