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Frequently Asked Questions

Oral and Written Histories

What is an oral history?

An oral history is the collection of history through recorded interviews of people with first-hand experiences of events. 

Do I have to record something or may I write it out?

Recordings are not required, but simply preferred. Submitters are welcome to write their story. 

What should I say?

Each project page offers a list of suggested questions to get you started!

Can I submit a single story that covers all three topics?

Of course! 

Can I swear?

Please remember children may use this archive. The Society retains the right not to approve submissions deemed inappropriate or offensive. 

Can I submit a story about a different topic?

Please reach out to Assistant Curator Billy Wall-Winkel to pitch an oral history idea. He would be happy to hear your idea. He can be reached at at williamw@detroithistorical.org.

I want to donate, but I don’t want my name used. Can I be anonymous?

If you want to remain anonymous, the Society will respect that. But your submission will not be included in the collection or the online archive. We do not allow anonymous submission in order to foster transparency and trust with the community. 

How do I get started?

Visit a project page, look over the questions, then select ‘Share your story”!

I submitted, but I have changed my mind. How do I delete my story?

Email Assistant Curator, Billy Wall-Winkel at williamw@detroithistorical.org. He will be able to assist you. You cannot delete your submission yourself. 


Who runs this archive?

The Detroit Historical Society does! The Society operates the Detroit Historical Society and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. Our mission is to tell Detroit’s stories and why they matter. For more information, please visit us at detroithistorical.org

If I have questions about this archive, who do I reach out to?

Our Assistant Curator Billy Wall-Winkel would be happy to answer any questions you have about the archive or our oral history projects! He can be reached at williamw@detroithistorical.org

Who is allowed to use the stories in this archive?

Everyone. When histories are submitted, they become public documents. Students, researchers, poets, playwrights, and journalists frequently use the stories in this archive. For more information, please see our use statement. 

Will any personal contact information I give be shared publicly?

No. Contact information provided to the Society will not be shared publicly. Society staff will wait for permission before sharing any information.