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  • 1.  Oral History Input/Output

    Posted 07-28-2022 12:25 PM


       I have a question regarding oral history programs. People are generally enthusiastic to interview or donate an oral history interview to an oral history collection. However, we find that generally people are not interested in the work required to make that oral history interview available to the public including accession, preservation, cataloging, transcription, publication, and access. This usually results in a backlog of unprocessed interviews. What methods, techniques, practices, or tools do you use to ensure that an oral history program strikes a healthy balance between raw intake and publication?

       I appreciate any advice you can give.




    Christopher L. Kolakowski


    Wisconsin Veterans Museum

    Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs

    30 W. Mifflin St.

    Madison WI 53703



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  • 2.  RE: Oral History Input/Output

    Posted 07-29-2022 10:07 AM

    I have worked with oral history collections at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. The short answer is that you have to allocate resources to process oral histories the same way you do any other item you're accessioning Into the collection.

    The longer answer is that you need to develop the same kind of cataloguing standards and procedures you would for any collections object, so that any staff member or volunteer who is trained can follow them to produce similar quality results in your database. You'll need to budget time for someone to catalogue an interview - usually longer than it takes for an object or photograph. (And it helps to budget time for another set of eyes to review the new record, if it's going online.)  And you'll need a budget to cover the cost of digitizing and transcribing it, as well as the cost of digital storage and backup. 

    Some of this work can be done by trained volunteers but the initial groundwork must be laid out by your collections staff.

    I would be happy to talk with you in more detail. Good luck with your oral history cataloguing project!

    Lindsey Richardson

    Lindsey Richardson