FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions


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  • What is oral history?

By oral history, we mean:

  1. Oral testimonies and stories of people about certain historical events or periods.
  2. People’s stories about the history of the area where they live.
  3. Life stories of people who belong to a particular group.

Oral history brings the history of groups that have been neglected into focus. From there, the existing historiography can be questioned critically. It is also a way for groups and communities to engage with history themselves.


  • How do you collect oral history stories?

The stories are collected through (open) interviews. Oral history interviews are therefore very different from most journalistic interviews. Read here how to conduct a good interview.


  • Recommended reading: Oral History – the people and their stories by Selma Leydesdorff)


  • What does the Hub do?

The Hub connects people and organizations who are involved in oral history in one way or another. They do this by interviewing, conducting research, ensuring the preservation and searchability of interviews and/or by presenting the stories to the public.


  • Which organisation is the Oral History Hub part of?

The Oral History Hub is an initiative of the BMP Foundation. The idea is to make as many connections as possible between organisations like archives, museums, universities, historical societies and social initiatives. After about three years, the BMP will transfer the “Sprekende geschiedenis” hub to a national institute which will guarantee its continued existence in the longer term.


  • What does a steering committee do?

The steering committee contributes to the content of the Hub’s programme, chooses the themes to be tackled by the Hub and helps to determine to which national institute the Hub will eventually be transferred.


  • How can I become a partner?

Organizations can sign up as partners of the hub. They will pay an annual contribution (linked to the size of the organisation). In return, they can call on the support of the Hub and also put subjects on the agenda themselves. For more information, please send an e-mail to


  • How can I contribute in another way?

You can volunteer at an archive, heritage organisation or museum in your area. They are often looking for interviewers. You can report to the Centre to help with checking transcriptions (written interviews). We are also looking for people who want to help digitise interviews.


  • I want to work with you, who can I contact?

Please contact Saskia Moerbeek, director of the BMP Foundation, via e-mail or telephone 020 – 428 27 28.


  • I would like to do an internship, what are the possibilities?

There are possibilities for students who are following an MBO, HBO or University course. The internship may be about the technical side of oral history (digitising, for example), treasure hunting (mapping existing oral history collections) and/or analysing oral history material.


  • I want to attend a tailor-made training course, is this possible?

There are various people who give oral history courses. For an overview, click here. The Focal Point occasionally organises tailor-made courses for partners, and there is an online introductory course in oral history that is given about once every quarter.


  • I want to tip a collection or research, how do I do this?

If you would like to submit an interview collection, an ongoing project or a research project for the website, please fill in a form here.


  • Are there any manuals on how to record an interview?

Yes, there are. Take a look at: How to prepare an interview technically.


  • I want to do something with oral history in education, where do I start?

We have an overview education page on our website.
There is a website: oral history in the classroom of the Hogeschool Arnhem-Nijmegen. That website is a good starting point. There are also various projects, such as the project “the walls have ears” and “war in my neighbourhood“, in which primary school pupils interview elderly people.

You can always email us if you have a specific question.


  • What is the best program/software technique to use for transcribing?

There are different programs for different users. Some are from major software developers (such as Microsoft) others are from universities. Click here for more information. 


  • What equipment do I need to conduct an interview?

Oral history interviews are recorded in full. You can record only the sound, but working with image and sound is even better. You can use your phone for recording or a video recorder. Don’t forget to save your interviews in a safe way. Also pay attention to the quality of the audio and video. Information about minimum standards will be online soon.


  • What is meant by source material?

Source materials are the original unedited recordings of oral history interviews and their literal transcriptions. Source material is very important from a historical point of view.


  • Where can I find standards for preserving/archiving material?

That is quite complicated and differs per archive. We are working on it. The most convenient way is to contact us. We will then look at what best suits your needs.


  • How do you guarantee diversity and inclusion in what you do? E.g. 4 p’s?

Oral history is in itself a good way to contribute to diversity and inclusion in historiography. But there is more. It’s also about the staff of organisations, the programmes and the audience that presentations are aimed at. We have a large and diverse network and are happy to think along about where to find suitable people and how to reach different audiences. There are also various experts associated with the Centre who are happy to help you think about your organisation’s principles and working methods.


  • If I want to learn more about oral history, which books and articles do you recommend?

Oral History – de mensen en hun verhalen. Selma Leydesdorff – (Uitgeverij Prometheus, Amsterdam, 2021)


The voices of the past – Paul Thompson – (Oxford University Press, London / New York, 1978)