Vol 31 (2011)

Editing Oral History for Publication


Linda Shopes, co-editor of Palgrave’s Studies in Oral History series, describes in practical but theoretically informed ways how to edit oral history interviews for publication. After establishing a broad framework, she discusses two key practices involved in preparing interviews for publication: editing and contextualizing. She then details editorial issues specific to three different genres of oral history publications: biographical narratives of single individuals, a series of shorter interviews with several narrators pivoting around a specific topic, and interpretive studies. She concludes with remarks on the role of theory in published oral history. The article is an expanded version of notes Shopes prepared for editing workshops presented at the 2006 and 2008 meetings of the International Oral History Association and annually since 2007 at the Oral History Institute sponsored by the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University. It retains much of the informal, conversational tone of an oral presentation.