Germinal Luis Fernández interviewed by Miguel Arrébola
The value of oral history lies in giving a voice to those that have traditionally been marginalised from official histories, fro example, women, migrants, the working classes, gay people, etc. Oral history also provides an informal insight into important events that happened in the past and an understanding of how those affected by such events experienced them.
In order to encourage the interviewee to share their views, opinions and beliefs on the issues that affected them, it is important to ask the right kinds of questions.
In these activities, you will consider the nature of open questions and why they are important in life history interviews.
When conducting a life history interview, you are likely to use a range of question-types. In this activity, you will consider your own understanding of what an 'open question' is.
Read the sentences below. Choose the one which you think describes an 'open question.' Then read the feedback.
In this activity, you will consider why it is useful to use open questions.
Read the list of characteristics below. Mark those that you think represent characteristics of an open question. Tick any that apply. Then read the feedback.
In this activity, you will consider why open questions are important for you, as a researcher.
Read the sentences below and mark the ones you think are important for conducting a successful life history interview. Tick all that apply. Then read the feedback.
This interview was made by a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, for a special project called OpenLIVES. He is interviewing a Spanish emigre called Germinal Luis Fernandez. Watch the interview and listen closely for open questions. What is their effect on the interviewee and the content of the interview?
© Irina Nelson and Alicia Pozo-Gutiérrez. University of Southampton. Padmini Broomfield - Oral Historian. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Created using the LOC Tool, University of Southampton