This is Part 2 in a series of articles that provide oral history guidelines for those who share our passion for collecting American fire history before it is lost to the ages. Read Part 1
If there is a contemporary interview style that you could easily identify with and effectively adopt, it might be that of a mental health care professional. A psychologist, or psychiatrist, will first establish a safe environment for the interviewee and provide an appropriate atmosphere for a person to tell their story. The person being interviewed is thoughtfully allowed to tell the story with carefully crafted follow-up questions asked by an attentive interviewer.
As an interviewer, you should never exploit the person you are interviewing or their story. An interview example that many of us see on television is the technique used by investigative reporters. But this type of interview technique is not the best example of how to conduct a historical oral interview! Investigative reporters are all about their story — regardless of who gets hurt in the process of getting to the “truth.”
Continue reading → Ethical considerations for oral history interviews