Oral History Interview Prompts and Questions
We have designed this project so that our community can reflect upon, share, and document their pandemic experiences. We hope to foster connections within our community and to preserve a record of both individual and shared experiences for posterity. Consider this a chance to add your voice to the historical record.
You can record yourself or you can step outside your own experience and record the stories of others. Perhaps you would like to record a family member or friend who has a unique story to tell. If you’d like, you can take turns and interview each other.
Here are the steps to recording your own Oral History…
STEP 1: SELECT YOUR EQUIPMENT
First you will need a device to record your story with. Many smartphones, tablets, and laptops already have recording apps installed. If you have an iPhone (or Mac) the default is Voice Memos. For Android users, there are many free options out there if your phone doesn't already have a voice recording app. You also have the option of recording a video using a camera or your phone.
STEP 2: FIND A QUIET SPACE
Find a quiet room where you won't be interrupted and place your recording device on a stable surface. If you have an iPhone, the standard earphones have a microphone built in – but try not to move around as you talk. If you don't have a microphone to speak into, you can place your phone or other recording device in front of you, about one or two feet away.
If you are recording video, try to use a tripod or another method to stabilize the camera. Find a quiet, well-lit room and do not put the interviewee directly between the camera and the light source (window/lamp).
STEP 3: PRESS RECORD AND TALK
Under normal circumstances, an interviewer would ask questions for you to answer. For this project, you may need to be both the interviewer and interviewee. To help you with this process, we have created a set of questions for you to answer.
The questions below are prompts to help you complete your own oral history. You can also add your own questions. You are not required to answer any or all of the questions listed below. They are just a guide to help you get started. You can simply share a story of your experience during the pandemic.
Be sure to turn on your recording device before you begin talking.
- Begin by stating your name (unless you wish to be anonymous), location, and the date.
- Did you have to relocate? When? Where did you live while courses were held online?
- Did you continue working during the lockdown? What is your job? How was it affected during the lockdown? Were you able to work from home?
- Have you had COVID-19? What was that like?
- Do you know anyone who had COVID-19 (do not use names)? How were they affected?
- Have you been vaccinated? What was that experience like and how does it feel to be vaccinated?
- What was your daily life like during the pandemic?
- What were some of the hardships you experienced during the pandemic?
- What has surprised you about working/learning/teaching remotely?
- Are there specific things about being on campus that you miss?
- What were the biggest challenges you experienced during lockdown?
- What were your social connections in this time of physical isolation?
- How has the recent anti-racist movement impacted you? What role, if any, did the pandemic play in this impact?
- How did you stay in touch with loved ones?
- What hobbies have you most enjoyed doing during the pandemic?
- How have your family and friends been affected by the pandemic?
- Who did you self-isolate with? What is that experience like?
- What did you most looking forward to doing once you were vaccinated? What did you do?
- What are you grateful for?
- What has been the biggest change for you?
- What is the worst thing that has happened so far?
- What is the best thing that has happened so far?
- What do you think you will remember most about this time?
- Has your perspective on life changed because of the pandemic? In what ways?
- What would you like people in the future to understand about your pandemic experience?
- What kinds of changes would you like to see? How will you contribute to rebuilding the world? What will you do differently?
STEP 4: NAME AND UPLOAD YOUR FILE TO THIS WEBSITE
Upload your file here. If possible, include a photograph of the interviewee that we can associate with the audio.
Recordings can be any length.