Field Research Documentation

I have, over the years, created a number of forms both for myself and for my students to aid in doing survey work as well as more intensive forms of documentation. I have made all of those forms available on Scribd, which keeps them very tidy — and also doesn’t consume my bandwidth for something that has proved pretty popular over the years:

* If you are doing what Fred Kniffen once described as “windshield survey” work, you might want to keep a [field log sheet]( on the seat next to you. I have also forgotten such sheets in my office when I headed out, but making myself fill it out as soon as I got back was a sure way to make sure I wrote everything down while the memories were fresh — I am always surprised by how quickly memory decays.
* If I have made any kind of recording — and I usually work with audio — I like to create a [log sheet]( of the contents while I listen. Again, just having the sheet is enough to make me do the work on most occasions.
* Finally, while working with the Center for Louisiana Studies, we tried to come up with an archive accession form that would respect the folklore fieldwork practice, and I think the eventual draft we came up with does a decent job. Feel free to adapt it to your circumstances, or archive.
* You may also be interested in my collection of [interview tips](

Leave a Reply