Oral history is a great tool to use in your classrooms. Interviewing elders can bring the past alive like nothing else can. Oral history projects can also improve school-community connections, improve student confidence and communication skills, increase student respect for their communities, offer students a genuine opportunity to make a contribution to preserving history, and engage students in historical thinking (for example, looking at issues of objectivity, memory, reporting, and bias.)
Oral History in the Classroom is a great resource to help you embark on a classroom oral history project. Created by the Montana Historical Society’s Oral History Program, this handy pamphlet includes the information you need (from legal forms to classroom exercises) to teach your students to conduct oral histories.
The Montana Historical Society Oral History Program also loans digital recorders and transcription machines for two weeks at a time on a first come, first serve basis. Its equipment loan form is now online.
Do you have access to a digital recorder but struggle with transcribing interviews? MHS Senior Archivist Rich Aarstad just clued me into Express Scribe Transcription Software.
This nifty free program allows you to control audio playback using 'hot' keys, and offers other valuable features for typists including variable speed playback. (Express Scribe will try to sell you a foot pedal and/or get you to upgrade from the free to the professional version), but Rich says, “don’t bother. The free version with the hot keys works great.”)