LIBR 284-01
LIBR 284-10
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Oral History
Fall 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Debra Hansen
Phone: (657) 278-7288
Office Location: PLS 275
Office Hours: Virtual, by email. Telephone and in-person advising are available by appointment.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
Course Schedule

Angel Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

This is an online course with all course materials delivered via the class Angel site. You will be able to self-enroll in the LIBR 284 Angel class between August 18 and August 25. The access code will be sent via the MYSJSU messaging system after August 15.

The weekly class sessions run from Monday through Sunday. The first week of class will begin on Monday, August 24.

Course Description

This course covers the theory and practice of oral history as a means to expand and enhance the historical record.  The class will focus on the design and implementation of an oral history project as well as archival issues relating to the preservation and management of oral history collections.

Students will conduct an oral history interview and learn the basic procedures of processing, preserving, and making available oral history tapes, digital files, and transcripts.

Course Objectives

At the completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Oversee an oral history project according to professional standards and guidelines
  2. Judge the positive and negative aspects of audio technologies and choose appropriate equipment for creating and storing archival materials
  3. Know the legal and ethical issues involved in tape-recording a person’s memories and making them available to researchers and the general public
  4. Appreciate current oral history processing and preservation practices and techniques
  5. Understand the uses of oral history as primary sources
  6. Participate in oral history’s professional and scholarly community

This course supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • Use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information;
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities;
  • Understand the nature of research, research methods and research findings; retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups;
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations;
  • Evaluate programs and services on specified criteria. 

Course Requirements

Students will be responsible for purchasing or borrowing a digital recorder and external microphone for use in this class.  A list of recommended recorders and microphones, as well as technical specifications, will be provided.

The assignments for this course are:

  • Angel assignments and discussions. Contribute to the 10 discussion forums posted throughout the semester. (2 points each/20 points total)
  • Interview Bibliography. Prepare an annotated bibliography of historical materials used as background research for your interview topic. (10 points)
  • Oral History Interview.  Prepare for and conduct a 1- to 2-hour recorded interview following standard oral history practices and the ethical guidelines established by the Oral History Association.  Selection of narrators will be discussed in class.  (20 points)
  • Interview Transcript.  Transcribe, edit, and audit edit your interview, and submit the transcript to the narrator for correction and approval. (15 points)
  • Interview Tape Summary.  Write a narrative summary of your recorded interview based on elapsed time.  (10 points)
  • Index.  Create a name and subject index for your transcribed interview. (15 points)
  • Final Report.   Prepare a written and oral assessment of your oral history experience based on the Oral History Association’s evaluation guidelines.  (10 points)

Course Calendar and Grading

Due Date
Angel  Assignments & Discussions
20 points
Interview Bibliography 10 points September 27
Oral History Interview
20 points
October 11
Interview Transcript
15 points
November 1
Interview Tape Summary
10 points
November 15
Interview Index
15 points
November 29
Final Report
10 points
December 13

All assignments are due on Sunday by 5 p.m.  Grade points for late assignments will be reduced by 20 percent. 

Course Schedule

Week 1 What is oral history?
(August 24 – August 30)
Week 2 Oral history in the U.S.
(August 31 – September 5)  
Week 3 Developing an oral history project
(September 8 - September 14)
Weeks 4-7 Research, prepare for, and conduct an oral history interview and participate in Angel discussion regarding the interview experience. New discussion topics will be posted on Mondays during this period.
(September 14 – October 11)

Weeks 8-10 Oral history transcribing and editing
(October 12 – November 1)

Week 11 Legal and ethical issues in oral history
(November 2 – November 8)    
Week 12

Tape summaries
(November 9 – November 15)


Weeks 13-14 Oral history indexing
(November 16 – November 29)

Week 15 Oral history Preservation and Access
(November 20 – December 6)


Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbook:

  • MacKay, N. (2007). Curating Oral Histories. Left Coast Press. Available through Amazon: 159874058X. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Ritchie, D. A. (2003). Doing Oral History. Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0195154347. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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