Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Article excerpt

Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences. By Valerie Raleigh Yow. 3rd edition. (Lanhan, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, Pp. xx, 425. $39.00.)

Rarely during the lifetime of an author is a book deemed a "classic" yet this is such a work. Indeed, this can be considered "the bible" for the conduct of oral history interviews. As with any "bible," it contains diverse materials with diverse origins, contains recurring themes, fascinating stories, and cannot be absorbed in one reading. The neophyte will gain insight, strength and guidance from the book's inherent wealth. The experienced practitioner will return for the detailed cautions and procedures in whatever is the moment's topic of need or uncertainty. Noting that this is the third edition should alert a potential buyer to its value within the field. While the title says nothing, it is clear that this edition is significantly updated in more than a superficial way. It takes account of very recent materials in a variety of fields. The source materials behind this book come from neuro-sciences, anthropology, sociology, law, ethics, psychology, the general field of history, and other practitioners of oral history methods.

The first chapter is an almost self-conscious apologia for the professional nature of oral history as a methodology. Its roots are in the neurosciences, and its vocabulary is elevated and technical. This is hard reading and difficult to keep in mind. Those interested in the techniques of interviewing might set this book aside while struggling in this chapter. Following this chapter the book is more readable. Valerie Yow describes a variety of techniques and methods for pursuing the task of recording interviews with clarity and precision. …

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