In early 2020 Oral History Australia advised members to put their oral history projects on hold as it became clear that face-to-face interviews would not be possible due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
As the pandemic continued, those wishing to continue their oral history projects began exploring remote interviewing techniques. This page is dedicated to providing resources for those interested in remote interviewing for a range of reasons including social distancing for health reasons and/or making oral history more accessible at a distance.
Remote interviewing, particularly during a pandemic, involves a range of challenges including those related to consent, the conduct of interviews and related technology. A number of guides have been prepared by international associations.
Oral History Society (UK):
- Advice on interviewing during COVID-19 pandemic – https://www.ohs.org.uk/advice/covid-19/
Oral History Association (US):
- Remote interviewing resources – https://www.oralhistory.org/remote-interviewing-resources/
Equipment & technology
Oral historians are using a range of equipment and online platforms to conduct remote interviews. These range from audio-only interviews, often using podcasting platforms, to those incorporating video through platforms such as Zoom.
Audio and video quality will depend on the facilities available to the interviewee such as their webcam and microphone but online platforms can also help.
A few of the best:
- Oral History in the Digital Age
- Digital Omnium – Doug Boyd Blog
- Oral History Association – Remote Interviewing Resources
There are many videos available that can assist with the remote interviewing process. Here are a few examples:
Improving video and audio recording
- Tips for better audio quality with Zoom
- Tips for better looking video calls
- How to look good on video calls
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds we are reminded of earlier pandemics and are conscious of the need to record experiences during extraordinary times. Here are some projects and guidance that may be of interest:
COVID-19 storytelling initiatives – Access a world map with links to COVID-19 history projects currently underway.
First Nations experiences – The Koorie Heritage Trust have set up a digital platform for First Nations people to be heard during these unprecedented times. KHT Voices presents a series of short essays, interviews and stories about how communities are responding to the COVID-19 crisis and invites contributions in any format.
Voices of Quarantine project – Sydney filmmaker Aprille Asfoura is gathering stories and experiences throughout the lockdown with the hope of creating an archive to document what has happened socially during the pandemic and how we recover from it. If you’d like to find out more or submit a diary or an experience you’ve had, please send an email to
Questions list – Oral History Queensland has produced some suggested questions to use in an interview about life and COVID-19.
Interviews about 1919 pandemic – The National Library of Australia’s Oral History and Folklore collection includes a number of interviews with people who experienced the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic. Read and listen to some highlights.
Memory Bank – The State Library of Victoria is inviting Victorians to contribute photos, and sound and audio files to Memory Bank showing everyday experiences of the pandemic.
International digital journal – The Melbourne History Workshop in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne has launched the Melbourne node of A Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of Covid19, in collaboration with our friends at Arizona State University, who initiated the project on 13 March 2020.
Sounds from the lockdown – The Cities and Memory sound project is inviting anyone from around the world to send a sound recording describing how things are in your location as you experience the COVID-19 lockdown. The sounds and stories are available via an interactive map.
Memories, food and the pandemic – A group of oral and public historians in Canada are calling on historians and storytellers throughout the world to share a food memory and a recipe that reflects on this pandemic.