Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oral History, Lawyered Up

John A. Neuenschwander, professor emeritus of history at Carthage College and a municipal judge for the City of Kenosha, Wisconsin, has published A Guide to Oral History and the Law (Oxford University Press, 2009). According to Oxford, the book is:
is the definitive resource for all practitioners of oral history. In clear, accessible language it thoroughly explains all the critical legal issues, including legal release agreements; copyright; privacy; screening, editing, and sealing procedures to protect against defamation; the protection of sealed and anonymous interviews from courtroom disclosure; the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs); teaching considerations; and the new issues raised by the use of interviews on the Internet. Neuenschwander's central focus is prevention, rather than litigation, and he cites not only the most recent court cases but also examples of procedures and policies that oral history programs have used effectively to avoid legal difficulties. The book provides more than a dozen sample legal release agreements applicable to a variety of situations. This essential volume will be used by professionals, family historians, and students alike.
Blurbs Donald A. Ritchie, the historian of the U.S. Senate:
Here is the essential legal guide for all those who interview, collect interviews for libraries and archives, or use interviews for their own research. As a history professor, lawyer, and judge, John Neuenschwander is uniquely qualified to explain the various aspects of oral history and the law and to help oral historians avoid legal problems and resolve those issues their work may encounter.
And on IRBs and oral history, be sure to read Zachary M. Schrag, "How Talking Became Human Subjects Research: The Federal Regulation of the Social Sciences, 1965–1991" Journal of Policy History 21, No. 1 (2009): 3-37.