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Oral History Background Research
Background research is essential preparation for conducting oral history interviews. It ensures the interviewer is not only familiar with the narrator (interviewee) but also the subject matter prior to the recorded interview. Researching subject matter ahead of time provides the appropriate context for the cultural and/or historical significance of the interview, informs the interview questions, and shapes the tone of the conversation.
From the OHA Best Practices: "In preparing to ask informed questions, interviewers should become familiar with the person, topic, and historical context by doing research in primary and secondary sources, as well as through social engagement with individuals and communities and informal one-on-one interactions."
Considerations for Background Research:
- Narrator demographics (who, what, when, where, how)
- Lived experiences of the narrator
- Incidents and events of historical significance
- Unique perspective and testimony
Resources for Background Research:
- Published accounts (books, newspapers, online resources, other interviews...)
- Unpublished accounts (military records, diaries, letters, writings...)
- Objects and artifacts (photographs, memorabilia, awards...)
Special Collections Resources: Search or Browse
Books from Our Catalog
Recording Oral History by In this second editon of Recording Oral History, Valerie Raleigh Yow builds on the foundation of her classic text. One of the most widely used and highly regarded textbooks ever published in the field, Yow's updated edition now includes new material on using the internet, an examination of the interactions between oral history and memory processes, and analysis of testimony and the interpretation of meanings in different contexts. Written in a clear, accessible style, this new volume offers historians, social scientists and other practitioners engaged in this difficult, rewarding work a scholarly and practical guide to the methods of oral history. It will interest researchers and students in a wide variety of disciplines including history, sociology, anthropology, education, psychology, social work and ethnographic methods.
Publication Date: 2005-04-07
The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research by The new edition of this landmark volume emphasizes the dynamic, interactional and reflexive dimensions of the research interview. Contributors highlight the myriad dimensions of complexity that are emerging as researchers increasingly frame the interview as a communicative opportunity as much as a data-gathering format. The book begins with the history and conceptual transformations of the interview, which is followed by chapters that discuss the main components of interview practice. Taken together, the contributions to the Handbook encourage readers simultaneously to learn the frameworks and technologies of interviewing and to reflect on the epistemological foundations of the interview craft.
Publication Date: 2012-02-14
Border Studies Archive
The Border Studies Archive, a part of the University Library (Edinburg), houses collections focused on the folklore, histories and lives of people living along the U.S.-Mexican border in South Texas.
Search History Databases
The library provides access to over 40 history databases to help online users find primary sources, such as newspaper and archival documents, as well as scholarly articles and books.