As any oral historian would contend, recording the life stories of interviewees is a process, a process which we had the privilege of piloting in early May. This pilot interview provided the opportunity to test our procedures and questions, while challenging us to troubleshoot along the way.
The list below outlines my reflections on the trial-run interview, which will enable us to refine the Project’s procedures for future interviews with English alumni:
- Record interviewees’ verbal consent at the beginning of the interview.
- Revise questions so they cannot be answered with a simple yes/no response.
- Include more questions about alumni time at Denison to encourage interviewees to think more critically about their time as an English major.
- At the conclusion of the interview, ask interviewees if they have any final thoughts and contributions.
- This includes a conversation about what selections (if any) interviewees’ would like edited from their life stories.
- Confirm that this is recorded on our films.
- Communicate to interviewees that the recording can be stopped and/or paused at any time.
- Ask interviewee’s how the role of literature shapes their relationships with other people, including parents, siblings, children, spouses, co-workers, friends, etc.?
- Allow interviewees’ time to craft their responses; communicate that it is absolutely acceptable to use a minute or two to collect one’s thoughts.
- Record everything! Leave the camera on and recording as much as possible.
- Tell interviewees’ how to access the interview recordings (likely through Google drive) for their review.