Pre-Interviews | Sample Topics | Interview Length | Project Editing | Partial Services

Pre-Interview Meetings

Oral history testimonies are designed to capture the personality and unique voice of the interviewee. Each recorded interview is preceded by a Pre-Interview Meeting of approximately 2 hours in length.

The Pre-Interview Meeting will help us:

  • Choose basic themes and format of the interview
  • Gather family history and background information
  • Determine the chronology of events to be covered
  • Prepare the Interviewee for the recorded interview
  • Provide the Interviewer with a focus for historical research and interview-questionnaire development.

Sample Topics

  • Family history and intergenerational relationships
  • Childhood memories
  • Values, beliefs and life lessons
  • Emigration and travel experiences
  • Professional and organizational history
  • Significant life events and historic events
  • Changes in technology

Interview Length

The length of a Life History interview depends on one's resources and the breadth of history a family or organization would like to preserve. A complete Life History can normally be gathered in 5 to 10 hours. However quite comprehensive stories can be told in 2 to 4 hours as well.

If resources are limited, gather the information now and format it later!

You may also consider combining formats, e.g.--a six hour audiotaped interview, with two hours of videotaping, instead of a six hour videotaped interview.

Lastly, single interview sessions should not extend beyond 2 hours, since they require concentration and focus on the part of the interviewer and the interviewee. Multiple interview sessions are usually scheduled over a few days or weeks.

Project Editing

Since editing involves cutting away people's words and unique personal style, Life History Services prefers to leave interviews unedited (whole and intact), so as to preserve the particular style and personality of the storyteller and their tales.

Minimal editing does occur in all formats. Original videotaped footage is assembled onto an edited master tape which incorporates titles, music, and photos. VHS and DVD copies are then made from the edited master tape.

Digital audio tapes are also transferred to regular cassette tapes or audio CDs for the family. Both audio and videotapes include titles, fading between tapes, labeling, and introductory and closing statements. Written work involves correction, layout and printing of transcripts, and professional biographical writing, if desired.

Lastly, Life History Services provides clients with the original master tapes as well as the duplicated recordings on the format of choice. Additional editing, incorporation of existing materials, and tape duplication services are also available through Life History Services.

Partial Services

Life History Services will assist you with your own project. We provide consultation, project planning, interviewing and editing services to help you meet your goals.


Contact Life History Services for pricing and a free consultation!