Since I last posted on here, the James Farmer Group has been working hard to develop a plan of action for the rest of the semester. As mentioned in the video that I made, we will be conducting interviews with former students of James Farmer. In preparation for these interviews, I have decided to research the best practices for conducting Oral Histories.
One of the best resources for discovering information on this topic is the Principles and Best Practices Guide, created by the Oral History Association. In my Intro to Public History class, we spent an extensive amount of time looking at this document. In this document, it suggests that prior to conducting an interview, a student should do extensive research into the subjects that the oral history will address. In preparing for this, I have spent some time looking at the James Farmer Collection, housed in Special Collections. In one of the boxes, there are multiple copies of his syllabus and exams from when he was teaching his Intro to the Civil Rights course. The guide also talks about developing a list of questions to be asked during the interview. In order to come up with strong, open-ended questions, my Intro to Public History class conducted practice interviews concerning people’s opinions of Valentine’s Day. Another thing the guide advises is to make sure one is listening attentively. This is important as it allows the interviewer to develop follow up remarks or questions to the interviewee’s responses.
Upon completion of the interview, it is essential that the interviewer gets the interviewee to sign a release form. This ensures that the interviewer is protected from potential legal issues that could follow. After the transcription is complete, another release form is needed in order to prevent any further legal issues. These are a few things that I look forward to incorporating into our interviews. I hope to consult Professor Devlin, an oral historian, on other practices and mannerisms that are beneficial to the interview process.