The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP), founded in 1973, documents the stories of individuals across the American South with its extensive oral history collection. The histories are housed at the Southern History Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as part of the Center for the Study of the American South. Today, the SOHP provides an amazing opportunity for collaboration between historians, archivists, and researchers. Not only do they continue to gather important stories of the South, the SOHP also hosts a well-known podcast. Press Record — “a podcast about the joys and challenges of learning history by talking to those who lived it” — is an amazing resource for those of us continuing to learn how to conduct oral histories. The Nuevas Raíces: Voces de Carolina del Norte project is also a product of an SOHP collaboration with the Latino Migration Project and the UNC University Libraries.
[True] Stories was lucky to help bring historian Rachel Seidman and archivist Jaycie Vos to Davidson College for a discussion with students of Professor Kelly and Professor Christian Lamb’s Oral History course. We hope you enjoy this recording of their wonderful talk about oral history methods, Nuevas Raíces,and their experiences working for the Southern Oral History Project!
On November 16, [True] Stories hosted a wonderful talk by Daniel Horowitz Garcia, the Southeast regional manager of StoryCorps. Horowitz Garcia, who is based in Atlanta, came to Rollins for this interactive talk during which participants learned about the motivation (and beauty) behind a media company facilitating oral histories interviews, as well as how to be better interviewers themselves. We live streamed this talk via the [True] Stories YouTube Channel, and you can watch it below. Enjoy!
HistoryPin is a unique non-profit website designed to allow people to connect and share pieces of history by virtually pinning them to the HistoryPin map. For example, below is an 1890 photograph of Rollins College that was pinned to Winter Park, Florida by the Winter Park Public Library.
Photographs, video, audio content can all be pinned to the map. Together, these can form incredible collections that tell the story of a place, pulling a single point out from a map and showing its passage through time.
Anyone can create an account with HistoryPin and start building their own collection. This is especially useful for those who are working on oral history projects that are tied to a specific location–for example, our students who are exploring topics related to their particular campuses.
To upload audio or video content, follow these steps (adapted from the HistoryPin FAQs
Upload your audio or video clip to YouTube
Make sure your video is listed as public
Click the “share” button under the video on YouTube. Check the “long link” box and copy the link.
Log in or create a HistoryPin account
Click ‘Pin’ and select ‘Video’ or ‘Audio’ and drop in the link
Add a title, date, and location (the date and location can be approximate)
Don’t forget to save!
Once material has been pinned to the map, descriptive content (what you may have heard us refer to as “metadata”) or narrative content can also be added. In fact, you can add descriptive or narrative content to anything on the HistoryPin map, even if you didn’t add it yourself. This creates a rich opportunity for people to increase the communal knowledge about particular places and digital objects–for example, you may find a photo or video on HistoryPin which you know more about than the person who originally added it!
Remember: If you are posting content from an oral history interview, make sure you have permission from the person you interviewed before making their interview public. If you do have permission but don’t have a YouTube account, don’t forget that if you created content as part of a class participating in the [True] Stories Project, we are happy to post your interview to our YouTube channel. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Recently, Hannah Wiatt Davis of Florida State University spoke with Rachel Walton about audio preservation and curating oral history collections. Davis is an Archives Assistant and Audio Preservation Specialist at FSU, and [True] Stories is so grateful to have had her insight. Please listen to this recording of the conversation, and be sure to download the slides from the presentation as well.
If you’ve worked in a library or archive at a larger institution, you may have gotten the opportunity to use Glifos Social Media to present indexed oral histories. With Glifos Social Media (which is part of a suite of Glifos tools useful to libraries). One of the most useful features of oral history indexing is the ability to timestamp transcripts so that, with one click, a user can find the location they want in a transcript and navigate to that exact moment in the audio or video file.
This is incredibly useful for researchers who use oral histories, but until recently, only available to institutions or organizations that can afford to pay to implement programs like Glifos–and even though you can choose which Glifos products to purchase, you might still be paying for tools you don’t actually need. For smaller organizations creating oral histories, this has been an impediment to presenting their content in useful, researcher-friendly formats.
Fortunately, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky created the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) to provide indexing tools specifically geared toward the needs of oral historians. Originally used only within the University of Kentucky system, the Nunn Center received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to make the OHMS free and open source. Now, it can be used as a plug-in with any number of content management systems such as Omeka (which is also free and open-source) or ContentDM.
OHMS allows you to index oral history interviews with the following data:
Partial or full Transcript
Segment Title (required)
By time-stamping the interview, linking it to a transcript, and providing keywords and subject headings, oral historians make it much easier for researchers to find oral histories, as well as locate relevant moments within those histories. OHMS is also useful because it allows the researcher to switch between the partial transcript–short descriptions of each segment of the interview, with keywords and other relevant metadata–or the full transcript, if they need more specific information about the contents of the interview.
Obviously, someone has to go to the trouble of creating all of this metadata, but fortunately the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History has made it quite simple to do the majority of work within the OHMS. And since it is open-source, designed by-and-for people who work with oral histories, there is a significant amount of documentation available all over the web to help beginners understand how to use the OHMS effectively. Check out our Library to find links to some of this documentation, or watch the video below for a great tutorial that explains how to create high quality metadata while indexing oral histories with the OHMS.
