The Informed Consent form and other oral history release documents will always be important best practice to narrators, interviewers, and repository libraries and archives.

Imagine a scenario by which distant future relatives or researchers hope to discover information about your sound recordings and no available reference points or finding aids can help discover content. Retrieving information remains dependent on the criteria offered by the researcher.

It is perfectly conceivable that born digital information not preserved by helpful finding aids will be lost in the abyss of irrelevant keywords, search terms, and antiquated database.

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.

My own Informed Consent Release Form was created to make relevant connections between narrators, interviewers, and sound recording archives. Notice the single page length, that the document bears no institutional logos or contact information. This short form supplements necessary information in the event of new history projects, archival institutions, or museums.

Also useful, the Sound Memory Potential Narrator short form 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 easily shared PDF format (useful for email, blogs, and social media).

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 best practice and future accessibility of the cataloged recording.

David Lee

David Lee

Public History at New Mexico State University: Poverty, Homelessness, and Hunger in the New Mexico Borderlands. Email Phone (505) 715-8779

View Full Profile →