Thursday, July 08, 2010

Handout: Indexing oral histories

I received a question about indexing audio, but it turned out the institution wants to index oral histories.  A quick search turned up this document, "Indexing oral histories" from the Baylor University Institute for Oral History.  Seems like a good resource to remember for the future.


Martin Locock said...

That is an interesting document but it seems to focus on summarising rather than indexing - without standardisation of terminology it would be difficult to cross-search hundreds of such descriptions to locate specific relevant content. Gievn the choice it might be better to find a single source that was highly relevant, and have to listen all teh way through, than to cope with less precise searches and listen to numerous snippets.

Joan Cope Savage said...

In comparing an oral history to related news archives, I've found I needed to develop an array of keyword synonyms. Neither the oral history source nor the journalists have consistent terms. For example, homicides are seldom called that, in either an oral history or a newspaper article. Many descriptions in an oral history are contextual. 'He went over there and slugged the guy.'='He [name] went over there [name of locale in 1925, name of locale in 2010] and slugged [synonyms: hit, assault, fought, fight] the guy [name, other identifiers].'

Attaching a synonym list to an oral history transcript could help a lot, very much like the MeSH in the NIH data base (PubMed), or perhaps other data bases I know less about. Isn't this already done? I'm not familiar with the profession. I have gotten into the oral history through social and environmental history.