How much time should I set aside to interview my parents for an oral history project? How many topics should I expect to cover? And who can I get to transcribe the video later?
My parents aren't old (they're both in their mid-fifties) but I've decided to start an oral history project with them while I'm home for Christmas. My aunt tried to do this with my great grandmother when she was in her nineties, and by then it was too late, so I want to get a head start.
Searching through old MeFi and AskMe posts pointed me toward this great book on personal histories
, to the Smithsonian's guide to oral history
, and to Story Corps' DIY guide to interviewing
, so I'm all set for good questions to ask and for how to set up. But since this is going to be an ongoing project (which I intend to work on pretty much every time I'm home, a few times a year) I want to figure out how many hour-long interview sessions (which is the limit my camera gives me before I have to upload) I should try to do over five days, and how much ground I ought to try to cover—how focused or unfocused I ought to be.
I'd love to discuss my parents' childhoods, but I'd also really like to discuss how they met and the first few years of their relationship, before my sister and I came along. Should I focus on specific stories that I know about (my mom's family at the 1965 World's Fair, my dad's road trip with his grandparents), or will that narrow things too much?
Also, as my digital video isn't guaranteed to last, I want to have someone transcribe the interviews. Know any good transcription services?