South End Oral History Project

Oral History Interviewer Job Description

The South End Oral History Project (sponsored by the South End Historical Society in conjunction with UMass Boston Archives and Special Collections) seeks to record the voices and capture the experiences of a wide range of people living and/or working in Boston’s South End (not to be confused with South Boston) during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s—a period of rapid social, cultural, political, and economic change in this historically diverse urban neighborhood. Typical areas of interest would be schools, desegregation,
housing, gentrification, displacement, urban renewal, inequalities in income and social strata, etc.—all the forces and stresses affecting 20th-century urban life. One area of focus will be the students, parents, teachers, and supporters of the Bancroft School, an innovative public school created by South End parents, teachers, and activists in the mid-1960s.


Interviewers would be expected to participate in a one-day introductory session at the Society headquarters on the history of the South End from its beginning in the 1850s to the present day. If necessary, this session could be presented via Zoom, as well as in person. They would be expected to arrange meetings (preferably in person*) with up to ten interviewees who had already agreed to participate and whose names and contact information would be provided by the project organizers. They would be required to secure a signed release and/or deed of gift and to engage in and record, using a digital audio recorder provided by the Project, a relatively free-form conversation of roughly two hours with the person, keeping in mind the areas of interest and steering the conversation as needed. The interview should take a life history format and will follow oral history best practices and methodologies. Interviewers will be required to review a transcript of the conversation with the interviewee to ensure accuracy and completeness and to prepare a draft of conventional metadata for archival purposes.

*Some interviews may take place over Zoom, depending on the status of the pandemic and location of the interviewees/interviewers. In any case, the prevailing national, state, and city protocols and restrictions because of the pandemic will apply.


Academic interest and training in history and social sciences preferred. Substantial undergraduate and/or graduate training required. Completed undergraduate- or graduate-level degree status is optional. Ability and interest in interacting and conversing with a wide range of people is essential. Scheduling flexibility is useful. Residence in or near Boston is required. Experience conducting interviews will be given priority consideration. Spanish-language capability would be a consideration. Ability to work without detailed supervision is a requisite. CV and two letters of recommendation are required.


$100.00 honorarium for one-day introductory session. $500.00 per completed interview (one half upon submission of digital audio files no later than October 31, 2022, with signed release, and one-half upon review of transcripts and preparation of metadata, no later than January 31, 2023).

Contact Paul Wright, Project Coordinator, at Messages may be left at (617) 536-4445. Mailing address: South End Historical Society, 532 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02118.

Bancroft School Class, South End, Boston, 1976