As always, visit our Toolboxto learn about other great tools to support oral history work!
Anthropology News recently featured an interview with Dr. Brenda Sendejo about the Latina History Project at Southwestern, which is headed by Sendejo and Dr. Alison Kafer. Sendejo, a Chicana feminist anthropologist, partnered with the [True] Stories Project in the spring of 2016, and Kafer is currently partnering with us for her class, “Feminist and Queer Activisms.” Charlotte Nunes, a former PI of the [True] Story Project, also worked on the Latina History Project while she was a postdoc fellow at Southwestern. We are so proud to be associated with these dedicated historians and researchers. Please check out the interview with Sendejo and her student, Tori Vasquez, to learn more about the Latina History Project and the impact it has had.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our live demo of the StoryCorps app. For those of you who missed it, below is a brief outline of what we covered in the demo.
Jane Field explained the StoryCorps App and all it’s features.
Rachel Walton showed how to post your content from StoryCorps to the blog.
Scott Bokash went over how to create a clip of your interview in MediaSpace and post it to the blog.
You can also watch the entire recording here:
StoryCorps has a step-by-step guide to downloading an unpublished interview from your phone to your computer using either an iPhone or an Android.
[A final note: In our demo, we didn’t mention that you can also create a custom question list in the StoryCorps.me web browser using the Question Generator–which you can then send to the email address associated with your StoryCorps account. This would be useful for sending the question list to your interview subject in advance so that they can have time to prepare thoughtful responses to your questions.]
We would like to invite anyone to join us remotely for this live demo of the StoryCorps app by accessing the link below. The Story Corps App is intended to help anyone prepare for, organize, conduct, save, and share their own oral history interviews with the world. In this live demonstration archivists Rachel Walton and Jane Field will explain all the features of the Story Corps mobile app as well as the StoryCorps.me web interface in an effort to provide a general overview of the tool. After the live demo of the app and web interface, Rachel and Jane will field questions from attendees via the chat window that might relate to assignment requirements, experienced roadblocks, or technical troubleshooting. The entire demo and discussion will be recorded and posted online afterwards for the benefit of the whole community. Questions can be directed to Jane Field (email@example.com) at any time before or after the demo.
TIME: Sep 22, 2016, 1:00-1:45PM Eastern Standard Time (US and Canada)
Jonathan Miller, Director of the Olin Library at Rollins College, talks about issues of copyright in oral histories. Miller’s main takeaways? Plan ahead and get it in writing. Watch/listen to his webinar below for tips on how to navigate the murky waters of copyright.
What are some of the copyright basics that we need to be familiar with as people who are going into oral history work?
Who controls the copyright of the interview if it is technically a tangible, fixed work?
In today’s world of the internet, does it matter if an oral history product is available online or not?
What happens if there is a consent form saying the material will be stored in a digital repository, but it doesn’t specify how that material might be used in the future?
Potential commercial value or profit often plays into people’s choices to provide access, and if it’s content that could be potentially profitable — say somebody with a high profile — that kind of complicates things. How does this relate to personality rights — the idea of somebody’s public persona being controlled?
What about when someone wants to remain anonymous, or remain anonymous up to a certain point?
Thanks so much to Jonathan for this enlightening talk!
As Rachel posted a few days ago, the StoryCorps app is a great way for anyone to start creating oral histories. The app is easy and intuitive (so don’t be afraid to jump right in!) but here are a few pointers to get you started.
First of all, you’ll need to download the StoryCorps app and create an account, where you’ll be able to save your recorded interviews even if you don’t publish them online. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll have two options: Prepare an Interview, or Record and Interview. By clicking “Prepare an Interview” you can create a blueprint for the interview so that when you sit down to record, you’re all ready.
Creating a Question List
For each interview, you can create a custom set of questions in advance (you’ll be able to access the questions during your interview). StoryCorps has a ton of great prompts, organized by categories (like questions for parents or grandparents, etc), and you can write your own–no matter what, you won’t get stuck in the middle of an interview. Also, you can also build question lists via the StoryCorps website! This is a great option if you are more comfortable writing questions at your computer instead of your phone, or if you don’t have access to the app but still want to take advantage of StoryCorps’ great prompts. A bonus feature? If you build your questions on the website, you can email the final list to your interviewee in advance.
Recording Your Interview
Try to arrange to record your interview in a quiet, private space, where you and your interviewee will be free to talk and the sound will record clearly. Once you are recording, your interview questions will appear one at at time, and you can scroll through them. You can mark the spot in the recording where the question was asked by clicking the thumbtack icon, and mark special moments by clicking the star icon.
Finishing Your Interview
After you stop recording, the StoryCorps App will prompt you to fill in more information, like the title, names of participants, and keywords. You can also create and save excerpts of the interview if there are specific parts you want to highlight. Finally, you can choose to either publish your interview to StoryCorps.me, or save it to your device.
StoryCorps Pro Tips:
Create a custom question list that can be circulated to collect interviews around a certain theme.
Use keywords to tag interviews and make them more searchable once they are published.
Use a naming convention (Such as “True Stories: Jane and John”) to better organize your interviews. This will help if you end up with a large collection of interviews, or create a number of interviews around a certain topic.
Use StoryCorps as a team: create a single-user account for a group to use to collect interviews.