The Global Mormon Oral History Project welcomes volunteers who are willing to interview Latter-day Saints from outside the United States. To conduct an interview you will need:
- – recording equipment (which you might already own)
- – a quiet place to speak with your narrator for one to two hours
- – the Agreement to Participate form [Word Doc]
- – the Oral History Project Summary form [Word Doc]
- – the Oral Life History Suggested Questions form [Word Doc]
You may very well already own all the equipment you need to successfully record a one or two-hour interview. Your tablet, laptop, or smart phone might already contain recording capabilities, and if not, they can usually be obtained for free from app stores. Apps like Smart Recorder have been used successfully by other interviewers. Just be sure that the recording file (preferably in .wav or .mp3) can be emailed to and accessed from a computer. Also, be sure there is sufficient room on your phone or tablet for the recording. You may want to use two devices just to be safe in case one fails or runs out of space.
A digital voice recorder that exports files to computers is also a great option and can be obtained relatively inexpensively. The Olympus Digital Voice Recorder WS-852 should work very well, but be sure to experiment with recording, saving, and transferring your files before you begin your interview.
Agreement to Participate Form
The Agreement to Participate form is essential. This is an informed consent document, laying out what the project is, who is eligible to participate, what the terms of participation are, and the narrator’s options in regard to confidentiality. He or she can choose to be identified by name on the audio recordings and transcriptions, or he or she can choose to remain anonymous in perpetuity, in which case the audio file will not be archived, but the transcriptions (stripped of names) will be. This form must be signed and dated for the interview to be accepted into the archive. If your narrator does not speak English, you will need to translate the Agreement to Participate Form into a language your narrator does understand. For help with translation of this document, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Quiet Place
Interviews are most successful when conducted in quiet and private places, such as people’s homes. Skype or Google Chat interviewing is possible if you make sure your connection is clear and volume high.
Oral Life History Suggested Questions
This one page outline of questions covers personal history (childhood, marriage, profession, challenges in life, etc.), experiences with church and society, and reflections on religious beliefs. You do not need to ask every single question, but please be sure to ask a handful from each section. Especially important are their thoughts on their experiences as Mormons in their particular countries. If there are other questions that you think should be asked, please feel free to do so.
How to Conduct an Interview
First, please send or show your narrator your anticipated interview questions beforehand. He or she should have a sense as to the types of questions you’ll be asking. You may also want to show your narrator the Agreement to Participate beforehand.
When you arrive at your narrator’s home, begin by going over the Agreement to Participate with your narrator and answer any questions she may have. Once she signs it, have her fill out the Summary form. Second, turn on the recorder and introduce yourself, say the date, and say who you are interviewing. Then launch into your first question.
Conducting an oral life history interview is a wonderful opportunity to hear someone deeply and reflectively speak about his life. Be responsive to your narrator, and feel free to interject follow up questions or quick comments. It is perfectly fine for the tone of the interview to be conversational and informal. If your narrator has a particular story he wants to tell, let him tell that story, even if it means covering fewer questions.
As soon as you are done, transfer the recording file to your computer, and email the audio file, the Agreement to Participate form, and the Summary form to email@example.com. If you can transcribe the interview as well, that would be immensely helpful.