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Make a Permanent Recording

Make a permanent recording of your interview Unless captured on audio or video tape, oral histories are ethereal...words are gone as soon as they are spoken. With a taped oral history you have not only the sound of the person's voice, but their inflection, gestures, and so on. A recorded oral history is a powerful piece of information: the personal interpetation of events can give researchers much information. Make no mistake, however, in assuming that the oral history will be subjective, or even true!

This lesson will deal with the type of oral histories conducted by genealogists with the goal of gathering biographical or family history information. Generally speaking, the younger generation interviews older family members, although that situation can be reversed. The interviewer will prompt the interviewee to answer questions designed to give either specific information, or to evoke memories. A good interview question does both. Most oral histories are either recorded on audio tape or video tape. After the interview, the oral history can be transcribed to a written document, saved on the recording medium for further reference, or both.

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