Tips & Tricks for a High-Quality Oral History Interview

General guidelines:

  • Record one interview per person. Shared interviews are not recommended, as each person has a unique story. It also allows each person to answer their questions without interruption. If a family member is recording your interview, simply ask them to remain silent, and you will do the same when you record their’s. Additionally, the donation process is simplified when interviews are individual. 
  • Be aware of time and file size. We are allowed 512MB (or 512,000KB) for each upload. Interviews that are approximately 30 minutes in length will likely upload with ease. You may also upload your interview in more than one segment by following the upload procedure as many times as necessary. Be sure to remain on the web page until you receive confirmation for each segment submitted. More information about uploading your interview can be found below.

Before your interview:

  • Ensure your device has enough battery or can connected to a charger.
  • Create your video frame by choosing a location in or around your home that is well lit with minimal distraction. Ideally, your device will be stationary on a stable surface (such as a table or tripod), or held still by a family member; however, you may hold your device (such as a cellphone) in “selfie-mode” to record your interview, just be aware of how much you move around.  We recommend placing the device far enough from where you will be sitting to fit your head, arms, and torso in the frame, so we may see all of your expressions during the interview. At the very least, make sure your head will be clearly visible. 
  • Have your questions readily available, as well as any notes you feel are necessary. Don’t feel pressured to answer all 50 questions. Choose 5-10 that resonate with you. You may also prepare a few objects or family photos to show off toward the end of your interview. (See questions here).
  • Make sure your space is well lit. Our eyes adjust more easily to low light than recording devices do, so we recommend a test video. Set your equipment up, get in position, and record for a few seconds. When you replay the video, pay close attention to the quality of the lighting. Is the video discolored (reddish, blueish or greenish)? Can you see your face and torso clearly? Are there any dramatic shadows? If so, adjust by adding lighting or moving to a location with better lighting. 
  • Speak clearly, slowly, and toward your microphone. Quality audio will make or break an interview. A test video will come in handy here, as well. Practice speaking a few sentences of what you plan to say and assess during playback.

During your interview:

  • Introduce yourself. State your name, the date, and where you are recording your interview (“Hello! My name is Jane Doe, it is March 31, 2020, and I am recording my oral history in my backyard in Dallas, TX,” for example).

After your interview:

  • Playback your interview before uploading to our website. Review lighting and sound quality to make sure we will be able to see and hear you, but avoid being critical of how you look or sound. We want your interview to reflect you just as you are. That said, if you’re not happy with the quality, consider re-recording. If you’re not sure, please email our archivist, Jessica, at and she’ll gladly offer guidance. 
  • Upload to donate. You must stay on the page until you receive the confirmation or your upload may be interrupted. The upload page includes a release form, also known as a Deed of Gift. The Deed of Gift is a legal transfer of ownership, acknowledging that you are donating your interview to DJHS and it will become part of our permanent collection. This is a standard form and procedure that we follow for all donations to the collection. We will acknowledge your donation with an official letter at a later date. If you have any further questions regarding the release form or how we will use your interview, please reach out to Jessica at 

Steps to upload:

  • Record your interview. Click here for steps to record using a mobile device of laptop/desktop webcam.
  • Make sure you can access the file on your mobile device or computer
  • Go to the web page via your mobile device or computer.
  • Fill out the release form with your information (or the donor’s information if you are uploading on behalf of a donor in your household).
  • Select “File upload.” A window will pop up prompting you to select a file from your computer or mobile device. Select the appropriate file and complete upload.
  • Your upload may take several minutes depending on your internet connection and our website’s server. Please be patient and await the confirmation. Once you’ve received the confirmation, you are free to close your browser. 

Click here to view more detailed recording instructions