Oral history is a method of gathering and preserving the voices of people and communities to document past events. Oral history interviews are conducted by trained researchers questioning interviewees and recording their conversation in audio or video formats. Recordings are then transcribed, summarizes, and indexed so they can be preserved in an archive. These interviews provide insight into the lived experiences of individuals and are especially valuable for communities that have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in the telling of history—communities that might otherwise not appear in the documentary record.
Oral histories are still being collected. Those that have been collected to date are currently undergoing a review process by those who have been interviewed.
All Perry House Oral Histories Project researchers receive training in oral history before beginning their interviews. Currently this includes training provided by our professional staff, as well as the Science History Institute’s Oral History Training course.
Following their training, researchers contact Bryn Mawr College alum, faculty, and staff via email to gauge interest in participating in the project. Interested interviewees are given copies of Bryn Mawr College Oral History Consent and Release Forms to review and sign. Interviews are currently scheduled via video conferencing software such as Zoom. Although interviewees and interviewers will be able to see each other, only audio is recorded.
The researchers meet with interviewees at a jointly agreed upon time to conduct the interview. After the interview is recorded, researchers transcribe the interview and share the completed transcription and recording with interviewees for review. Interviewees may make changes to the transcript, request that parts or the whole of their interview be redacted, or sign off on the interview as it stands. Oral histories are only made public after this review process is complete.
All oral histories collected by the Perry House Histories Project are preserved in the Bryn Mawr College Archives.
Interested in seeing what our Consent and Research Forms look like? Click below to download and view.