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How To Record: Foxfire And BPR COVID-19 Oral History Project

Photo courtesy of Foxfire Mountain Heritage Museum
Share your pandemic experience with BPR and Foxfire. Here's how to record your oral history.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is partnering with Foxfire Mountain Heritage Museum to launch a campaign to collect oral histories about the COVID-19 pandemic in Appalachia. The goal of the project is to record our region’s experiences with COVID-19 and to bring together the Western North Carolina community during this time of isolation.

How to Participate

We want to hear from you! If you live in Central/Southern Appalachia, or are from the region, consider sharing your experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic through a self-recorded oral history, journal entry, or visual media. Tell us how the virus has impacted your life. 

Participation is easy. Simply consider the questions included in this document and reflect on your recent experiences. If you choose to submit an oral history, record yourself (on your phone, on your computer, etc.) speaking about those experiences. Feel free to have family members or close friends join you in a conversation. (See below for instructions with multiple individuals). Please submit recordings up to 25 minutes long. If your oral history exceeds this time limit, please contact us for special instructions to submit your file. 



How To Record A Voice Memo 

Newer Androids come with a Voice Recorder app. For older phones,download it from the app store. iPhones come with a Voice Memo app. Do a practice sessions to see how to start, stop and save a recording.

  1. The mic is at the bottom of your phone. Hold your phone flat in front of you, with the mic facing your mouth, tilted at a slight angle for the best sound quality. When recording sounds or other people, point the bottom of the phone toward them. 
  2. Please make sure you’re recording in a quiet place. Don’t sit close to a fan or A/C. Turn off any music or news devices.

Please also share a few images of your experiences during the pandemic with your oral history. Ideally they should be horizontal and a large file size. (Ideal images are 960 pixels by 640 pixels)
Please title the file with the name of whoever is submitting the materials following this format: 

  • COVID19 OH_LastName_FirstName

For written entries, please submit as a word document. For multiple photographs, videos, or documents, please compress into a zipped file before sending.
Please also fill out this release form

Email submissions to covidhistory@foxfire.org with subject heading “COVID-19 OH Project Submission.” In your email, include the completed release form and additional information form. *Release form must be completed regardless of what type of media is submitted!

File Guidelines

  • Audio files must not exceed 25 minutes in length
  • .mp3 and .wav files preferred
  • Rename file with following format: COVID19 OH_LastName_FirstName

Recording with Multiple People

  • Before beginning your discussion, have each individual introduce themselves. This helps us identify who is speaking when.
  • While recording, be sure to not speak over one another. Allow each person time to finish their sentence before another begins.
  • Make sure that each person is equal distance from the recording device. Do a test and listen to audio after it’s recorded. Can you hear each person clearly? If not, change your seating so you're closer together. Up to two (2) 25-minute-long audio files will be accepted for group conversations.
  • Each person included in the audio must fill out their own release form. Please submit these with your audio files. 

Some Questions to Get You Started:

  • Describe the community where you live.
  • When did you first learn about the coronavirus? What were your initial reactions?
  • What were the first few months like during the stay-at-home orders? How did that impact you?
  • How were you affected by closures or restrictions? Did your local government implement any (business/social/educational/financial) closures or restrictions? 
  • How has your opinion or feelings about the virus changed since you first learned about it?
  • How did your community respond to the virus? What surprised you? 
  • Describe any events you witnessed that capture your or your community’s response to the virus. (example: a drive-thru “party,” a virtual graduation, a Zoom conference))
  • How are you responding to the pandemic?
  • How is your response affecting time with family and loved ones? 
  • Do you know anyone who contracted COVID? What was it like for them?
  • Did you get tested for COVID? Describe your experience.
  • Did you get a vaccine? Describe your experience.
  • What lasting impact did quarantine make on your lifestyle or your attitude? How has social distancing changed your life?
  • How do you think the virus will impact Appalachia in the future? How has it already impacted Appalachia?
  • What permanent changes do you expect to see in our society and culture?

For more information about the project go to: https://www.foxfire.org/covid19/

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.