Anonymity to protect criminals

Madeleine Hall-Arber's picture

Is there a "best practice" discussion that addresses what to do if a speaker reveals criminal activity in their oral history?  The recordings and transcripts are to be made available to the public. Should the name of the speaker be redacted?

Thanks!  Madeleine

Hi Madeleine,

For my oral history thesis, I interviewed formerly incarcerated people about their activism inside prisons. In the legal release, I advised the people I interviewed to be mindful of the civil & criminal liability they would be exposing themselves to in our interview. After typing up their transcripts, I highlighted the portions of the transcript that I believed could endanger them, and asked them to specifically OK those sections (or choose to delete or seal them). I believe it is best to leave the decision in your narrators' hands, and if you are able to, contact a lawyer who could advise them if they have concerns or questions.

best,
elly kalfus
ekal3026@columbia.edu