by Jennifer Eidson
Preservation activities involving tangible memories such as photographs or handwritten letters are so important to preserve one’s experience whether it’s a family photo, a hike through the Grand Canyon, or a Crossing the Line initiation in the United States Navy.
When it comes to preserving someone’s intangible personal memories, one of the most effective preservation strategies is to conduct an oral history interview. But, what is that? According to the Society of American Archivists (SAA), it is “an interview that records an individual's personal recollections of the past and historical events.”
There are many organizations around the country that record oral history interviews for the sake of history. There are also many people who record interviews on their own for their families.
Preservation Week offers these resources to those families, who know that a family member has had a unique or incredible experience in their life. Recording an oral history interview is one of the best ways to document those experiences so future generations can learn and benefit from them.
Jennifer Eidson has been a member of SAA’s Oral History Section for six years as a steering committee member helping with many section activities, such as conference session plans and newsletters, and is currently serving as Section Chair. Her background also includes five years processing oral history collections at the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. Currently she is working as an Archivist at the University of Maryland Special Collections. (2013)
Conducting Oral Histories with Family Members
Oral History Association (OHA)
Web Guides to Doing Oral History
Texas Historical Commission
Fundamentals of Oral History
YRDSB Museum & Archives
Conducting an Oral History Interview (video)