General Instructions: Identify the individuals you would like to interview. Choose people who have knowledge and experience to offer you, and who you think would like to talk to you about their experiences. When you ask for an interview, be polite and explain your reasons for wanting an interview. (You are doing a class project on the history and legends of your community and you think you can learn a lot from speaking to your potential respondent.) Explain that you would like to tape record the interview, if possible, and ask your respondent's permission. Set up a time that is convenient for your respondent. Most interviews are tiring, so don't plan on staying for more than two hours. If there is more that you would like to learn, ask if you may come back again to continue your conversation.
Prepare an interview. Write questions to which you know you would like answers. However, the most successful interviews will be the ones in which your respondent speaks naturally, and tells you stories about what he or she knows and remembers. Therefore, ask questions that will encourage your respondent to tell a story, like "I'd like to learn some of the stories that have been handed down about ___________________ place or person." Or, you can ask "I'd like to learn how ___________ got its name."
1. Where were you born? How long did you live there? What do you remember about your childhood? What were things like then? How do they differ from the way they are now?
2. Do you remember hearing about unusual or important events that happened in this community? Can you tell me about some of them?
3. Can you tell me any stories about some unusual or important people who lived here or who passed through? Who were they, and what made them so unusual or important?
4. I'd like to know how got its name. Do you know the story behind its name?
5. Do you know of any places that no longer exist (buildings, fields, farms, neighborhoods?) Can you tell me about them? What happened to them?
6. What do you think young people today should know about this community? What do you think we should remember?
Before your interview, make sure that your tape recorder works, that you have extra batteries, if necessary, and that you have extra tapes. Bring along paper and pen, in case you want to or need to take notes.
After your interview, transcribe your tapes. Write down what your respondents have told you. While the interview is fresh in your mind, make notes about things you think are important.