The UC Berkeley Oral History Center is offering a 1-day Introductory Workshop on Saturday, February 29, 2020, focusing on the nuts-­and-­bolts of oral history. The workshop is designed for anyone who wants to get started in oral history, or who wants to hone interviewing skills used in a variety of fields. 

Oral history is much more than an interview. It’s a discipline characterized by planning, collaboration, recording, and preservation. As Oral History Center Interviewer Shanna Farrell explains, “Oral history allows people to speak in their own style, giving someone individual space to fully narrate their own story. It takes practice to craft questions and to listen in stereo, picking up on the things that aren’t said, and to be comfortable sitting in silence.”

Oral History Center Interviewer Paul Burnett leads a group discussion on oral history practice. Photo by Jami Smith.

“I pressed the red button at the top of my camera, which stopped the recording, and sat back. The narrator stared into space and said, ‘I’ve never told that to anyone before.’” Paul Burnett on the importance of unrecorded conversation in oral history interviewing  

Topics of the workshop include methodology, ethics, practice, and recording. Taught by seasoned oral historians in a small group setting, the workshop includes hands­-on practice exercises. Past attendees have included community-­based historians, teachers, genealogists, public historians, graduate students, and undergraduates. Participants often go on to attend the OHC’s weeklong advanced workshop in the summer. 

Apply online by January 31.

Learn more on the UC Berkeley Library website. If you have specific questions, please contact Shanna Farrell at sfarrell@library.berkeley.edu.


Categories: Campus Announcements, January 2020