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Oral History Workshop series syllabus

8701 Calumet Avenue


with Sam Love

This workshop series is a part of the Creative Aging fellowship and is sponsored by Lifelong Arts and the Indiana Arts Commission. Free and open to all.

Location and Time:

Munster Branch of the Lake County Public Library

8701 Calumet Avenue

Thursdays, February 29 - April 4

10:30am - no later than noon

Workshop leader:

Sam Love

samuelalove219 @

This workshop series will teach a complete process for conducting oral history-style interviews. Attendance at each workshop is advised but not mandatory.

Session Outlines:

WEEK 1 - February 29 - Introductions and Defining The Topic

Skill Building Goal: Learning oral history best practices and historical thinking, and developing social research strategies for finding willing and relevant respondents.

Social Engagement Goal: To get to know each other as a class.

Brief Description of Class Plans: This section considers the factoring of time, place, and circumstances to create streamlined, clear, and concise project ideas.

WEEK 2 - March 7 - Crafting Open-Ended Questions and Securing Permissions

Skill Building Goal: Learning to craft questions that generate honest, clear, original, and vivid responses. Developing strategies to make the often tricky issue of getting permission to record someone easier.

Social Engagement Goal: To consider ethical manners of engaging with respondents.

Brief Description of Class Plans: In this section we begin crafting a set of basic, general, and open-ended questions with the intention of sharing with potential respondents. We will also discuss tips and best practices for engaging with potential respondents, framed around a discussion of ethical considerations.

WEEK 3 - March 14 - Preparing Your Equipment

Skill Building Goal: Learning the basics of current recording equipment, stressing the necessity of having the equipment in working order before the interview, knowing what equipment and materials are useful for conducting a successful interview.

Social Engagement Goal: To have strategies for developing trust and comfort between the interviewer and respondent. To understand potential reservations respondents might have and how to respect that.

Brief Description of Class Plans: This section offers an overview of basic AV recording equipment and file storage systems. Special attention is paid to the equipment the team has available.

WEEK 4 - March 21 - Interviewing

Skill Building Goal: Sharpening our listening skills and situational awareness, applying these in a live interviewing session.

Social Engagement Goal: Same as above, and I always joke that here is where we learn to ask a question and then shut up.

Brief Description of Class Plans: This section considers best practices and ethical considerations for conducting a successful oral history interview with a special focus on various listening skills: active, critical, empathetic. We will end by discussing the immediate post-interview steps of saving the recording, preparing for transcription, and following-up with the respondent about next steps.

WEEK 5 - March 28 - Transcription and Editing

Skill Building Goal: Developing strategies to lessen the burden of transcription while maintaining accuracy. Discussion of current technologies and transcription apps. Basic line and copy editing skills and best practices.

Social Engagement Goal: Stress the importance of continued collaboration with the respondent.

Brief Description of Class Plans: This section stresses the importance of creating an accurate transcription; tips and technologies for streamlining this tedious process. We discuss best practices for working with the respondent to create a manuscript from the transcription.

WEEK 6 - April 4 - Preservation and Accessibility

Skill Building Goal: Familiarity with archives and repositories in Northwest Indiana. Understanding of issues around preservation and technology. Knowledge of available publishing options, including self-publishing in print and online.

Social Engagement Goal: Help the student know how to give their work life after the interview is done. Gaining public attention for ones work (if such is desired.)

Brief Description of Class Plans: This concluding section discusses options for archiving and publishing the results of an oral history project.

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