Oral History Workshop – 10


Shahed Yazdan
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The oral history website is going to provide the educational materials of some oral history workshops to the audience in written form. The present series has been prepared using the materials of one of these workshops. As you will see, many of the provided contents are not original or less said contents, but we have tried to provide categorized contents so that they can be used more.





There are three methods for editing an interview text; our policy determines which method to be selected.


First method: the text of the interview should not be manipulated much, it just becomes eligible with the punctuation marks, and if it is not advisable for some parts to be published, dots are placed instead of the words of the narrator and finally the text of the interview is published with minimal changes. The Oral History Project of Iran at Harvard University [1] claims to have done this.

In this method, since it is said that a historical document is going to be produced, no editing is done in the text and only the questions and answers are published in the same way as they were done.


Second method: It is exactly the opposite of the first method. Some editors, after reading the memories in the interview, rewrite it with their own pen. In this method, the information is received from the interview, but its type has changed.


• In the first method we see the minimum change and in the second method the maximum change.

• The first method is closer to the document and the second method to the story.

• In the first method, the edited text is cited without any attractiveness and the produced text with the second method is attractive without citing.

Although these two methods have audiences and supporters, they are not very popular among the experts. Even the oral history project of Harvard University after publishing its first books tried to make changes in the method of doing its work to make it more attractive.


Third method: This method is a middle one and a combination of the first and second ones, which are usually used in oral history books for editing. In continuation of this training, the third method will be explained.


This method (the third method) has several steps that are explained in order.


Reading the interview text several times


In the first step, the text of the interview should be read several times. This should be repeated until the editor identifies with the narrator. At this stage, you should have domination over all the memories and be able to retell the memories as the narrator has said.


Removing repeated items


There may be repeated topics during the interview sessions. In the second step, these repeated items are removed. In the meantime, complete items should be kept and nothing should be missed.


Finding ambiguous items


In the next step, the items that may remain unfinished or are vague and ambiguous for the editor should be extracted.


Supplementary interview


After extracting incomplete and ambiguous items, these items should be received from the narrator using a supplementary interview and fixed again in the appropriate place in the interview text.


Determining the audience


The editor or the policy maker or the project manager should determine the audience of the book. To continue editing, it is very important to know for what type of audience and with what level of literacy the final product is going to be written, so that based on that we can do the next step, i.e. rationalization.


The type of audience is different for different projects, but for example, in the Office of Resistance Literature of Tehran’s Art Center, the audience of the book is usually considered to be undergraduate students.

Rationalizing the names and vague points


During the interview, the narrator may have used nouns such as names of places, events, people, incidents, terms, etc., which are vague and unfamiliar to the audience. At this stage, it is necessary to extract these names and write additional explanations for each one. As mentioned, these names and rationalization will be chosen based on the type of audience considered for the book.



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