Frequently Asked Questions

What is oral history? 

Oral history refers both to a method of recording and preserving oral testimony and to the product of that process. The resulting interviews are primary historical documents that are preserved and made accessible to future researchers and members of the public. Oral history adds to our understanding of the past and provides the opportunity for a narrator to tell his or her story. 

How long does the interview take? 

Most interviews last 1-2 hours. 

What questions can I expect to be asked during an interview? 

The questions asked will arc from childhood to modern day, with the greatest emphasis being placed on the participant’s time at William & Mary. Topics about childhood/time preceding W&M will include where the individual grew up, family structure/dynamic, and how the individual chose W&M. Topics covered regarding participant’s time at W&M will include best memories, most difficult memories, mentors and support systems, student activities, the sociopolitical climate on campus, and major events from the time period. The interview will also include discussion of life post-W&M, including topics such as previous and current employment, how W&M shaped professional trajectory and/or prepared individual for life post-W&M, individual’s continued involvement with W&M (if any), and observations of change over time. 

How can I add someone to the list for consideration? 

The easiest way to add someone to the list for consideration is to fill out the nomination form included on this website.  

Where can I access the oral histories that have already been compiled/finalized? 

Depending on when the interview was completed, these can be found through the digital archive at https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/. Interviews for the 50th and 100th will be made available through the oral history website.


Our Process

  1. Identify interview subject 

  1. Reach out to interview subject 

  1. Set interview date/time/location 

  1. Establish list of questions based on research and project goals 

  1. Conduct oral history interview 

  1. Process video 

  1. Outsource transcription 

  1. Send completed oral history packet including copy of interview, transcript, and forms, to interview subject for final review 

  1. Place oral history in Special Collections archive 

  1. Make oral history available through website, exhibits, videos, etc.