Oral Histories

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This project is LSTA grant funded and aimed at digitizing and transcribing the Middletown Digital Oral History Collection. It is presented online through the Digital Media Repository here: http://libx.bsu.edu/MidOrHist/midorhist.php. It consists of the following subcollections:

  • Black Muncie History Project - 23 interviews
  • Black Middletown - 35 interviews
  • Other Side of Middletown - 56 interviews
  • Middletown Jewish Oral History Project I - 21 interviews
  • Middletown Jewish Oral History Project II - 24 interviews
  • Muncie Catholic Churches Oral History Project - 30 interviews
    1. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church Oral History Project
    2. St. Lawrence Catholic Church Oral History Project
    3. St. Mary Catholic Church Oral History Project


We are following the Baylor University Institute for Oral History Style Guide for guidance in transcribing our oral histories.

Supplemental Transcription Information

For most situations the Baylor Style Guide will suffice as our authoritative guide; however, we have decided to make a few minor changes and additions to facilitate our project and to clarify some unaddressed finer points.

Please alert the rest of the project’s staff to any major changes.

Abbreviating Titles: If written in conjunction with any part of the person's name (i.e. first name, initials, or surname) use an abbreviated title.

       Ex.  Dr. Jones spoke with the other doctor.        

However, when referencing a religious title we will write it out unless their full name is given.

       Ex.  Father Murphy prayed with Reverend Harbin.
       Ex.  Fr. Sean Matthew Anderson

Converting to Plain Text: When saving the document as a plain text file make sure to check the “Allow Character Substitution” box. This will modify Word’s smart quotes to normal characters.

Incidental sounds: Use brackets to show incidental and background sounds. Also, use a lowercase letter within the brackets even if they are the first word on a line or in a sentence:

       Ex.  Barry:  [laughter] That was when the truck hit him!

Money: Monetary amounts can be tricky. In general write out all monetary amounts unless they are fractional.

       Ex.  John stole $15.60 from Susan, which made her sad.

If the monetary amount isn’t fractional, and only contains one or two non-zero significant digits write it out. If it contains three or more non-zero significant digits use numbers. Here are a few examples.

       Ex.  John gave Susan one hundred and fifty dollars, which made her happy.
       Ex.  John gave Susan $151, which made her happier.
       Ex.  John gave Susan one thousand and thirty dollars, which made her ecstatic.
       Ex.  John gave Susan $1,703,000, which made her faint.

Pauses: When there is a pause in the recording always use the phrase "Pause in recording." Set pauses in recording in Bold and Italics. These should be separated by a line above and below, and left justified. Only the first word should be capitalized. If somehow you know that the tape or side has ended, for example, if the interviewer says, “The tape is about to end,” indicate so in bolded italics.

       Ex.  Taylor:  I’m going to stop the tape for a minute.
            Pause in recording
            Taylor:  We’re back.

Depending on how the interview ends, center justify the phrase “End of interview” or "End of tape" in bolded italics on its own line. Only the first word should be capitalized.

Place and People Names: In order to make the remaining and future transcriptions less time-intensive, we have decided to add a simple rule concerning place and people names. Since all names are fact checked we need a simple way to be able to find them in the document.

On the first transcription, simply type your best guess at the name and insert a space and a tilde (“~”) after the name.

       Ex.  The undersecretary to the dean is Mr. Joehanson ~ .
       Ex.  I heard Brackon Library ~ has a secret fifth floor.

This will allow the staff member in charge of finding the names to easily locate and replace them.

Quotations: When the speaker is quoting someone, or a group of people, set the quotation inside quotation marks.

       Ex.  He said, “He only gave her one hundred and fifty dollars?”
       Ex.  They replied, “It’s a pretty good book.”

If the speaker is paraphrasing someone, or a group, do not use quotation marks.

       Ex.  They told us what it was, that they had hanged these two boys.
       Ex.  She said she was going to come over.

