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How do I get started?

Selecting a theme focuses the interview programme and keeps it manageable.  This could be family history, the history of your community, or a single theme such as the Second World War.  It is also important to do background research such as finding out what documentary sources are available and getting a clear framework in your head of what you want to ask.  However a rigid questionnaire approach, with topics in a fixed order, can inhibit you and your interviewee. A checklist for yourself will help ensure you cover the ground you wish, whilst allowing him or her to talk relatively freely.

How do I find people to interview?

Appeals can be made through newspapers, community groups and local history societies.  There are several ways to approach someone to interview but a letter followed by a telephone call is a good way to introduce yourself and the project.  

Do I need a lot of equipment?

Depending on your budget, a range of devices are available from cassette recorders to solid state recorders.  You could also video your interviews.  Whatever you choose it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with how it all works before the interview.   

What are the ethics involved?

Before or after the interview it is important to explain in detail how you intend to use the recording.  Copyright law requires you to gain the interviewee’s permission for the copyright of the interview to be assigned to you.  You must also check if they want to specify any restrictions on its use.

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