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Chicken Charlie Help: Oral History to Book - How much editing (65* d) RE: Help: Oral History to Book - How much editing 01 Jun 01


My "day job" is supervising the archives in the library where I work, so I've transcribed over 120 oral histories & been to a couple of workshops & no end of bull sessions on the subject. Despite all that, I won't be adding much, because you've got some good advice in the previous 40-odd posts.

I would not bother to do the whole text twice. His sentences are not that long and as SDShad et al have pointed out, you have the open of making a full stop and starting a new sentence with 'And.' Orally, I'd say that was OK. A purist is going to say "Don't change it unless it's factually wrong." As to what you do then, a question you raise in a later post, I think there are two cases, or at least I do one of two things depending.

If the persons makes a blatant error and corrects it either immediately or at least in the same paragraph, I just run the correct word, date or whatever, in brackets.

E.g., Joe says "We came out here in 1931. Lived on Main Street for a while. No, that was 1934." I've been known to type: "We came out here in [1934]. Lived on Main Street for a while...."

If the error is never corrected, it stands the wrong way in the text and is corrected in a footnote. "We came out here in 1931 (1)." (1) City Directories indicate the family arrived in 1934.

Don't be afraid to footnote. Use footnotes to correct errors, to explain rare words or phrases, or to point a reader toward other written sources. If more than one person adds footnotes, each should be initialed. I got a diary which had been annotated by a grandson, so I put "K.E." after all his notes and "T.J.C." after mine.

Explain that--and explain your particular editing philosophy briefly--in a short preface. It's basically fair to go in one of several ways as long as the reader knows what you did.

Two more things: Make a copy or two of the tape(s) and make sure the copies are in different places. Finally, unless you know all the spellings of local place-names, a convenient source for confirming spelling is World Book Encyc. Near the map of each state, they list "Towns, Villages and Other Inhabited Places." I use that constantly because what I'm doing right now is databasing a local mortician's funeral books. His clients had been born all over the world and his orthography was strictly pragmatic, so World Book has rescued me many times.

Good luck getting any kind of grant. Our feeling is that that is going to be much harder in this administration--even for state grants, because if the Fed withdraws funding from one area the state must adjust somewhere to compensate. But try, anyway.


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