Committed to the living heritage of South Carolinians, the SCL's Office of Oral History records their stories, told in their own voices, and provides access for future generations. Our core mission preserves the details of their daily lives, communities and families, and notable events that shaped South Carolina.
The information sought in oral history work is best obtained by supporting interviewees in the telling of their stories. Oral histories should not be dry recitations of facts, but engaging remembrances of the interviewee's experiences and insights. Questions should be framed to encourage, not dampen, the interviewee in his/her recollections. It is best to cast oneself as the student, eager to learn what the interviewee wishes to impart, not the investigative reporter, trying to pin down the facts. The latter approach almost certainly guarantees the equivalent of a lifeless butterfly collection. The former will reveal more than you anticipated and, often, more than the interviewee intended or realized was available in his/her memory.
Silence as a Tool
Use silence as a tool. If the interviewee pauses, don't jump in immediately with another question. The interviewee may be connecting what they've just said to some other thought that is related and important.
Click here for other interviewing tips.
Shivar Spring Company & Tom McConnell: A Shared Story