Oral History Program

Oral history is the process of collecting, recording, and studying orally gathered information about events, individuals, families, and everyday life.  Oral history also refers to the information so collected and preserved. These interviews can be captured as video tapes, audio tapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews. The interviews are usually conducted with people who participated in noteworthy events, were members of families of note, or because of longevity in an area, are knowledgeable about events. Much of the information obtained cannot be found in written sources.

STHS has joined with the New Hope Historical Society, the Historic Carversville Society,  and the Michener Art Museum to make each organizations interviews more easily accessible. Here is the entry page for the interviews that are currently available.

The STHS Oral History Program refers to two efforts to record new histories of interesting people in Solebury Township as well as people who live outside the township and have interesting memories of past distinguished residents.

  • The New Hope-Solebury High School Program linked to NH-SHS’s Community Service requirement
  • The Community Program

The NH-S HS Community Service Program

Students at the NH-S HS are required to complete community service hours. STHS offers this program in conjunction with the high school to encourage students’ interest in the family and community history. More.

To participate in this program, students must complete a NH-SHS Oral History Consent form and have it signed by their parent or guardian.

The Community Program

The Community Program is open to anyone interested in interviewing people in our community. STHS has a list of ready candidates or we will follow the ideas of volunteer interviewers. In addition to interviewers we need editors who follow up on the interview and create the web based information. This includes creating an introductory paragraph of the subject to present a reason to listen and creating the time markers by listening to the interview and defining the topics and the time they appear in the interview. Please see the Oral History Collections page and look at one of the entries for a quick visual picture of the work. And please consider joining us to preserve history as well as spend time with interesting people!

Training in the art and practice of interviewing is explained below. Anyone interested in this project is encouraged to call 215 297 5091 and leave your name and phone number.


Process and Training for All Oral History Volunteers

All interested volunteers should learn about the reasons for collecting oral histories and the techniques that will help make their interviews memorable. There are many resources on the web. Here are two of them:

  • The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Oral History web page contains a comprehensive guide that reviews the process of collecting oral histories and describes their importance and overall popularity. You can read the information on the site or download the book in .PDF form. Click here for suggested general interview questions.
  • The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission gives a list of important steps to take before, during, and after each interview.
  • The Oral History Association provides information on the principles, best practices, ethics, and “how to” of oral history recording and preservation.

Step by step the process for STHS is as follows.

  1. Interested interviewers and interviewees should contact oralhistory@soleburyhistory.org to review their intended interview, verbal or visual. Aids/instructions for making good interviews are available on the Smithsonian web site.
  1. Both interview participants must sign an Oral History Consent Form and submit it to STHS.
  1. Interviewers should collect the information noted in the Oral History Interview Summary  and submit it as a document along with the actual oral history as an .MP3 on disc or via the internet. The interviewer should try to give as much written ‘history’ in the summary about the interviewee as possible to help us put good information on the web site. If possible give us photos of the person—one from at the time they discuss in depth (for instance, if they talk about a war experience, a photo from that time of their life is great to have) and a current one (time of the interview).
  1. Interviewer is responsible for the consent form and for giving the interviewee a copy of the interview. STHS can help organize copies, if necessary.
  1. Volunteer listens to the interview, writes the tags, and also separately lists the time markers.
  1. Volunteer assures the electronic version of the interview, the summary, tags list, and time marker are submitted to oralhistory@soleburyhistory.org. The webmaster will publish it on the STHS Oral Histories web site.
  1. Volunteer puts a disc copy of the interview in the schoolhouse oral history repository, marked with interviewee’s name and date. Information about the interview is added to the master list of interviews at the schoolhouse.

The recorder

Your phone may be a very good, simple way to record and then download the interview to your computer. Otherwise STHS has a recorder that you should feel free to use and return. Contact Robert McEwan at 215 479 4711.