Individual Oral Interview from Their Birth Moving Forward STEP I: Preparation
Before beginning the interview process it is recommended that you develop a list of interview questions.
These may be added to as needed while conducting the interview. You may need periodically ask specific questions to elicit more details, clarity or additional information. You may also find it helpful to develop your questions for specific time periods which will depend on the age of your interviewee.
Individual Oral Interview from Their Birth Moving Forward For example:
Start your interview of the individual from their birth moving forward. Assume that the audiences you are writing to reach are ignorant of your subject matter. In addition, familiarize yourself with what was happening during that decade and subsequent decades and develop questions about major events that occurred and how the individual and/or their family community was affected and what their personal feelings and views were. How did individuals in his/her community react? Did they respond to certain events during that time? If so, how? What was life like growing up where they did for them?
Individual Oral Interview from Their Birth Moving Forward STEP II: Taping
Get interviewee’s permission to tape the interview. Allow sufficient time for taping. To get as much information as possible try to schedule at least two (2) one hour sessions. More if possible, remember to allow yourself enough time transcribe and write your paper. It is important not to overwhelm your interviewee, especially if it is a senior. Also, you must be prepared to refocus the individual if they have a tendency to stray from your question or topic being discussed.
Your major role will be to direct and guide the form which the final narrative will take and to ensure that it contains as much of the informant’s past and his/her life views of the past as possible. The form of your oral history narrative should be autobiographical. If you listen carefully you will find the natural points at which the narrative can be broken to allow you to ask more specific questions or question particular usages of languages, i.e.: You stated that your father was both kindhearted and mean spirited. “What do mean by that?” “Any examples?” Moreover, do not get trapped by questions: Avoid yes or no answers to questions.
Individual Oral Interview from Their Birth Moving Forward STEP III: Questions
- When and where was the interviewee born? Did both parents reside in the household? What kinds of relationships did they have with their parents? Did they have siblings or were they an only child? Depending on which one, if they could have a do-over would they change anything? Why or Why not?
- How did their family celebrate holidays such as Easter, Halloween, Christmas, Religious Holidays, etc.? What did summer vacations entail?
- What was the elementary school experience like? Was the student body racially and ethnically diverse? Was the faculty racially and ethnically diverse? What were some of the most popular classes? Were the interviewees close to any teachers? How were students disciplined? What did students do for fun? In other words, what were some of the most popular games they played?
Early Tweens the to Early Twenties & Beyond
- What did the high school experience entail? Were the student body and faculty racially and ethnically diverse? What was the curriculum at the school like? Was your interviewee a good not? What was discipline at the school like?
- What did you interviewee and friends do to have fun? Were there specific places to go to listen to music and dance? What were some of the most popular dances, songs, singers?
- What was fashion like? How has it evolved over time? What were some of the most popular T.V. programs and movies at the time?
- What do they recall about major historical events such as, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert F. Kennedy, as well as the Vietnam War, the Challenger disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the Newtown slaughter of kids, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, and of course, 9/11?
- What about the evolution of the TV?
- What about the evolution of the telephone?
- What about the evolution of the computer?
*Other areas of inquiry could include sports and politics.
Individual Oral Interview from Their Birth Moving Forward STEP IV: Transcription
When transcribing, write word for word what the interviewee relates. It is important to remember when editing not to change the idea or message the interviewee is trying to impart. Correct grammar is needed but tries to leave as much as possible as told by the interviewee so it will remain his/her story.
Individual Oral Interview from Their Birth Moving Forward STEP V: Writing the Paper
When writing your paper, be sure to give historical background, chronologically, preceding each series of questions that relate to a different time period. This will provide a structure and coherence to the overall interview.
Please use at least 5-7 secondary to provide historical context for your interview narrative. If you like, you can exceed that number. Cite sources within the body of your paper. Your paper should be 8-12 typed double-spaced pages. It also should be written in the form of a narrative. A mere transcription such as question and answer is not adequate. Any papers submitted in this form will be given a grade of F. Make sure you have fun throughout the whole process of your assignment. It will be an enriching and learning experience.
THE REQUIREMENT IS ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS IN STEP III!