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The Methods

What is oral history?

Oral history is a method for studying the past by interviewing people who lived through it. Anyone and any topic can be the focus of an oral history interview. However, oral history is especially useful for capturing the voices, stories, and memories of individuals and communities who might not otherwise be represented in history books. It can provide rich detail about the daily lives and experiences of people who are not famous or powerful. In order to preserve the interviews for future generations, oral histories are usually recorded, transcribed, and placed in a library or archive.

How is this project structured?

Each interview has three main participants: the Voices of Princeton facilitator, the interviewer, and the interviewee.

The facilitator is a Voices of Princeton project representative. In the interview, the facilitator will:

  • welcome the two interview participants
  • explain the interview process overall

  • walk through the consent paperwork

  • operate and monitor the recording equipment

  • prompt the interviewer if needed to keep the conversation flowing

The interviewer and interviewee are people who know one another -- friends, siblings, co-workers, family members, neighbors -- any two people who would like to participate in an interview together.

No experience is necessary! 

When you sign up for an interview, we'll provide you with some guidelines about how to get a conversation started and how to keep it moving along. The main goal is to have the conversation flow from topic to topic through open-ended questions.

Interview Accessibility

The audio files will be archived at the Historical Society of Princeton and will be made available to the public on this site.