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Instructions for Oral History Interviews

October 25, 2011

By Eva Marie Pearson, AEHC Publicity Chairman

At the state meeting in June of this year, the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council launched an Oral History Program in celebration of 100 years of Extension Homemakers/Home Demonstration work in this state and as a way of preserving the stories of extraordinary human beings – our friends and neighbors.

At that meeting, each county was asked to conduct two interviews of either Extension Homemakers – active or inactive – or Extension personnel – active or retired.  Audio recordings and written transcriptions will be created of these interviews.

In the process of acquiring a repository for our precious memories, this project attracted the attention of Kris Katrosh, the director of The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.  The center’s staff are excited and enthusiastic about this project because it is the first statewide project in which they are involved from the beginning to the end.

Because of the Pryor Center’s involvement, it is providing the audio recording equipment, lots of technical advise and support and a central repository for everything you need to know about your part in the project. The Pryor Center website is  To access this information, go to the Pryor Center website, on the left hand side, click About the Pryor Center, then Partnerships and then Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council 100th Anniversary Oral History Project.

 The Pryor Center  will also make copies of the audio recordings and the written transcriptions on cd’s.  At the June meeting, several of you expressed concern about how to get this done. 

 That’s the project in a nutshell. And in the very simplest of terms –  Each county is responsible for conducting two interviews, transcribing these interviews and printing and binding six copies of  each interview.

 Here is a checklist to aid in the project.

No. 1 – Choose a county liaison –  These liaisons will do more than oversee this oral history program in their counties.  They are the contact person between the county and the state council’s Centennial Celebration Committee.

 No. 2 – Choose an Interviewer or Interviewers – These folks will conduct the interviews from a prepared set of questions.

 No. 3 – Choose the Interviewees – These can be active or inactive Extension Homemakers or active or retired Extension personnel in your county.  Each county will use its own criteria and methods for selection.

 No. 4 – Contact Susan Kendrick-Perry, assistant director of operations at The Pryor Center and our shepherdess through this project, to arrange use of audio recording equipment.  Susan will provide information that you need for the project. It is easier to contact her by email –  And she does answer her emails.

If you have not already reserved a time to use the recording equipment, please do it today. Please make your initial contact with Susan today.

 No. 5 – Contact me, Eva Marie Pearson, at I want to be kept in the loop. Just copy me when you email Susan. She copies me on all of her correspondence with you. It is important, actually imperative, that you include the name of your county with all correspondence.

 No. 6 – Conduct the interviews and return the recordings and the audio recording equipment to The Pryor Center. The recordings will be returned to you for your preparation of the written transcriptions. The county is responsible for paying for the return of the recording equipment to The Pryor Center. This cost is between $30 and $40.

 No. 7 – Get all releases signed. There are releases that need to be signed by both the interviewers and the interviewees from The Pryor Center and the Arkansas History Commission.

 No. 8 – Either take or secure pictures of the interviewees – black and white or color. It does not matter. These will be used on the inside cover page of the written transcription of the interviews. Keep a copy for yourself and email a copy to Betty Oliver at and to Eva Marie Pearson at

  No. 9 – Transcribe the audio recordings.  Download the templates for the outside cover, inside cover and body of the transcription from The Pryor Center website. Using these will make your life much easier.

 No. 10 – The interviewers and interviewees should listen to the tapes and read the written transcripts. If there are blatant errors, make note of them and notify Susan. They can be removed from the audio, but not replaced.

 No. 11 – After the interviewers and interviewees give their approval, send the audio recordings to Susan and email copies of the final drafts of the written transcripts to Susan and to me, including both the outside front cover and the inside cover.

 No. 12 – After the written transcript for each interview is returned to you, print six copies of it, have them bound and bring four copies to the spring meeting at Ferndale on March 14.  One copy goes to your county Extension office and the other to the interviewee. You might want to do an additional copy for your interviewer.

 The outside covers – front and back – should be  8 1/2-by-11-inch, either 110-pound matte finish paper or chrome coat 12-pound paper, which has a high gloss. The best cover color will be white, so that the logos will be highly visible.

 Some of you have expressed concern about how to get them bound. The written transcriptions should be bound in a manner known as spiral or coil binding.  All the bindings will probably not be the same, and that is fine as long as they are spiral or coil.  Most print shops, anyone who does annual reports, such as a certified public accountants, and even some countyExtension offices have binding equipment. If you are familiar with the “Curtain Calls” booklet available at the state meetings in June, these are examples of the appropriate binding.

 The inside pages of the transcription should be printed on 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper. That used in a desktop printer is fine.

 On the templates on the website, you will notice  what appear to be extraneous words in italic, some words in parenthesis and also numbers. The italics give directions such as type font, to center type and whether a question is for Extension Homemakers or Extension personnel. The numbers indicate type size. The words in parenthesis should be changed to the appropriate information for each interview. After changing, remove the parenthesis. All words in italics and numbers should also be removed before the final draft of the transcript.

 The interviewer reads the boldface portion; however, the information above that on the first page should be included in the written transcript.

 Both the logos on the front cover and the EEO statement on the final page are required.

 There are release forms that must be signed. The Pryor Center will send its, and I have the one for the Arkansas History Commission. I have sent the Arkansas History Commission form to all the liaisons. If you are unable to locate it, I will be happy to resend it. Please get these forms signed at the time you do the interviews because that way you don’t have to retrace your steps. You will need to bring copies of the Arkansas History Commission release forms to Ferndale. You need one copy of  this release form signed by each interviewer/interviewee.

 Please remember that Susan and I are here to help in whatever way we can. Please ask questions. It is better to ask a question and do it correctly than have to redo it.

 This information was taken from a presentation made by Eva Marie Pearson, Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council publicity chairman, at the 2011 fall district rallies.


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