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Oral History Project Guide: Project Lifecycle

This guide describes how to plan and implement an oral history project.

Archival Preservation

Care should be taken to properly store items so they will last as long as possible.  Here are few guides on proper care and feeding of specific formats:

Proper Care and Handling of Works on Paper
Library of Congress
Works on paper generally refer to flat (as opposed to bound) paper materials, including documents, manuscripts, drawings, prints, posters, and maps. Taking care when handling any collection item is one of the more effective, cost-efficient, and easily achieved preservation measures.

Care, Handling, and Storage of Photographs
Library of Congress
Photographs can be made using an assortment of materials and a variety of photographic processes. Proper identification of the photograph’s materials (support, binder, image material, coatings, etc.) and the process of its production is essential for informing appropriate storage and handling recommendations.

Preservation Measures for Scrapbooks and Albums
Library of Congress
Taking care when handling any collection item, especially functional and composite items like scrapbooks and albums with flexing parts and various media, is one of the more effective, cost-efficient, and easily achieved preservation measures.

Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories (report)
By Gabriela Redwine, et al.
This report offers recommendations to help ensure the physical and intellectual well-being of born-digital materials transferred from donors to archival repositories. The report surveys the primary issues and concerns related to born-digital acquisitions and is intended for a broad audience with varying levels of interest and expertise, including donors, dealers, and repository staff.

Here are some guidelines for donating the project collection to a library or archives:

Donating Your Organization's Records to a Repository
Society of American Archivists

A Guide to Deed of Gifts
Society of American Archivists
Deed of gifts are the release forms for libraries and archives; they govern the terms of the gift (who owns it, who owns copyright) to the library.


Lifecycle of the Project

Project Lifecycle Infographic by Leighblackall

If your oral history project is intended as a short term project - the basis of a paper, a class assignment - you should consider what will happen to your data once you are ready to move on to other projects.  Make sure your release form covers whichever option you select.  Here are a few ideas to keep your project going:

Consider donating the project files and records to a library.  Special Collections libraries are a great choice for a permanent repository.

If the local history or genealogy society has its own library, ask if they would like to host the project.

Ask a friend or colleague with similar interests to take over management of the completed project.