voice recorder phone app

Oral History Interviews with Family or Friends

Oral histories are a vital resource for historical researchers. Our own family and friends, especially those that are older, can provide invaluable insight into the history of our communities. With a little planning and practice almost anyone can produce valuable oral histories for preservation.

Try recording an interview with a family member or friend about their life experiences. There are countless questions you can use for an oral history interview and you should keep in mind who the person is that you are interviewing. Here are some general questions to help you start:

  • What is your name and where were you born? (important to set the scene)
  • Tell me about your family history. How did you end up living where you live now?
  • Tell me some of your childhood memories.
  • Where did you attend school? Where have you worked?
  • What was your community like when you were a kid? How has it changed?
  • What are difficult times you remember from the past? What are the best times that you remember?

For some interview examples, check out audio clips from our Oral History Collection.

To make the recording, you don’t need any special equipment. You can just use apps for your phone, like Voice Memos, which is built into all iPhones. Here are some recording tips from Vermont Folklife Center. Be sure to do a test recording before starting the interview to make sure the sound quality is good.

When you’re done with the interview, think about sharing it with us! Contact archivist/librarian Michelle Tom at mtom@windsorhistoricalsociety.org and let her know about it!

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