Oral History Interviews

Link to oral history interview questions

A little guidance–Because every individual is unique, there is no single set of questions that will fit every person. The questions on our list are provided to help guide an interview with a relative or community member about family folklore or local traditions. There are far too many questions here for even a lengthy interview.  Pick and choose among them to suit the situation, and change the wording as you see fit. Don’t overwhelm the subject or yourself with too many questions.  Likely, each question and your followups will lead to a conversation that will help you understand your subject more than any formal set of questions.

Take notes!  Modern technology allows easy recording and preservation of audio and video.  Future generations of your family or community will be forever grateful for the chance to see or hear the interview.

There are questions on our list that can be asked of any subject, and some that are designated as specific to parents, grandparents, teachers, and military veterans.  Be aware that many veterans with combat experience prefer not to talk about their service for a variety of reasons.  The questions on our list are very general and do not ask things that might be upsetting.  Be respectful of our heroes when you broach the subject.

Share the guide questions you will ask with the subject ahead of time if possible.

Remember not to be tied to the list of questions, and definitely do not use it as a checklist.  Rather use your questions as guideposts for the interview, listen carefully and ask follow-up questions. Be flexible and have fun!

Link to oral history interview questions