This is an example of a preliminary oral history interview letter. This letter was sent out by Dr. Paul Sandul to potential interviewees associated with the local African American Heritage Project. Note: explanation of purpose, potential uses, value, and reassurance of interviewee's valuable insights.
Dr. Paul Sandul
Department of History
Stephen F. Austin State University
Dear [Interviewee Name]:
My name is Dr. Paul Sandul, and I am an Assistant Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) teaching a graduate-level oral history course that is working with the African American Heritage Project (AAHP) of Nacogdoches. I am writing to invite you to participate in a new oral history research project to document the lives and rich community of African Americans in the Nacogdoches area. Specifically, in cooperation with AAHP, you were part of a list of individuals important to and/or knowledgeable of the rich history of the African American experience and community in Nacogdoches over the past several decades. The majority of interviews will be conducted at the place of the interviewee's choosing, however, arrangements can be made for you to come to SFA if you prefer. The interviews will be recorded digitally and interviewees will be provided with paper copies of the final transcripts and a CD of the audio recording. Through the History Department at SFA in collaboration with the Ralph W. Steen Library at SFA, transcripts and sound files will be deposited at, and made available to researchers via, the East Texas Research Center. As per Oral History Association guidelines, all interviewees retain the right to review and edit their interview transcript before the final version is deposited and, if they wish, to place restrictions on the availability of the interview.
The students are scheduled to do the interviewing during the last few weeks of June 2010. Please do note that AAHP has provided us with a rather long and impressive list of individuals to interview, which is a further testament to the rich history of Nacogdoches. With that said, we regrettably might not be able to interview everyone AAHP has helped us to contact because interviewing is subject to how many students actually enroll in the course. If for some reason you receive this letter but are never contacted by a student, I apologize. I hope that you will understand. It will not be because we did not want to interview you, but because we ran out of hands to help.
I sincerely hope that you will consider participating in this important effort to document the history of the African American community in the Nacogdoches area. A graduate student will likely be contacting you via telephone or email in the near future to confirm your interest in being interviewed. Please feel free to contact me as specified below with any questions.