Lincoln Financial Group

Oral History Guidelines

What is Lincoln’s Legacy oral history project?

Through the Lincoln’s Legacy oral history project, sponsored by Lincoln Financial Group, we seek to explore how the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, both major achievements of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, helped secure the freedom and opportunity that Americans enjoy today.

By choosing to participate in this project, you are going to take part in the creation of your own oral history. You and a family member or friend will discuss the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and its impact on his/her life. You will also get the chance to share your vision of the kind of legacy you wish to leave at the end of the interview.

This is an opportunity to learn how President Lincoln left a legacy through these documents and how their ramifications affected generations. More importantly, by sharing your oral histories you will inspire this generation, and generations to come, to continue the work of our predecessors and aspire to leave legacies of our own. It is Lincoln Financial’s hope that several of these stories can be compiled and published as an anthology, the proceeds of which will be donated to charity.

Project requirements

  • Conduct one 10 – 20 minute interview.
  • Create an audio or video recording of the interview.

Interview requirements and guidelines

  • Interview length: 10 – 20 minutes
  • Select an older family member, mentor or community member to complete the interview.
  • Submit the Oral History Release, Waiver and Consent Form and the video/audio file of your interview. (You can upload a PDF scan of the form or an image of the form that clearly shows each signature.)
  • Ethical guidelines (below) must be followed.

Oral history best practices

Ethical guidelines to follow when conducting the oral history1

  • The interviewee should be selected based on the relevance of his or her experiences.
  • The interviewee should be made fully aware of the goals and objectives of the oral history project. You are responsible for telling the person that you interview that this is a project about President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy of freedom, opportunity and equality, and that it is affiliated with Lincoln Financial Group.
  • You must respect the interviewee’s right to refuse to discuss certain subjects.
  • The interviewee should be fully informed about the potential uses of the material, including deposit of the interviews in a repository, publication in all forms of print or electronic media, including the Internet or other technologies, and all forms of public programming.
  • The interview and any other related materials should remain confidential until the interviewee has released their contents.

 “Principles and Best Practices,” The Oral History Association, adopted October 2009,

 Guidelines taken from the Oral History Association Website,

Interview process

Pre-interview steps

  • Schedule a pre-interview call/meeting with the interviewee to outline the general focus and purpose of the interview, the process involved, and possible questions and topics.
  • Learn a little about the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, and brief your interviewee.
  • Schedule a date, time and location for the actual interview during the pre-interview meeting or phone call.
  • Ask the interviewee to review the Release, Waiver and Consent Form.
  • Familiarize yourself with your recording equipment and its functions prior to the interview.

Interview steps

  • The person you are interviewing must sign the Release, Waiver and Consent Form.
  • At the beginning of the interview session, record the name of the interviewer and interviewee, date, and location.
  • The interview should be conducted in accord with any prior agreements made with the interviewer, which must be documented.
  • Conduct the interview in a quiet room with minimal background noise or possible distractions.
  • Give a brief introduction to the project. In your introduction you should mention:
    • What the project is about. For example, inspiring others, especially children, by sharing stories that reflect Lincoln’s legacy of freedom, opportunity and equality.
    • Mention the two documents – Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment – and the approaching anniversaries.

Introduction example:

I am working on a project about freedom, opportunity and equality in the United States. 2013 and 2015 mark the 150th anniversaries of two of our country’s most important documents: the Emancipation Proclamation, which liberated slaves in the states under rebellion, and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which permanently abolished slavery. The adoption of these documents was spearheaded by President Abraham Lincoln, and they paved the way for new liberties and opportunities for many Americans. To honor Lincoln’s legacy, I am collecting an oral history that highlights the impact of freedom and opportunity on you and your family.

  • Record your own legacy: At the end of your interview with your interviewee, take two minutes to share your personal visions on the kind of legacy you wish to leave.

Interview questions

  • “How have the ideals of American freedom and opportunity developed over your lifetime?”
  • “How has your family been impacted by freedom and opportunity?”
  • “Please share an experience in which the values of freedom and opportunity enabled you to succeed.”
  • “What legacy do you hope to leave for future generations?”

Post-interview steps

  • Exercise appropriate care and storage of original recordings.
  • Label the audio file with < your last name (dot) interviewees last name (dot) the date of the interview >

    Example: Williams.Taylor.02.12.13

  • Make copies of all borrowed photos and memorabilia immediately and return the original copies as soon as possible.
  • You, your legal guardian/parent (if applicable) and the interviewee must consent to the terms of use before any submissions can be made. These should be reviewed and agreed to before the interview takes place.
  • Submit your recording and any pictures through the online tool.
  • Send a thank-you note to the person you chose to interview.

Tutorial Video

How To Record an Oral History

How To Film an Oral History