Oral History Project


Some Technical Information About Audio Recording



Digital Audio Recordings

Recordings can be submitted digital format as either .wav or .mp3 files. These can be sent via the internet or by mail recorded on a cdrom.  Our host, the University of Kentucky Oral History Program is starting the process of converting their collection to digital format.

Audio-cassette tapes

The tapes we recommend you use should be good quality (Sony, Memorex, BASF, Scotch, etc.) because these seem to be more durable. The length that we recommend is sixty minute or perhaps 90 minutes.  Do not use 120 minute tapes as they are thin and prone to stretching and breakage. There is no need to purchase tape which is manufactured for better sound reproduction. Every tape you submit should have an external label attached that includes your name, the name of the person you interview, and the date. In addition it is good practice to record the same information at the beginning of the interview.

Video Recordings

Video recorded interviews are also welcomed.  

Sound Quality

Sound Quality

In doing the interview be careful with sound quality, especially  balance between the two participants. Poor quality sound increases the costs of transcription and decreases the accuracy. It is often useful to practice recording with the equipment you will be using so as to reduce errors and distractions.

Release Form

Release Form

It is important to fill out the release form that is provided. This form transfers the copyright of the recording.  It is possible to put conditions of use on the recording and transcript. There may be reasons to delay public access to the content for a period of time.

Release Form

What to do When Finished

What to do When Finished

When you are finished, send the completed recording and signed release form to John van Willigen, 660 Lakeshore Drive, Lexington, Kentucky 40502. The completed audio will be archived, transcribed and made available for scholarly use. The transcription will be produced by a professional transcriber and then reviewed by an editor familiar with the content so as to improve the accuracy of the transcription. The transcript will be made available for study at the University of Kentucky Library. Some transcripts will be made available on the Internet  While this is not encouraged it is possible to restrict usage.

Interview Protocol

Interview Protocol

We have prepared an information sheet for planning interviews. The SFAA Oral History committee would be willing to give advice on this aspect of the interview if desired. Simply request this from John van Willigen at ant101@uky.edu.

SfAA Oral History Interview Suggested Topics

Each interview should be tailor-made to the particular career and experiences of the applied and practicing anthropologist/sociologist being interviewed. The important goal is to produce a verbal account of the interviewee’s experiences, especially those that shaped the development of application in anthropology and sociology. These general topics are provided mainly as a guide for interview planning. In the event that any of these issues have been covered in earlier sessions, it may not be necessary to review them again.

Two broad areas are outlined. The first focuses on the anthropologist’s/sociologist’s observations of the development of applied and practicing anthropology. The second addresses aspects about his/her personal career.

Development of Applied and Practicing Anthropology

  • Central influences on the early development of applied and practicing anthropology/sociology.

  • Explicit inclusion of practicing anthropology into the discipline and focus of practitioner work.

  • Nature of the formative years of applied and practicing anthropology/sociology?

  • The main problems that needed to be solved or worked on in your areas of applied and practicing anthropology/sociology.

  • Interesting stories from your experience that demonstrate the development and history of applied and practicing anthropology/sociology.

  • Success stories?

  • Disappointments?

  • Challenges for the future for the application and practice of anthropology/sociology.

  • Personal Career

  • Entrée to applied and practicing anthropology/sociology (e.g., education, early career, particular influences from growing up years, notable experiences).

  • How he/she made the decision to study the discipline in the first place.

  • First work as an applied and practicing anthropologist/sociologist and how he/she came to that part of his/her career. Timing, place, substance, results, lessons learned.

  • Review of career history, especially contributions made to applied and practicing anthropology/sociology.

  • Highlights from the interviewee’s perspective of his/her career overall and his/her applied and practicing anthropology/sociology, in particular.

  • “Words of wisdom” for junior colleagues considering applied work.

  • Recommendations for the disciplines of anthropology and sociology with regard to educating people to become effective applied and practicing social scientists.

  • Other reflections.

Citation of Interviews

Citation of Interviews

The interview, once completed, transcribed, reviewed and made available for study, becomes a kind of publication that the interviewer will be able to cite. Suggested Format of Citation for SfAA Project is provided below with example.

Interview with (interviewee) by (interviewer), Applied Anthropology Oral History Project of the Society for Applied Anthropology, (date and place of interview), (page of transcript if applicable or total pages, i.e. XX pp.), in the Oral History Collection of the University of Kentucky.

An Example:
Interview with John W. Bennett by Robert L. Canfield, Applied Anthropology Oral History Project of the Society for Applied Anthropology, July 18 and 22, St. Louis, Missouri, 31 pp., in the Oral History Collection of the University of Kentucky.

Oral History Project Archives

SfAA Oral History Bibliography (PDFs of the interviews are available through the bibliography link)

The collection is located at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries. The 132 accessioned interviews are currently listed in the Center’s data base.

Many of these interviews are transcribed. 26 of the transcripts have been published, mostly in the Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter. These are accessible in the SfAA Oral History Bibliography and the newsletters archived on the SfAA website. Published transcripts are all edited and have introductions and, while some are abridged, many are full length. 

Suggestions for persons to be interviewed are always welcomedContact info@appliedanthro.org.

©Society for Applied Anthropology 

P.O. Box 2436 • Oklahoma City, OK 73101 • 405.843.5113 • info@appliedanthro.org