Transcribing Part 1: Overview of How Each Interview Was Conducted!

Introduction to the World of Transcribing

This summer was my first time ever transcribing. I always thought from the outside looking in that transcribing could be loads of fun. You basically just write down everything that is said in the interview. It sounds so simple, right? There are numerous online advertisements for individuals to make a job out of transcribing interviews. I always thought it was an easy way to get money.

Needless to say, I was very wrong! Transcribing not only took a lot of time but it also required a lot of patience and durability as well. Dr. Haskins warned me that it would take hours upon hours to fully transcribe each interview. I kind of swept it under the rug when she told me it would take a long time. I’m a student at The College of William and Mary. I know what it is like to spend hours working on assignments for classes. I didn’t understand how challenging transcribing would be until I actually started working on each interview. transcription2    In a perfect world, individuals have perfect dialect and everything they say can be easily understood, technology works perfectly, and we never get off task. In reality, it was very hard for me to understand things that the women would say sometimes which only made the process longer and harder. It took an hour for me to do 10 minutes of an hour long interview some days. Sometimes the technology would break up and it was hard to understand anything that was going on. It was a challenge for me to stay on task sometimes as well. I usually listen to music in an effort to combat me getting distracted while I’m completing my school assignments, but it is impossible to listen to music and transcribe an interview at the same time. It is literally impossible.

I had to completely engulf myself into the experience of each participant. I felt their pain. When they cried during interviews, I felt the pain and the loneliness they experienced. I genuinely felt the impact that the affinity groups had on each individual. I also felt that love and appreciation they had for Dr. Haskins vividly.


Some Interview Questions 

  • Can you tell me about your program?
  • How old are you?
  • How many affinity group sessions did you attend?
  • Can you tell me about your university?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to participate? What facilitated your participation in the affinity group?
  • Tell me a little bit about your experience with other participants.






  1. aswhitlock says:

    As someone who has conducted interviews for museum work, I understand what you went through! Before I conducted my first interviews, I thought the same thing: that asking questions was the difficult part and transcribing was the easy part. It is also nice to hear that someone else gets swept up in the emotions of the interviewee! What technology did you use to record your interviews?

  2. sirodriguez says:

    I definitely experienced these things during my research this summer, as I was conducting queer oral histories. I thought the interview portion would be the most challenging, and while the interviews were challenging in their own ways, the transcriptions are just so time consuming and energy consuming in a way I did not expect. For my first transcriptions session, it took me 2 hours to transcribe 8 minutes, and while I have gotten faster over the summer, it is still an arduous process. My process included transcribing the interview first and then going back and indexing the interview; because I had done the transcription already, it was easier to know what the interviewee talked about and when. Did you make indexes for your interviews?

  3. Samantha Mehring says:

    I transcribed hour-long interviews for an internship I had in high school and I feel you! I think this is such a cool thing you are taking on but definitely a time-consuming one! The way you describe how the interviews impacted you is really powerful. I think that spoken word has such a deep impact on people – very cool that you got to tap into that for your research.

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