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The Oral History Manual (American Association for State and Local History) Hardcover – June 16, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0759111578 ISBN-10: 075911157X Edition: Second Edition
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Editorial Reviews


The Oral History Manual is a treasure-trove, both for people who want to know how to organize and run an oral history program from scratch, and for those who want to improve the professionalism of an ongoing program. Whether you feel overwhelmed by how to get started, want a better understanding of everything from equipment choices to techniques for conducting better interviews, require better organization so that your interviews don't fall into a black hole of processing limbo, or wonder about the philosophical underpinnings of oral history practice, this is your book. Even though I've worked in the field for many years, I found a wealth of examples of procedures and forms in this new edition that will help me improve my own oral history program. (Susan Becker, Maria Rogers Oral History Program Manager, Boulder Public Library)

The Oral History Manual has been a classroom standard since it was first published in 2002, praised by teachers for its logical organization of materials and completeness of topics, and by students for its easily understood descriptions, explanations, and instructions. This second edition retains the first edition's ease of use while adding important new information relevant to contemporary students: expanded sections on cross-cultural interviewing, processing interviews, budgeting, and legal and ethical considerations, along with an updated technology section. Beyond being useful for students, this is a great guide for researchers wanting to figure out how to conduct and process interviewing projects, whether they work professionally for a local history society or independently on a family oral history project. (John Wolford, book review editor, The Oral History Review; University of Missouri - St. Louis)

A clear and concise discussion of the process of oral history. It has become the standard manual for most community and academic oral history projects….clearly explains the fundamentals of oral history techniques, such as how the interaction of interviewer and narrator influences most aspects of the interview, from how a question is phrased to how the response is understood. (Oral History Review, August 26, 2010)

About the Author

Barbara W. Sommer has worked in oral history and public history for nearly 30 years. She is the author of Hard Work and a Good Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota, and is a co-author of The American Indian Oral History Manual: Making Many Voices Heard. She has taught oral history extensively in college classrooms in Nebraska and Minnesota and in community workshops around the United States and in Canada and is a founder of the Oral History Association of Minnesota.
Mary Kay Quinlan is associate professor of journalism at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and editor of the Oral History Association Newsletter. She is a co-author of The American Indian Oral History Manual and of The People Who Made It Work: A Centennial Oral History of the Cushman Motor Works. She has taught oral history at the college level and in community workshops and, with Sommer, has presented at oral history conferences in the United States and Canada. They are co-founders of the Nebraska Foundation for the Preservation of Oral History.

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Product Details

  • Series: American Association for State and Local History
  • Hardcover: 130 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press; Second Edition edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075911157X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759111578
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.6 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,371,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara W. Sommer, an oral historian for almost thirty years, has spent her career in the field of public history, serving as historical organization director and director or co-director for numerous oral history projects. She is a co-author of the five-volume Community Oral History Toolkit (2012) with Nancy MacKay and Mary Kay Quinlan. Her book, Hard Work and a Good Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota, came out in 2008; it was followed by "'We Had This Opportunity:' African Americans and the Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota," in The State We're In: Reflections on Minnesota History. With Mary Kay Quinlan, she is co-author of The Oral History Manual, The Oral History Manual, 2nd ed. (2009), and The People Who Made It Work: A Centennial History of the Cushman Motor Works (2001), and with Quinlan and Paul Eisloeffel, she is a co-author of Capturing the Living Past: An Oral History Primer, on the Nebraska Historical Society website
( 2005). She is the co-author with Charles E. Trimble and Mary Kay Quinlan of The American Indian Oral History Manual: Making Many Voices Heard (2008). Quilt House, a history of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska also came out in 2012. Sommer is the winner of a Minnesota Book Award, Minnesota category, a Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, General Nonfiction category, and an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for Hard Work and a Good Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota.

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