Recording living people’s testimony about their own experiences and transcribing these recordings creates documents for future use by scholars and other researchers. When carried out properly, oral history transcription results in archival quality documents that are easy to locate, browse, study, and bring together for use in research publications and presentations.
Interesting Oral History Projects
An interesting recent oral history project has been initiated in connection with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s sesquicentennial celebration which is five years away. Students are conducting the multi-year project to collect the memories of UWO alumni, faculty and staff. These unique, personal perspectives about the past by the people who experienced it will help archivists to go beyond the records by asking new questions, discovering new interpretive angles and recovering fascinating untold stories, according to the UWO report.
Another example is the NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project (JSC OHP). Started off in 1997, the aim of this oral history project is to capture history from the pioneers who first created an avenue to space and the moon. The project includes interviews with managers, engineers, technicians, doctors, astronauts, and other employees of NASA and aerospace contractors who participated in various programs that provided the country and the world with a window to space exploration. The transcripts of these oral histories will endure to tell future generations about NASA’s exciting ventures.
Oral History Transcription Services for Quality Records
Transcribing oral histories is desirable but time-consuming, which is why many organizations now rely on a professional legal transcription company. There are many benefits to this:
- The task is carried out by skilled transcriptionists, which ensures the quality of the end product.
- The transcripts would be complete with interviewer and narrator review, revision, editing, annotation, and cataloguing
- Transcripts can be uploaded on the project website so that users can access them easily
- Researchers find it easy to look through a transcript for topics rather than listen to a recording
- PDF versions of transcripts are word-searchable, a boon for those looking for a particular reference
- Transcripts can be easily indexed by name and subject and make it easy to browse in and around the context of a specific reference
- To communicate the flavor of the original recording, the transcripts can be linked to digital audio or video interview excerpts
Non-verbal information could have special significance, such as facial expressions or specific words which are stressed by the speaker. Professional transcriptionists can provide verbatim transcription of the narrator’s rendering by changing as little as possible. Based on client needs, they can also provide fully edited versions of the transcripts. To ensure the accuracy of the final documentation, the draft transcripts are often given to the narrators for preview so that they can correct misunderstood information, wrongly spelt proper names, and other anomalies.