Frequently Asked Questions

  1. ABOUT THE ORAL HISTORY CENTRE
  2. WHAT IS IN YOUR COLLECTION?
  3. HOW DO I ACCESS YOUR MATERIALS?
  4. ARE ALL INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE FOR LISTENING?
  5. WHY DOES THE TEXT IN THE TIME MARKERS TAB NOT SYNCHRONISE WITH THE AUDIO THAT IS PLAYING?
  6. WHY IS IT THAT I AM UNABLE TO SEE THE TIME MARKERS AND/OR TRANSCRIPT TAB? SOMETIMES, I AM ALSO UNABLE TO SEE THE AUDIO PLAYER.
  7. ON MY MOBILE DEVICE, WHY WAS I UNABLE TO CLICK ON A TIME-CODE IN THE TIME MARKERS TAB AND HAVE THE AUDIO JUMP TO THAT TIMING?
  8. WHY ARE YOUR TRANSCRIPTS NOT GRAMMATICAL? WHY ARE THERE FACTUAL ERRORS IN YOUR TRANSCRIPTS?
  9. CAN I QUOTE FROM YOUR INTERVIEW OR OBTAIN AN EXTRACT OF THE AUDIO FOR EXHIBITION, PERFORMANCE OR BROADCAST?
  1. ABOUT THE ORAL HISTORY CENTRE

    The Oral History Centre was established in 1979. We are mandated to record, preserve and disseminate the history of Singapore through oral history methodology. This is done through the interviewing of individuals who have served prominently as leaders and innovators in their field of work, as well as individuals who were eyewitnesses or participants in historical events affecting Singapore. Our interviews are made available for public consultation, subject to the agreement of interviewees. We also promote the use of oral history through workshops, exhibitions and publications.

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  2. WHAT IS IN YOUR COLLECTION?

    The bulk of our collection comes from the several thousand hours of oral interviews recorded by our specialists or commissioned for our many oral history projects. These projects cover a wide range of subjects in order to capture a broad range of Singapore history. These include Singapore's political history, the Japanese Occupation, vanishing trades, the performing arts, broadcasting, the civil service and the medical services, among many others.

    We also have a number of external collections, which originate from other oral history organisations, archives, museums, non-government organisations and/or individuals. These include collections from the Imperial War Museum (UK), Australian War Memorial, and Migrant Voices.

    It is noteworthy that the majority of our interviews take the form of a "life history" approach and often cover a range of topics. Thus, while an interview may have been conducted for a particular project, its scope may extend into that covered by other projects. For example, a doctor interviewed primarily for his/her account of his/her professional experiences in the medical services may also have had memories of life under the Japanese Occupation to share.

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  3. HOW DO I ACCESS YOUR MATERIALS?

    The National Archives of Singapore's online finding aid, Archives Online, is located at http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/. It allows you to conduct a keyword search across eight databases, including our oral history database. Every interview reel/disc is accompanied by a synopsis. If and where available, you can also view the interview transcript and/or listen to the recorded audio.

    To refine your search, you may wish to head directly to our oral history database located at http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews, where the Advanced Search allows you to search across specific fields. For example, the field "Transcript Content" allows you to search from interview transcripts, where available, using optical character recognition (OCR). Kindly note, however, that present OCR technology is not failproof, especially for older typewritten transcripts.

    If you wish to, you may also browse our collection by project or collection at http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/browse-project.

    To listen to oral history recordings which are stated to be ‘Open Access’ but are not available on our portal, please visit the Archives Reading Room of the National Archives of Singapore. For the latest information on opening hours, please check http://www.nas.gov.sg/nas/AboutUs/ContactUs.aspx.

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  4. ARE ALL INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE FOR LISTENING?

    Access to interviews is governed by the access conditions stipulated by interviewees. As an ethical oral history body, we honour all interview agreements signed with interviewees and manage access to our collection accordingly. For example, some Restricted Access interviews stipulate that the public can only access their interviews after a specified period of time has passed after the end of the interview. Other Restricted Access interviews require written permission from interviewees.

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  5. WHY DOES THE TEXT IN THE TIME MARKERS TAB NOT SYNCHRONISE WITH THE AUDIO THAT IS PLAYING?

    The Time Markers have been generated based on third-party programmes like voice-to-text and optical character recognition (OCR) software and so some inaccuracies are expected.

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  6. WHY IS IT THAT I AM UNABLE TO SEE THE TIME MARKERS AND/OR TRANSCRIPT TAB? SOMETIMES, I AM ALSO UNABLE TO SEE THE AUDIO PLAYER.

    The Time Markers and Transcript tabs will only appear when available. Due to the time-consuming nature of transcription, not all our interviews have been transcribed. If you see the Transcript tab but do not see the Time Markers, it could be due to technical difficulties in the OCR scanning of some of our older typewritten transcripts. Please also note that due to technical issues, Time Markers are not available for mobile devices running on Android OS 4.3 and below.

    The audio player will not appear where the recording is not available because:

    1. The reel/disc is restricted, and users can only listen in the Archives Reading Room. Please contact us at nas@nlb.gov.sg before coming down as permission may be required from interviewees.

    2. The reel/disc is open for access, but has either not been digitised, or has not been uploaded yet. We are progressively digitising and uploading the audio files.

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  7. ON MY MOBILE DEVICE, WHY WAS I UNABLE TO CLICK ON A TIME-CODE IN THE TIME MARKERS TAB AND HAVE THE AUDIO JUMP TO THAT TIMING?

    Due to a technical limitation on mobile devices, you will need to play the recording first before you can click on a time-code.

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  8. WHY ARE YOUR TRANSCRIPTS NOT GRAMMATICAL? WHY ARE THERE FACTUAL ERRORS IN YOUR TRANSCRIPTS?

    Oral history is informal, conversational and raw. Its strength lies in the recording of first person experiences, emotions and responses. In keeping with the spirit and flow of the oral interview, our transcriptions are verbatim with minimal edits. As with most unscripted conversations, oral history is not immune to factual errors, slips of the tongue and memory lapses. Where possible, these may have been noted by the editor. However, like any other primary historical source, it is the responsibility of the user to interpret the material with adequately critical evaluation.

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  9. CAN I QUOTE FROM YOUR INTERVIEW OR OBTAIN AN EXTRACT OF THE AUDIO FOR EXHIBITION, PERFORMANCE OR BROADCAST?

    All rights in the recording and transcript, including the right to copy, publish, broadcast and perform, are reserved to the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). Please write to nas@nlb.gov.sg should you wish to use the interview for any purpose.

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