Preparing for an Oral History Interview
The interview questions in the transcripts hint at the work that went into planning for the interview. To prepare for an interview, the oral historian conducts background research into primary and secondary documents of the period, does a brief preliminary interview with the narrator, and develops a question outline. For example, to prepare for the interview with Marjorie Brockman, we read a range of primary documents about the Farm Labor Project available at the Brooklyn College Library Archives including recruitment materials, reports on the Project generated by the college, and issues of the “Bean Stalker,” the newspaper written by students participating in the Project. (We have included some of these primary documents in the “Teaching” section of the website.) In addition, we drew on historical overviews of the Great Depression era, and life on the home front during World War II. These materials provided useful background information about the Project, and also highlighted the areas that could only be filled in by the first person experience.