Reflections from a Volunteer Oral History Interviewer

The Zoom H4nSP recorder we use to record oral history interviews. It's much easier to use than it looks!
The Zoom H4nSP recorder we use to record oral history interviews. It’s much easier to use than it looks!


Charlotte Cain, one of our oral history volunteers, shares why she decided to get involved with the Speaking Out project and her experience of conducting her first interview.

Hi, I’m Charlotte and I have been lucky enough to be included in the Speaking Out project as an oral history interviewer. I am currently studying towards my honours degree in history at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I felt drawn to this project due to my interest in the history of gender studies within the United Kingdom.

After finding out I was successful, I attended the induction and oral history training with Scottish Women’s Aid. While I had a basic understanding of domestic abuse and the Women’s Liberation Movement of the Seventies, these sessions were truly eye-opening and I found myself getting choked up on several occasions upon learning about the many types of abuse that exist.

As the day of my first interview was approaching I found myself getting extremely nervous; what stories would I hear? Would I remember to turn the recording equipment on? Would I manage not to say ‘um’ continuously throughout the interview? Sufficient to say all my worries were for nothing. I met with the interviewee at her office on a Thursday afternoon. She was a lovely woman and put my nerves to rest instantly. We started the interview after getting to know each other for a short while. I remembered to turn on the recording equipment and began asking our set questions, then before I knew it half an hour had passed and the interview was over.

I left the interview feeling extremely lucky to be involved with such a great project. Listening to the wonderful work that Women’s Aid has been doing over the last forty years and the challenges women have faced and the many changes that are still to be made was inspiring. I’m excited to conduct more interviews and see the finalised project come together, however the transcription process is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to!

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