My Personal
FAMILY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
site: fohp.info - file: dayofint.htm

The Day of the Interview (β)

Don't forget to bring ...

     There are a number items that you will need to remember to bring along with you to the actual interview recording event (beyond just the audio equipment). You should bring along several fresh pads of paper and multiple (working) pens — not pencils — with which to take notes. Both the interviewer and the recording engineer will wind up taking notes during the course of the interview session(s). The interviewer will be scribbling down new questions to remember to ask after he has finished exploring an interesting tangent; the recording engineer should be keeping a log of the recording's contents — tape numbers, dates, times, names of those heard on the recordings, durations of each recording, etc.

     Also, it doesn't hurt to keep a bag of cough drops at-hand ... you never know when a throat tickle will turn into a hacking fit that won't stop without assistance.

Dress for Success.

     While we are not suggesting that you wear your business "power suit" or "Sunday go to meetin' clothes" we would strongly urge that the producer, interviewer and recording engineer dress in clean, comfortable, "respectable" clothing. All of your efforts to convince the interview subject that this project is not a waste of their time may well be undone by an individual that shows up in filthy, torn, or provocative clothing. SHOWER the morning of each day of interviewing (should we really have to say this?) Go easy on the makeup and lay off the perfumes, colognes, aftershaves ... don't show up reaking like an illegal chemical barrel dump. And, hold off on the "bling" — no jewelry is best; limited jewelry is acceptible if it doesn't distract or offend the subject (the blinking-eyes skull swastika pinky ring should be left at home).

The Devil is in the Details.

     A successful interview is one that has had careful, even meticulous, preparation. Checklists of items to bring & questions to ask are just the beginning. Once the equipment setup has been completed and prior to getting under way with the interview, the recording engineer should complete the labeling of each tape (or storage medium item) with the tape number, date, recording engineer name, etc.; eveything that will fit onto the tiny writing surface. The bulk of the necessary information should be recorded in a written log so that facts about the interview don't need to be reconstructed days, weeks or months after the event.

     Before the first tape rolls both the interviewer and the recording engineer should "sign off" on the release form that you will have all of the subjects sign (interviewer & engineer — all who's voices are heard on the recordings — will need to also complete this consent form). If the interview subject (or other "voice") fails to sign a release form (preferably before you've ever driven out to their home) you run the risk of doing the whole project for naught. Without that release form you will have no authority to duplicate the edited product and give it to other family members. If you were hoping to entrust the master recordings to a local library or genealogical society for inclusion in their collection you will probably be required to present the subject release along with the other interview materials ... no release form will mean that they will have no incentive to preserve those materials because they will not be able to make use of them in the future.

     The number of ways that one of these projects can go wrong is huge. Any single (seemingly) insignificant detail may completely derail a project or even abruptly (and permanently) end it. Attention to every detail that we have outlined here (and may be found in other genealogy websites) will help assure that your efforts are not wasted.


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Who Should Conduct The Interview?

    Page last updated
     12-17-2012