chapter  5
8 Pages

Transcribing

In the mid-20th century, when the field of oral history was young, interviews were recorded, transcribed, often bound, and deposited into the archives of great universities. Theoretically, a transcript is a verbatim version of the spoken word, analogous to a translation from one language to another. In reality, an exact reproduction of the spoken word is impossible. Much is lost in transferring a unique voice and speaking style to the flatness of print on a page, so much so that the result can be misleading. Transcripts serve two additional functions for the archivist: preservation and access. Paper is the single most stable preservation medium and is always the ultimate backup. It requires no machinery to read, is lightweight, durable, and easily transported. Transcribing is an art and craft that requires skill and judgment, and the transcriber should be included in the oral history team.