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Hear's My Story: Senior Voices in Greensboro

HEAR'S MY STORY, Senior Voices in Greensboro

Oral History 101

"Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day."
Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma" Moses

In recent years, historians have come to realize that some of the best insights about the past come from the people who were there. You just have to ask.

The following principles guided students while conducting the oral histories for Hear's My Story. If you decide to do an oral history project, here are some things to keep in mind:

WHO? Decide who you want to interview and find out if they are willing to participate.

WHAT? Make a list of questions to ask. What do you want to know?

miscrophone and recording equipment

WHERE? Set up your equipment in an area that's not too noisy, where you won't be interrupted. (You can't imagine how noisy air conditioning is when you put a microphone next to it!)

HOW? Before and during the interview, make sure your equipment works. If your recorder fails, you may never have a chance to record that amazing story again.

WHY? Oral historians are concerned with the stories people tell. Even if someone's memory isn't accurate, their story, along with the stories of others, can shine a different light on events.

BE FLEXIBLE! If a participant has an interesting story to tell, you might set aside the questions you planned to ask.

BE RESPECTFUL of the people you interview. That includes making sure they understand how their words might be used and preserved. What do you do with all the information you record?

SAVE IT! The oral histories conducted for this project will be housed in the archives at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

SHARE IT! Through projects like this exhibition, publications, or the internet, historians can share people's words with others.

To read more about what students' learned from the project, visit the Student Voices page.


The website contains student-created resources. The University Libraries makes no claim as to the accuracy of the views or information presented herein.