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Oral history

Finding interviewees

When looking for potential interviewees, try to be as personable as possible. Emphasise that you’d like to hear their stories and memories about the local area, workplaces and family and friends. Avoid describing the process as an ‘interview’, as this can be off-putting.

Introduce your programme and what you plan to achieve. This will help potential candidates understand the value of their contribution and feel more confident about having something relevant and useful to say.

Below are some tips for getting in touch with people:

  • First, ask members of your community archive group to draw up lists of potential candidates in their local networks who fit the collecting criteria. They can also help to recruit participants. Keep a spreadsheet of contact details – to comply with data protection regulations, make sure the spreadsheet is password protected and not shared outside of your group, and delete personal details as soon as they are no longer required.
  • Contact local history societies, boards of governors, clubs, parish councils and other relevant groups
  • Advertise for interviewees on social media, particularly community Facebook groups or local message boards
  • Put notices in local shops or on library message boards with your organisation’s contact details
  • Advertise for participants through local newspapers or radio stations

It’s important to be selective – you don’t have to interview everyone who approaches you. Select participants who you feel will best represent your chosen topics.

Oral history survey:

Fill out this survey to let us know your thoughts on the oral history guide.