SfAA Oral History Project
by the Oral History Committee

Guidance for Interviews

The goal of the Society for Applied Anthropology Oral History Project is the documentation of applied and practicing anthropology through recorded oral history interviews that are properly archived, transcribed, and disseminated. Topics which are important to the project include the experiences of applied and practicing anthropologists in various domains of application in the past, the history of precedent - setting projects,  the history of the Society for Applied Anthropology and other related  organizations and the history of applied and practicing anthropology training programs. Special attention will be directed to interviewing persons that have received awards from the Society. The project also attempts to identify related resources such as oral history interviews relating to the history of application and practice in anthropology.

The interviews are done by volunteers who for the most part are members of the Society. Suggestions for persons to be interviewed and volunteers to do interviews are welcome.


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.  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. 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.

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. 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.

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 Hisotry Project Archives

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 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 welcomed. Contact ant101@uky.edu.

Oral History Project Documents


Bibliography of Available Transcripts