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English 1010, Global Narratives Fall 2015

Essay 2 is a 2-3 page written summary of an oral history interview. The purpose of this project is for students to collect and document personal experience narratives from a tradition-bearer.
Please see
The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide by Marjorie Hunt (© 2003 Smithsonian Institution) for information regarding the tradition-bearer. The guide will also help students with developing interview questions and methods for conducting the interview. Students are expected to read the guide and use it as a source for this project. I have already reviewed some of the information published the guide during class. Students must also review the Guide to Transcribing and Summarizing Oral Histories: Historic Columbia River Highway Oral History Project (©The Oregon Department of Research Section 2010) for general instructions on writing oral history summaries and transcribing interviews. For this assignment, students will only transcribe a portion of the oral history interview.

Assignment Guidelines: Preliminary Steps

  • Consider the goal of your research.

  • Identify a tradition-bearer who has the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to provide the

    information you are seeking.

  • Create 5 to 10 well-developed questions relevant to your research to ask the tradition-bearer.

  • Contact your tradition-bearer to discuss the purpose of your assignment, and the goal of your


  • During your initial conversation, share a few of your interview questions with the tradition-bearer

    and let him or her know what you will be doing with the information.

  • Inform the tradition-bearer of your interviewing process and the length of time for the interview

    (30-60 minutes).

  • Ask for permission to record the interview for accuracy.

  • Confirm a date, time, and safe location to conduct the interview. This is a fun and informative

    project, but do not hesitate to exercise caution. Remember, telephone interviews and

    videoconference interviews are also acceptable.

    The Interview

  • Make certain your recording device is working properly before the interview and make certain you are prepared to start the interview on time. Do not keep the tradition-bearer waiting. Always be courteous. A tape recorder is the most efficient device for this project, but students may also use other recording devices that are readily available.

  • Prior to starting the interview, and before turning on your recording device, ask the tradition- bearer’s consent for a verbal release. In addition to the verbal release, students should also secure a written release. However, due to the nature of this assignment, a written release is not mandatory. Students who would like to secure a written release should see The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide for the written release form. Please print the form and bring it with you to the interview. During the student conference for this project, please be prepared to provide proof of a verbal and/or written release form. Due to the limited nature of this assignment, I will accept a verbal release from those who are conducting long distance interviews. Students who are planning to publish the oral history interview must secure a written release form and inform the tradition-bearer of your intent to publish.



  • As soon as you turn on the recording device, state the date, your name and the name of the tradition-bearer: “Today is September 22, 2015. I am Jane Doe and I am interviewing John Doe for my oral history project. Mr. Doe, do I have your consent to record this interview for the sole purpose of completing my oral history assignment?” Wait for the tradition-bearer to reply.

  • Conduct the interview. Try to have all of your questions answered, but always remain flexible. Allow the tradition-bearer to elaborate. Listen carefully to the narrative and take advantage of opportunities to ask questions about new information that may surface during the interview. Don’t be pushy or anxious. Respect the tradition-bearer’s cues.

  • After you have concluded the interview, remember to thank the tradition-bearer for his or her time. Ask if they would like to have a copy of the recorded interview and a copy of the oral history project once you have completed it. This is always an appropriate gesture.

    The Oral History Summary

    • Format

    • The oral history assignment must be typed double-spaced (12 point font).

    • Begin each new paragraph with an indention (Tab 5 spaces).

    • Use 1-inch margins (top, bottom, and sides).

    • In the top left hand corner of your paper, please include the following information:

      o Date (October 9, 2015)
      o (Your Name) Jane Doe
      o Essay 2 (Oral History Summary) o English 1010-(section)
      o Dr. A

    • Title: Create an engaging title that identifies your tradition-bearer and the purpose of your research.

    • Introduction

    • In 3 to 4 well-developed paragraphs, identify the purpose of your research, discuss your research

      topic and provide background information on your tradition-bearer. Explain why you selected

      your tradition-bearer. Describe the details of your interview (date, time, location, techniques).

    • Interview Highlights

    • Transcribe at least 5 of the questions asked during the interview and the tradition-bearer’s

      response to each question.

    • Remember to select questions and answers relevant to your research focus.

    • Conclusion

    • Write a 300-500-word conclusion summarizing your observations and experience.

      Sources (3-4)


    • The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide by Marjorie Hunt (© 2003

      Smithsonian Institution)

    • Guide to Transcribing and Summarizing Oral Histories: Historic Columbia River Highway Oral History Project (©The Oregon Department of Research Section 2010)

    • Optional Source: Students may explore additional sources (books, articles, documents) for this project. A fourth source is not mandatory. If a fourth source is referenced, it must be cited according to MLA guidelines.



Grading Rubric

Essay (100 points)
20 points: Peer Reviews completed according to guidelines.
20 point: Introduction completed according to guidelines.
20 points: Interview Highlights completed according to guidelines. 20 points: Conclusion completed according to guidelines.
20 points: Format and electronic submission according to guidelines.

Submission Guidelines:

All essays must be submitted electronically through Google Docs on or before the due date. Please see the handout for submitting assignments through Google Docs on the course website. Students must follow the same guidelines used for Essay 1. However, when Google Docs asks that you name your document before saving it, please list your name, course name and section, and the title of this assignment: “Essay 2, Oral History Summary.” Please note: Assignments submitted late, without prior approval of the instructor, will not be accepted. Essays that are not submitted according to the assignment guidelines or the assignment submission guidelines will not be accepted. Students who do not follow the guidelines will earn 0 points for this assignment.

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