Oral History Interviewing

What is Oral History?

Oral history is the practice of conducting audio interviews about people’s lives and experiences. It is a co-created space between the interviewer and the narrator (interviewee) that bares a record of someone’s memories. Oral history can function as a one-off (a single interview to record someone’s memories for the benefit of their loved ones and/or community), on a large scale (hundreds of interviews conducted surrounding a single topic, organization, or community), or anywhere in between. Interviews can be about a specific topic or can be a general life history interview. They usually last from one to two hours. I love oral history because of the ways that it allows for the passing on of memory, experience, and embodied history that might otherwise be lost or only recorded in a more filtered way. It is a form like no other.

Relevant Experience

Hi! I’m Jamie Beckenstein. You can find out more about me here and more about my community work here. I have eight years of experience interviewing people for a variety of projects. My largest projects have been interviewing 50 people about their experiences seeing sex in mainstream media to create a documentary theater play in 2014 and interviewing 63 trans elders in rural areas about their experiences of happiness in 2016. Additionally, I have interviewed on subjects such as definitions of sex, condom use among straight men, queer identity in a small town, the college application process in a high-achieving high school, and for the Columbia University LGBTQ+ Alumni Oral History Project.


INTERVIEW: $40-120/hr of interviewing (includes prep work and audio file).

RESEARCH: If research on the narrator or the topic is required, research rates are $20-70/hr of research.

TRANSCRIPTION: $4.00/ recorded minute. (This may seem exorbitant! But transcription actually takes about four times the amount of recorded time, so an hour long interview takes four hours to transcribe.) I can also recommend an external transcription service (and may regardless depending on my current workload).

A NOTE ON THE SLIDING SCALE: I offer this work on a sliding scale because I practice a community-oriented oral history and deeply believe that it is a healing practice that should be accessible to everyone. That said, this is not a casual gig for me, it’s how I make my money for rent and food. If you are able to pay on the upper end of the scale, please do. It supports me in being able to do community work, which you can learn more about here. If the low end of the sliding scale is not possible, please be in touch anyway! We can potentially work by barter (I am particularly interested in trading for Spanish lessons or ASL lessons, but am very open to other ideas).

To book or ask any questions, please use this form or email jamiebeckenstein [AT] gmail.com.