Steering Clear of the Rocks

Steering Clear of the Rocks: Ethics and Oral History

by Mary Larson

(Forthcoming,  Oral History Review Volume 40 Issue 1 Summer:Fall 2013, Oxford University Press)


The essay covers the basic ethics from the lens of oral history. It considers formal frameworks for fairness (institutional review boards and the rules they follow), as well as the ethics involved in putting content online, ultimately making an identifiable subject and their ideas accessible to the world (unless the network is down). Issues range from getting proper permissions, to putting interviews on line that were recorded before a digital universe was even imagined. Finally there is challenge of keeping digital content safe from becoming recontextualized.

Why:  If you want to be fair and honest with your subjects about the implications of participating in an oral history, this essay is a great place to start.


This is a production of the Oral History in the Digital Age Project ( sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Please consult for information on rights, licensing, and citation.

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