Correcting for the fallibility of memory is the critical task, and for this there is no substitute for preparation.
An entire workweek spent preparing for a single interview is none too lavish.
Getting permission to do an interview, and if possible to tape it, is the first task of the oral historian.
Arrangements may have to be made to protect confidentiality; elaborate protocols about this have been worked out by anthropologists, which historians may emulate.
Although anyone who could remember slavery would by then have been well over 70 years old, the subsequently published interviews nevertheless tapped a rich vein of family stories as well as personal memories.
An enterprise on a similar scale is being carried out with survivors of the Holocaust; now, however, thanks to videotaping, one can see the interviews and not merely read edited transcripts of them.
Roman historiography and its form originated from the Greeks during the time of invasion, however, historians depicting Roman history has modified it and changed it into something unique to Roman culture and lifestyle.
Specific characteristics are its allegiance to the Roman state and its moral ideals; the historians’ factions as revealed to how each “story” begins, flows and ends; its evolution into different forms of presentation – the annalistic and monographic traditions; and the practice of rewriting history to suit the author’s intentions.
One of the first great collaborative efforts in oral history was the interviews with former African American slaves conducted in the 1930s by researchers working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
People remember things that historians have no independent way of discovering; however, they also seem to remember things that did not happen or that happened quite differently.
And, of course, they often fail to remember things that did happen.
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This concluding section surveys contemporary historical practice and theory.