Waterways Ireland | Oral History Project Guidelines

Oral History Interview Guidelines and Techniques

Discovering Oral History

Oral history recordings help listeners better understand how individuals from various view- points and different stations in society encountered the full range of life in their day, from everyday routines to the more tragic events. Carefully preserved, the recordings can through creative programmes and publications inform, instruct, and inspire future generations.


The Waterways Ireland Oral History Project

The Waterways Ireland Oral History Project is an initiative designed to create and preserve the oral histories of the inland waterways. Begun as a pilot project in late 2015 it has been developed with the aim of building a unique archive collection of the personal stories, memories and experiences associated with the waterways.



Waterways Ireland is actively collecting these oral histories as well as encouraging individual volunteers and groups to deposit relevant oral histories in the Waterways Ireland archive.  It is the intention that oral histories will be curated and archived in full before being made publicly available.



Waterways Ireland Oral History Manual

The Waterways Ireland Oral History Manual was developed by Oral History Consultant Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara to compliment the training programme which was rolled out to interested individuals and heritage groups.  The manual (which can be viewed here) provides the background information to the discipline and equips users with the essential tools and techniques for becoming oral history interviewers. 


Consent & Confidentiality

All interviews will require consent from the interviewee. A consent or clearance/copyright form consenting to their recording and/or photographs being deposited in a public collection and potentially used to create publications, exhibitions, learning resources and made accessible online will be required. This form should be shown to participants before the interview but signed after the interview has taken place. In some instances, due to the sensitivity of the material, people may want part of the interview to remain confidential or only to be released after a set period of time. These requests should be made clear on the form that the interviewee signs and archived alongside the recording for future reference.​



It is important that the interviewee is reminded that he/she owns copyright of his or her recorded words spoken on the recording and that this can be retained or assigned) to someone else. Future publication and reuse of their material is more straightforward if project managers or interviewers seek the transfer ('assignment') of copyright from the interviewee to the project or place of deposit. In practice, where good relationships have been established and maintained, the majority of people are comfortable to assign copyright in the knowledge that their experiences will help build public understanding about the past.


During the interview the interviewee should be fully aware of the following:

·      The interviewee retains copyright of their spoken word but it can be assigned or passed to someone else

·      The interviewee to be made aware of the arrangements for the preservation of the material

·      The interviewee to be asked about any restrictions on the use of the availability of their interview​




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