Book Review: The Oral History Workshop by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson — Part I


(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

The Oral History Workshop* by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson. (Click photo to enlarge.)

I haven’t posted for a few days but want you to know that I haven’t been slacking! I’ve been enjoying every minute of calling and writing to people about sponsoring the digitizing of the oral history recordings of their loved ones. The response to making those contacts has been so heart warming.

If you have no idea what I’m referring to, the first paragraph of this blog’s oral history article provides a link to an explanation. The second paragraph of that same article includes a link for a spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet indicates the names of all of the people who were interviewed through the Rolfe Public Library’s 1980-1981 oral history project.

* * * * *

I’m excited about the book The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your family and Friends* by Cynthia Hart and Lisa Samson. With a cover price of $12.95, this book is well worth the expense. I picked it up at Barnes and Noble.  It is also available at and

Although this book mainly addresses interviews involving more than one person, this book includes helpful tips and questions applicable to self-interviews, as well.

The site says, “The Oral History Workshop breaks down what often feels like an overwhelming project into a series of easily manageable steps.” Those are my exact sentiments. The table of contents indicates five main areas covered over the course of the book. The first four of these areas include: preparing for the interview, recording and troubleshooting the interview, mapping out the interview, and preparing and preserving the interview. The fifth main area is writing, scrapbooking and archiving the interview. The first four parts, and the archiving section in the fifth part, are most relevant to me.

Of two books I’ve read about conducting interviews to capture oral histories, this one “wins” hands down. It offers a wealth of advice that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, and that isn’t necessarily common sense. Also, the advice is not with linear thinking. The authors realize there are many types of situations with a variety of dynamics.

I’ll post Part II on Friday, January 29th.

* Published by Workman Publishing, New York, 2009.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


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