The Informed Consent form, and other oral history release documents, will always be important best practice for narrators, interviewers, repository libraries and archives, and, of course, researchers requesting use of materials.

Imagine a scenario by which future relatives or researchers hope to discover information about sound recordings, and no available reference points or finding aids can help to discover content.  Retrieving information, in the future as today, remains dependent on the criteria offered by the researcher’s work.

It is perfectly conceivable that born digital information not preserved properly, or presented by helpful finding aids, will be lost to an abysmal (believe me, you don’t even want to think about it) abyss of irrelevant keywords, search terms, and antiquated databases.

To help prevent this: Document Your Work.

A general definition of informed consent in relation to oral history can be found by reading and repeating already established projects.  Seriously, read, or at least scan, this blogroll, and move on to other sources of information that discuss the importance of clear, concise, and weel-written consent documentation.

My own Informed Consent Release Form makes relevant connections between narrators, interviewers, and sound recording archives.  Notice its chill and to the point single page length.  This particular document bears no institutional logos or contact information, a short form to supplement necessary information for projects, archival institutions, or museums.

Also useful, the Sound Memory Potential Narrator page helps to make initial contact which might be otherwise overlooked.  This form works great when used to make connections through word of mouth, visitor center display literature, or community events.

I highly recommend that staff have access to these forms in an easily shared PDF format (useful for email, blogs, and social media).

The bottom line about documentation: Create documents that can be easily understood, and informs narrators about their access and shared authority during the interview process.

Every interview, and especially potential oral history projects, should have at least one signed narrator informed consent form available.  Oral history release forms help interviewers and narrators create verified proof of informed consent, while at the same time, these documents promote best practice and future accessibility concerns of cataloged narrative recordings.