1. Be reassuring to the interviewee and be aware that when telling life stories, memories and emotions may surface (joy, sadness, tears, anger). Respect the interviewees' feelings and be gentle.
  2. The interviewee may be apprehensive about the taping equipment you are using. The interviewer may need to show how the tape recorder/video equipment, etc. works to make the interviewee feel more comfortable.


Tape recorder
Extra cassette tapes - more than you think you will need
Extra batteries for the recorder
Two extension cords, 15" or longer
Towel to fold over the external microphone to muffle noises
Pad to take notes (write down extra questions not on your list)
Your list of questions
Watch or clock (if it doesn't tick too loudly)


The Oral History Association suggests the following guidelines for the interviewer:

  1. Interviewer should ask questions with respect for human dignity and should guard against exploitation of the interviewee. Don't ask questions that may hurt the interviewee's feelings or give out information that he/she has asked you not to use.
  2. Interviewees should be selected on the basis of being able to give correct information.
  3. The interviewer should know as much about the interviewee as possible and be able to ask opened ended questions so that the interviewee will give more than a yes or no answer.
  4. Interviewer should let the interviewee know how the interview is to be used.

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November 1999