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Record an Oral History

Record an Oral History

Have you ever wanted to record the stories your family members or friends tell about their childhoods, but never really had the time? The Oklahoma Historical Society has shared the below message with us and we wanted to share!

"Now is your chance to make that wish a reality. Oral histories are audio or video recordings of people that detail their lives, the lives of their families, their work, places they lived, town histories, military service, and life in general. Think of oral histories as audio/video diaries or photo albums. Capturing this family history for future generations is a great way to, as the Oklahoma Historical Society's mission states, "collect, preserve, and share" history.

Take advantage of the extra time you may have at home to sit down with a family member and record their accounts of days gone by. You could also record your family's experiences during our current historical moment—the COVID-19 pandemic. Future generations will wonder how we reacted to this unique time in history, and the oral histories you record could be valuable research material!

People of all ages, young and old, can create oral histories. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1) Obtain a device to capture the audio or video, which can be as simple as a smart phone.

2) Create a list of questions prior to the interview—below is a sample list:

  • Interviewee's first and last name
  • Interviewer's first and last name
  • Date and place of interview
  • Where and when were you born?
  • What are the names of your parents, your partner/spouse, children?
  • Where did you go to school, live, work, serve in the military?
  • Tell us about some of your most happy memories as a kid, adult, parent.

Other topics could include: firsts (job, car, etc.), politics, religion, technology, economics, race relations, health, trends, advice to future generations, life timelines, major events, and how the recent COVID-19 pandemic has changed life in the past months.

3) Once you begin asking the questions, the interview may go in all directions and that is good. Let the interviewee feel comfortable as you guide them with the questions. Most of all, enjoy your time together—some interviews last 45 minutes and some last hours.

4) Finally, contact the Oklahoma Historical Society Research Center to place a copy of the interview in our collections for safekeeping. The OHS is the perfect repository to place these oral history family treasures after they have been captured. We will send you a release form and a gift agreement to be signed by the interviewee and interviewer, which allows the OHS to add the oral history to our collections and share it with future generations. For more information about OHS oral histories, please click here."

Contact DDCO
2401 NW 23rd St, Ste. 74
Oklahoma City, OK 73107

405-521-4984
Fax: 405-521-4910
Email: staff@okddc.ok.gov

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