How to Send Your Stories

The AAC is collecting stories about the history and culture of climbing.

Here are a few simple guidelines (thanks to Jason Albert for his assistance!):

Guidelines For American Alpine Club Audio Interviews

This website is a valuable resource in terms of understanding what an oral history is. One key component is that oral histories focus on the telling of past events.

A few key principles to keep in mind:

  • Take your time, do not rush the process.
  • Be focused with many prepared questions. Yet listen intently for an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. Be open to the conversation going in an unintended direction.
  • Oral histories are not meant to be confrontational. Be open with your subject. I always offer my subject an opportunity to preview questions prior to the interview. This allows the subject to be prepared as well.

Developing questions for your subject and Interviewing:

  • Your research will certainly provide insights in terms of what questions to ask. Be creative, especially with climbers who have received much exposure via documentaries, profiles, and books.
  • The “StoryCorps” (Airs on NPR) website is a wonderful resource. Go to the site below and use their DIY guide for developing questions.
  • I may have four pages of questions before an interview, yet I may only ask five questions during a two-hour span. The subject will often guide the interview in a fashion that is coherent and chronological. If this occurs, the interview may need less direction from the questioner. The interviewer helps maintain flow, pace, and references of possible.
  • Do not be afraid to turn the recorder off, collect your thoughts, and discuss with the subject how you would like to direct the conversation.
  • Introduce yourself and the subject at the beginning of the recording. Also state the recording location and interview date.


  • Attempt to find a quiet room. Turn off phones and schedule the interview during a time when disturbances are at a minimum.
  • Without a sound booth, picking up background noise is almost inevitable. During a recent interview, my microphones picked up background noise from a forced air heater. Good mics pick up even low-level noise.
  • Use a good digital recorder with xlr inputs for a microphone. This entails using external mics. The website has an excellent review on digital recorders and microphones.
  • Record in a format that includes as much data as possible. (Do not use mp3 format for your master recording.)
  • Practice using your equipment beforehand. And ensure your recording levels are set and modified accurately.
  • Wearing headphones is a must to ensure you get an accurate impression of the recording levels and any background noise that is picked up.
  • Member Patrick Shepherd recommends Hipcast, a web-based method for those who do not want to buy equipment. We haven’t tried it yet, so let us know what you think!

Editing software:

  • I believe you may want to use software a bit more advanced than Garageband type editing software.
  • Audacity is a free audio editing tool that will have the capacity for excellent editing and audio enhancement. Go to the site below for a free download.
  • Some users (like me) have had issues using Audacity. I had some crashing problems and ultimately moved to an Apple based program titled “Logic”. It is a very powerful tool, but most likely excessive if you are unfamiliar with audio editing software.   The library uses Audacity for audio, and Handbrake for video.

Release Forms:

  • Securing a signed release form is essential. Download and use the AAC Interview Release
  • By obtaining the signature of the interviewee and the interviewer, rights to the audio become the property of the AAC unless other arrangements are made.
  • Scan a signed release form after the interview and email to the AAC library for their records.
  • This is a simple release form that minimizes verbiage and keeps it simple.

Sending In the Interview:

  • Send us a CD or DVD by mail
  • Send us the file by email
  • Sign up for a free Dropbox account, put the file in there, and send us the link
  • Post the interview anywhere on the web and send us the link.
  • We will make every attempt to add your interview to the online collection as soon as possible, but please be patient.



2 Responses

  1. Cogi – an online service is very good for recording and transcribing the interview – but check for typos.

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