Oral Historian

Recount historical events through audio recordings or videos.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$26,000 – $96,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Oral Historians do?

Oral Historians do more than just record history. They find out not only what happened, but also why it happened. Oral Historians focus on the richness of human experiences, and convey those experiences to other people.

As an Oral Historian, you start by gathering information through interviews and lengthy research. If you’re creating a documentary on soldiers returning from war, you collect the names and contact info of those soldiers. You then set up and record interviews with them.

After you’ve collected all the material you need, you edit and compose it into a set of video clips or audio tracks. The purpose of your project is not to create a timeline or give dates and numbers. Instead, you want to capture raw emotion that listeners can relate to. In many ways, you are as much a Journalist as you are a Historian.

You likely work for a college, but you may do freelance work on projects that you find interesting. You distribute your finished projects to libraries and universities, or make them available to watch online.

Like a well-trained Writer, you’re a connoisseur of good narratives. You know what questions to ask and what subjects to approach to create documentaries filled with the bittersweet flavor of all life has to offer. Your work brings stories to life and saves them from drowning in the pages of a stuffy history textbook.

Should I be an Oral Historian?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become an Oral Historian

    Most Oral Historians have a Doctorate or a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:axat9y&chl=|certificate+%2818%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2815%25%29|master%27s+%2848%25%29|doctorate+%2819%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,48
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