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SOCW 375: Human Behavior and the Family Life Course

Resources for completing assignments and projects in SOCW 375.

What are Oral Histories?

"Oral History collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. An oral history interview generally consists of a well-prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee and recording their exchange in audio or video format."
Ritchie, Donald A. (2003). Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide.2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 19

Oral History Best Practices

The Oral History Association provides a list of best practices to guide you through the interview process from start to finish. You can also review Barbara Truesdell's Oral History Techniques: How to Organize and Conduct Oral History Interviews for additional information. 


Professors Joanna Bornat and Jenny Harding define oral history and explain how it can be used to learn about both the past and the present in this short video (~9 minutes). They stress the importance of avoiding direct questions that might alienate an interviewee, and discuss the fallibility of memory.

Recommendations on Oral History Questions