University of Florida Homepage

Tutorials: Beginning an Oral History Project

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program offers workshops in oral history practice, methodology and fieldwork for community groups, academic institutions, and other organizations interested in beginning oral history projects.

Introduction to Oral History from Dr. Paul Ortiz

Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, prepared the following outlines to conducting successful oral history projects: “8 Steps,” an oral history project handout, and “Oral History Workshop,” which provides an overview of interviewing skills and practice, focusing on humility and empathy.

8 Steps

Image of 8 Steps PDF“8 Steps” outlines eight main benchmarks to conducting an oral history project, including basic groundwork, interview preparation, background research, and working to ensure community access to oral history resources.

  • Starting on an oral history project: deciding on scope, scale, and themes
  • Personal and/or institutional motivations
  • Laying the groundwork
  • Interview preparation and background research
  • Equipment
  • Conducting the interview
  • Thinking about the “final” project
  • Permanent access for future generations and communities

8 Steps to Doing Oral History (PDF).

Oral History Workshop

Image of the Oral history Workshop“Oral History Workshop,” a guide to interviewing skills and oral history collection newly revised for 2014,  reviews skills and best practices to record the greatest amount of personally significant and historically accurate information as possible.

The success of the interview depends to a great degree on the amount of trust and understanding the interviewer is able to create with the narrator. Courtesy and empathy are a part of this process. 

-Dr. Paul Ortiz

Oral History Workshop (PDF)

Legalities and Ethics of Oral History

Information about the legalities and ethics of oral history practice is available for download from the Oral History Association. Read the information carefully before you begin your project to avoid the legal dilemmas.

  • The Oral History Association’s Pamphlet Series is available online for download.


Oral History and Digital Humanities

Technology How-To’s and Tutorials from Deborah Hendrix

Deborah Hendrix, SPOHP’s Digital Humanities Advisor, structured introductory how-to videos and demonstrations for interested researchers preparing to use different computer programs and technologies related to oral history collection. Additional tutorials are available on SPOHP’s YouTube channel, SPOHP111.


Additional Resources

There are many outstanding examples of books, web sites, musical compositions that use oral history to extend knowledge of the human condition. Examples of books and other sources that contain clues on how to use oral history as a tool of remembrance, equity and social justice include:

The Oral History Association

The Oral History Association seeks to bring together all persons interested in oral history as a way of collecting and interpreting human memories to foster knowledge and human dignity. With an international membership, the OHA serves a broad and diverse audience. Local historians, librarians and archivists, students, journalists, teachers, and academic scholars from many fields have found that the OHA provides both professional guidance and a collegial environment for sharing research. To guide and advise those concerned with oral documentation, the OHA has established a set of goals, guidelines, and evaluation standards for oral history interviews.

For additional information, contact SPOHP, call the offices at (352) 392-7168, and connect with us online today.