Keep in mind that thoughts are still set apart using a comma and an uppercase first letter.

       Ex.  I thought, This seems like too many rules.
       Ex.  They must have thought, We can get away with this.

Timecodes: Timecodes should be placed every minute at the end of a sentence as close as possible to the actual minute. They should be in brackets and bold-type on their own line with a space above and below.

       Ex.  Taylor:     Well, I didn’t have any trouble ‘cause at that time the work was very 
                        But I was fortunate that I got a job right off the reel and I have never
                        been out of work since I’ve been in Muncie, but I didn’t have any problems         
                        at all.”

If the minute mark falls in the middle of a sentence place the timecode as close as possible to the correct location without breaking the sentence apart.

Place an ending timecode after the last spoken word and before the “End of interview” text.

             Ex.  Johnson:  Okay, thank you.

Um’s, Ah’s, and Other Crutch Words: In an effort to bring clarity to the transcripts you may leave out any occurrence of a crutch word or guggle unless it’s vital to understanding the speaker’s speech pattern. Each example has what the speaker originally said in quotes and what follows is an appropriate transcription.

       Ex.  “Um, the-a quick br-brown fox jumps over, um [three second pause], the lazy dog-a.”
       Transcription: The quick brown fox jumps over—um, the lazy dog.
       Note: the first um was deleted because it was simply used as a stalling device for the
       speaker.  The second ‘um’ is left in to indicate its use as a lengthy pause. 
       Ex.  “And um, I remember when, um, the church was um just a um convent.”
       Transcription: I remember when the church was just a convent.

Use your discretion on whether or not to include specific crutch words in the transcript. We are trying to create near verbatim scripts, but we also want to be sensitive to the difference between the spoken and written word. If you’re in doubt please ask someone else for their opinion.

Unknown names: In the rare case we cannot track down a name by the last revision, place a space and a [?] after the name with the name spelled as a best guess. This is in contrast to the Baylor Guide and was changed in order to assist the transcript’s flow.

        Ex.  And I told Mr. Joehanson [?] about her.

Common Capitalization and Spelling Questions

In alphabetical order:

  • The Afro-American
  • anti-Semitic
  • Army (capitalize when referring to all US military branches, other countries don't capitalize)
  • bar mitzvah
  • black or blacks
  • The Black Star Press
  • Board (when referring to the title of a specific board like United Way Board, not when speaking in general)
  • Chicago Defender
  • CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish Retreat)
  • Depression when referring to the Great Depression
  • First Communion
  • gentile
  • kosher
  • The Indianapolis Recorder
  • Industry not industry when referring to the specific location in Muncie
  • Journal and guide
  • Mass (the Catholic service)
  • ma'am is not capitalized
  • Regions are capitalized like Midwest, the South, the North
  • Monsignor
  • New World
  • Normal City (referring to Muncie)
  • old country
  • Our Lady
  • The Pittsburgh Courier
  • Temple (when referring to Beth El Temple in Muncie, when in doubt capitalize)
  • sir is not capitalized (unless in a title e.g. Sir Elton John)
  • Sisterhood (the Jewish women's group)
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Vatican II
  • white or whites
  • Whiteley (location in Muncie)

Layout Guide

Spacing and page layout issues:

  • Margins should be 1 inch on each side.
  • No spaces between the top of the page and the header image.
  • Two empty lines after the header image and two empty lines after the information block.
  • A blank line before and after a timecode. Timecodes should only be placed at the end of sentences or at the end of a speaker's uncompleted sentence.
Ex. And then we went--


John had married at that point.
  • Two spaces at the end of sentences.


For digitization procedures, refer to this document created by BSU staff.


