Oral History

In Their Own Words

Oral history is one of the most exciting and effective methods of documenting the human condition. By interviewing people about their firsthand experiences and knowledge, oral historians can record and preserve information and insights unavailable through other forms of research.

What Does Oral History Involve?

At its heart, oral history requires thoughtful questioning and attentive listening, but a successful project involves much more. Whether interviewing one person or thirty, we begin by developing a clear understanding of your project goals and the information you wish to document. Following standards and procedures adopted by the Oral History Association, we handle your oral history project from start to finish, crafting and completing the following components, as applicable:

  • release forms
  • preliminary subject research and identification of participants
  • recorded interviews
  • transcription
  • transcript and audio editing, if desired
  • coordination of transcript review and approval by person(s) interviewed
  • formatting and binding
  • production of digital files and audio CDs
  • preparation of materials for archival deposit

 

Sample Projects

The Midtown Oral History Project interviewed 30 individuals. Portraits by Patrick Cummings of Ten2Photo.

Midtown Oral History Project (completed 2016)

The Midtown Oral History Project, sponsored by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC), included interviews with 30 individuals with experiences and knowledge related to the stretch of Reno’s South Virginia Street currently known as Midtown. Participants included business owners and employees, current and former residents and others. Audio excerpts appear on Reno Historical. The full oral history transcripts and audio recordings are available here through the Special Collections Department of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

Our role: Entire project, from initial research and participant selection through interviewing, transcription, editing of transcripts and audio, and preparation of materials for archives.

View the oral histories at 4thPrater.onlinenevada.org. Portraits by Patrick Cummings of Ten2Photo.

4th Street-Prater Way Oral History Project (completed 2015)

This project, sponsored by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, interviewed 41 individuals with experience related to the 4th Street-Prater Way corridor through Reno and Sparks, Nevada. All oral history transcripts and audio excerpts can be found on the 4th Street-Prater Way History Website with excerpts appearing on Reno Historical. The full oral history transcripts and audio recordings will soon be available to the public through the Special Collections Department of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

Our role: Project direction and coordination; conducting 16 of the 41 interviews and training graduate students to interview the rest; editing & formatting of all transcripts; preparation of audio excerpts.

 

Need Training in Oral History Methods?

We can help! Our workshops carefully lead you through the process of conducting oral histories with your family, friends, or community group. We have led workshops and provided individually tailored oral history training and services for many local and state organizations including the following:

  • Nevada Office of Veterans Services
  • Nevada Women’s History Project
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
  • Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
  • State of Nevada Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Topics covered include selecting and operating recording equipment, writing release forms, crafting questions, conducting a successful interview, transcribing and editing for readability, processing recordings, and more.

Contact us to discuss your specific needs!