Interview participants are encouraged to make their oral histories (tapes or transcripts) as accessible as possible, but some persons may prefer to restrict access to their interviews. Interviewees should indicate any restrictions they wish to place on their interviews by indicating it on the release form.
Two forms need to be filled out at the time of the interview:

1) Interview data sheet: used to record biographical data on each informant (name and address, date and place of birth, experience), and information on the interview itself (date, place, name of interviewer).

2) Legal Release & Consent form: A standard legal procedure, obtaining a signed release form (sample), clarifies the conditions under which the interview is made, and gives formal permission for tapes to be put on deposit in archive.

The release form functions: 1) as protection against legal liability; 2) as a contract defining our use of the materials; and 3) as a contract protecting the interests of the informants. If we publish an article, for example, and quote an informant saying something he/she later decides is libelous or damaging, the release form is our leagal protection against litigation.

Lawsuits are very unlikely, but by signing a release form, the informants also give permission for us to deposit their collections of tapes, transcripts, and photos in an archive, to make the materials available to public and scholarly uses and to use the materials in publications. Release forms may also include restrictions protecting the interest of the informants, by forbidding public access until a specified date, for instance, if an informant requires such restriction as a condition of giving the interview. We always obtain a release form, signed by interviewer and interviewee, at the end of the interview.

Release forms typically stipulate conditions of access to materials (giving either complete or restricted access to tapes and/or transcripts), conditions under which the information can be released, and intended uses of the materials. Allowances are often made for the interviewee to add other restrictions (e.g., to be available only after death). Most people are willing to sign without special conditions.

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