  • Black Muncie History Project - Finished. Reel to reel tapes still need to be copied to cassette and digitized.
  • Black Middletown - Finished.
  • Other Side of Middletown - Finished.
  • Middletown Jewish Oral History Project I - Finished.
  • Middletown Jewish Oral History Project II - Finished.
  • Muncie Catholic Churches Oral History Project
    1. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church Oral History Project - Finished.
    2. St. Lawrence Catholic Church Oral History Project - Finished.
    3. St. Mary Catholic Church Oral History Project - Finished.


Label Dublin Core Notes
*Title Title Invert name and in parentheses what the item contains. Example: Bernstein, A. C.(Audio Interview and Transcript). If more than one name, invert the first only. Example: Anderson, Brenton and Kellie Woods (Audio Interview and Transcript). If two items have the same title, add the date to differentiate the two. Example: Abram, Pastor Renzie 01-17-2003 (Audio Interview and Transcript)
*Interviewer Creator Invert names. Separate with semi-colon if more than one. Check controlled vocabulary, and add to it if needed.
Interviewee Creator Invert names. Separate with semi-colon if more than one. Check controlled vocabulary, and add to it if needed.
*Date Recorded Date-created Stick to yyyy-mm-dd format. Use (?) for circa dates and ranges. Examples: 1971(?) ; 1971-1976(?). For two dates, enter separated by a slash. Example: 1980-06-20 / 1980-07-16.
See Photo of Interviewee Relation Link out to picture of interviewee if available.
Run Time Format-Extent Use hh:mm:ss format. Enter in the shortest form possible. We don't need place holding digits. Example: 1:02:03 not 01:02:03, 45:52 not 00:45:52.
Location Recorded Description Don't abbreviate. Most will be Muncie, Indiana
Subject (LCSH) Subject Use LCSH. Example: Oral history ; Muncie (Ind.) -- Ethnic relations ; Jews -- Indiana -- Muncie -- History ; Jews -- Indiana -- Muncie -- Biography ; Jews -- Indiana -- Muncie -- Interviews
Notes Description Add any pertinent information here.
Type (DCMI) Type Sound ; Text
Original Physical Format Format--Medium Audio Cassette (Use C. V.)
Digital File Format Format--Meduium PDF ; Streaming Audio (WMA) (Use C. V.)
Digitization Specifications Format Hidden ; Hardware: Tascam 322 2-Head Dual Auto Reverse Audio Cassette Recorders, PreSonus FIREBOX 2x6 Fire Wire Recording System ; Software: Sony SoundForge 8 Audio Editing/Mastering Software, File Type: wav ; Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz ; Bit Depth: 16
Audio File Process History Format Hidden ; Derivatives created: Cleaned wav (Wave X-Noise, Normalize, and ExpressFX Dynamics applied) ; Access wma ; Black Middletown only: Anonymous wma
Digital Date Date--Available Hidden
Digital Identification Identifier Use the base file name for the PDF and WMA. Example: OSM_004
Project Identification Identifier Use if project name is provided.
Archival Identification Identifier Enter Archival id here. Example: R 14
Repository Source Always Ball State University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
Collection Relation-Is Part Of Always Middletown Digital Oral History Project.
Subcollection Relation-Is Part Of Use the name of the oral history project. Select from controlled vocabulary.
Ordering Information Rights Always To order a copy, inquire about permissions, or for information about prices, contact Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries at (765) 285-5078 or via email at jstraw@bsu.edu
Copyright Rights Except for Black Middletown, always Copyright 2007. Ball State University. All Rights Reserved.
Full Text Search Description Hidden field. Automatically created for PDFs. Watch out for special characters caused by accents and em dashes in PDF full text field. Replace them with plain text versions or delete them. They interrupt OAI harvesting.
Full Text 2 Description Hidden field. Use for overflow of transcripts longer than 128,000 characters.
*First three fields display in browse screen

Oral History Conference

A conference about Ball State's Middletown Digital Oral History Project and digitizing oral histories in general was held on September 20, 2007 at the Ball State Alumni Center. For more information see http://www.bsu.edu/library/conference/oralhistory/. Presentation slides are available now.