Transcribing Oral History: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Transcribing Oral History

1st Edition

By Teresa Bergen


208 pages

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Paperback: 9780815350934
pub: 2019-08-08
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Transcribing Oral History offers a comprehensive guide to the transcription of qualitative interviews, an often richly debated practice within oral history. Beginning with an introduction to the field and an overview of the many disciplines that conduct and transcribe interviews, the book goes on to offer practical advice to those looking to use transcription within their own projects. A helpful how-to section covers technology, style guides, ways to format transcripts and troubleshoot the many problems that can arise. In addition to the practicalities of transcription itself, the book encourages the reader to consider legal and ethical issues, and the effects of troubling audio on the transcriptionist. It explains how scholars can turn recorded interviews and transcripts into books, films and museum exhibits, enabling the reader to understand the wider concerns surrounding transcription as well as the practical uses to which it can be put.

Based upon the author’s personal experience as a freelance transcriptionist and interviews with more than 30 professionals working around the world in the oral history and qualitative research fields, this is an indispensable guide for those involved in interviews and transcription at any level of an oral history project, including historians, transcriptionists, interviewers, project administrators, archivists, researchers and students.


"Writing with clarity and wit, in Transcribing Oral History, Teresa Bergen presents a comprehensive overview of transcribing methodology. She defines best practices and, drawing on examples from around the world and extensive experience, discusses the critical role of a transcriptionist as active, professional member of an oral history team. A must-read for anyone working in oral history and qualitative research."

Barbara W. Sommer, Oral Historian and Author, USA

"Transcribing Oral History is an engaging and practical book that will be a fantastic resource, not just for transcriptionists but for oral historians more generally who need to better understand how representation of their interviews affects people’s understanding of them. This is an important companion work for anyone working in oral history."

Mary Larson, Associate Dean for Special Collections and Puterbaugh Professor of Library Service, Oklahoma State University Library, USA

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables and Boxes




Chapter One: About Oral History and Transcription

Chapter Two: Getting Started

Chapter Three: Transcription vs. the Alternatives

Chapter Four: Technology and Equipment

Chapter Five: Transcription Step by Step

Chapter Six: Hard Decisions

Chapter Seven: Editing and Polishing

Chapter Eight: Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Chapter Nine: The Human Side of Transcription

Chapter Ten: Using Transcripts for Research

Chapter Eleven: Conclusions


List of People Interviewed in Book



About the Author

Teresa Bergen is a freelance writer and transcriptionist based in Portland, Oregon. She has transcribed, indexed and edited qualitative interviews for more than 20 years, and is a member of the Oral History Association. Her articles appear in many consumer magazines and websites.

About the Series

Practicing Oral History

Oral history offers tremendous opportunities for interpreting the past and the increasingly complex present through the words of those who have lived it. The recorded interview, along with careful planning, solid background research, and archiving, form the basis of oral history methodology. Practitioners in public history, cultural heritage, library science, education, documentary, community activism, and local history groups wish to incorporate oral histories into their own work, and they need a road map for doing so.

The 'Practicing Oral History' series fills this gap. Titles consist of concise, instructive books that address the special circumstances of oral history within a specific user community. Each title provides practical tools for conducting and presenting an oral history project that interprets the best practices and ethical considerations of a particular context.

Ideas and proposals for new titles are welcome. Send queries to series editor Nancy MacKay,

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Historiography
HISTORY / Social History