How to Read This Guide

This guide should be a useful tool to help your journey through oral history be a smoother ride. It is not a code of laws that dictates everything you should do, but rather it is written from experience and should be treated as such. This guide has two main purposes:

First, it is a practical tool to guide you through the process. If you've never done oral history before, this guide will get you started and inform you of both how we approached problems, and also how we expect some of them to be solved. It should answer many of your practical questions as well as hopefully give you some encouragement through this beast of a project.

Second, it is here to remind you of the human component of oral history. Humanity is the driving force of this project, and it is important that this mindset continue through every step of oral history--from conceiving of an interview through the final draft of a transcript. If we just used AI to do the work for us, we wouldn't need this guide as a tool.

Each subsequent section of this guide is broken into four sub-sections: an introduction, purpose, important stuff, and a summary.


A handy way to introduce you to the topic.


Explains why this section of the guide is important. If you're in conflict with something that this guide says, the purpose section will help you determine why it is that we created a particular arbitrary rule and what we're hoping to achieve with it. You can bend the rules, but the purpose and spirit of the project must remain intact.

Important Stuff

It's the stuff that's important, written in prose with a bit of explanation. If you're having trouble understanding something, this part would probably be beneficial to read.


Essentially this is a "too long; didn't read" section. It's the important stuff distilled into a more readable format to be used as a quick reference.

I'd recommend you read through every section, even if it's just to catch the summary.