Sciences : histoire orale
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Why Transcriptions (Rather Than Audio Recording) ?

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Why do we make transcriptions of audio recordings available rather than the recordings themselves ? Beside the problems linked to the audio quality of actual interviews, we have chosen to use the interviews’ transcriptions rather than the audio recordings so as to fix and stabilize the oral source. Memory is not more immediate than history : the memorial process has to be built up and, to a certain extent, fixed in agreement with the interviewee. That is why we systematically ask the interviewees to validate the transcription of their interview. The transcription is still more literal than literary but it adds a certain distance to the intersubjective and singular situation of the interview. By “resaying” the actual words, by “cleaning” the text as few as possible, by removing a few mistakes in agreement with the interviewee or to his or her will, the transcription is a source by itself, which can be then used by other people. Although the making context of the oral archive remains permanently present, and even sometimes remembered by scenic information (“X handles the model,” “X draws a schema,” “X is bursting out laugh”), the written transcription gives to the oral archive a certain autonomy from the context of making.


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