We’re pleased to announce a new project to foster oral history projects at ISU and beyond. Called the Oral History Toolkit, the goal of this project is to provide the opportunity and means for individuals and groups to plan, conduct, and share oral history projects.
While SCUA is fortunate to have conducted many oral histories over the last 50 years, it is a fraction of all the stories that can and should be preserved. This project seeks to expand those stories to provide a fuller, more inclusive representation of Iowa State and surrounding communities. All stories are welcome.
In achieving this goal, we recognize that a balance must be made between quality recordings and providing low-barrier, easy-to-use means for capture. As a result, we outline a variety of options so that projects can get carried out with available means yet still maintain a sufficient level of quality for long-term access and research use.
A second balancing act concerns documentation. We all appreciate simplicity and minimal instructions—just get to the point please. Yet for many individuals, conducting oral histories and submitting them to an archives are totally new concepts. As a result, we try to provide succinct, to-the-point instructions to get you up and running without overburdening you with unnecessary details. We therefore offer two sets of documentation, a simple Quick Start Guide and an in-depth Manual.
Incorporating collaborative, distributed workflows, the Toolkit provides an easy way for individuals to capture and share recordings using readily available technology, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, and/or audiovisual recording equipment. We’ve designed the process to be flexible to incorporate both individuals who record their own stories and interviews between two parties. We also have equipment that can be loaned for project use if needed. We’ve tried to accommodate all use cases so that equipment/technology is not a barrier.
The project utilizes Google Drive for file and project management. Its collaborative editing, sharing, and forms functionality makes it a great tool for group projects. Plus, it integrates well with mobile and desktop apps for easy uploading and editing of files. Since this project is open to all, we’ve set the sharing settings to Public so anyone can access it. Documentation (including guides and forms) and folders for individual project files are accessible here. If participants are concerned about access to files, project coordinators can set up an administrator to govern access and manage folder and file settings more granularly. This is common for oral history projects so we are used to accommodating these types of requests.
Materials submitted as part of Toolkit projects will be deposited within SCUA. Since Iowa State’s fundamental mission is advancing knowledge, the default access setting on these materials is “World”–meaning that anyone can view the materials and download individual files. We realize, however, that some projects may deal with sensitive topics and participants may not want to share files so widely. Thankfully, our systems offers different levels of access, including embargo periods, and visibility.
Oral histories will be added to a new collection in Aviary. In addition to showcasing projects, this platform allows for media streaming, captioning, and full-text searching and synching of transcripts.
Have an idea for an oral history project? Contact us at email@example.com to share it and begin the discussion. We’ll help you plan the project and ensure that it gets done right.