There is a tremendous amount of attention placed on the numerous technical challenges involved when remotely recording oral history interviews; however, the logistical challenges can be of equal importance. One logistical challenge is the simple act of obtaining signatures for consent forms, release forms, or the interview deed of gift. When conducting in-person interviews, there is the moment when you, the interviewer, discuss the paperwork the interviewer or narrator will need to sign following the interview and the moment when you slide the paperwork across the table for them to read and to eventually sign. When conducting interviews remotely, this can pose a significant challenge.
For this reason, the Nunn Center has transitioned to utilizing an online form for signing the deed of gift. There are many platforms for doing so, including Adobe Sign or DocuSign. Since the Nunn Center already subscribed to Jotform for other aspects of our interview submission workflow, we decided to utilize Jotform for remotely submitting a signed deed of gift or release form. I wanted to utilize a platform that was user-friendly, allowed for an actual user signature, and allowed some degree of conditional logic, especially when expressing restrictions to the oral history interview. For this reason, a “form” platform like Jotform proved ideal. In the first six months since implementation of the online form in June 2020, the Nunn Center had over 200 interviews utilize the online deed of gift form.
Here is an online demo version of the Nunn Center’s deed of gift form that contains all of the features except a submit button: https://form.jotform.com/202373560418149.
In some ways, the online deed of gift is very similar to the paper version the Nunn Center has been using. As mentioned, the advantage of an online form is the ability to create some conditional logic. This conditional logic is utilized in several sections of the form and can be a powerful way to make the form dynamic and flexible.
THE BASIC INFORMATION
The first thing a donor sees on this form are the fields representing the basic information for each oral history interview. We want to know:
- Donor Name
- Interview Date
- Oral History Project Name
The donor name and the interview date are obvious fields for an oral history deed of gift. However, the Nunn Center’s paper version of the deed of gift never asked for the oral history project name. In the paper model, the signed paper form was turned in along with the information form and the digital file. We devised an envelope system for containing the SD card (one card per interview), the signed deed of gift, and the interview information form. Since the interview deed of gift would be separated from the information form (now an online form as well) and the digital audio or video file, we determined the project name was necessary for efficient accessioning of the interview into the intended oral history project or archival collection.
By utilizing a form for data entry, we can utilize the “date picker” feature that presents the submitter with a calendar in order to choose the interview date.
Since the Nunn Center requires both the Interviewee/Narrator and Interviewer to sign the deed of gift, we have modified our interview accessioning workflow to account for interview signatures on separate forms. For this reasons, I determined it necessary to identify one’s role in the interview event. The first instance in conditional logic is for the signatory to self identify as either Interviewee/Narrator or as the Interviewer, and then identify the other participant in the interview event for cross-verification purposes. If the individuals utilizing the form select “Interviewee/Narrator,” a field appears that prompts them to identify the name of the person who conducted the interview.
In addition to signing the overall document, I opted to utilize the checkbox verification “I have read and agree to the terms in this deed of gift,” which is a required field.
THE CONTACT INFORMATION
Similar to our paper deed of gift, the online form asks for some basic contact information, critical for maintaining contact with the narrator/interviewee. The essential contact element (at least regarding the initial form submission) is the email address, since this contact information will enable the form to automatically send the form response to the submitter. It is important to minimize potential errors when keying in the email address. Jotform allows the form host to require that the submitter enter the email address twice and builds in a confirmation process to verify the email was entered consistently in both fields.
Following the email address is the Donor’s basic contact information, including the mailing address and phone number. In the online form, we chose to ask for a second phone number. It is important for the archive to have the ability to contact the narrator/interviewee long into the future. The second phone number will, hopefully, increase the chances of the archive having accurate contact long into the future.
One thing I liked about Jotform is the ability to include an actual signature experience. The submitter can utilize their finger on a touch-screen device, or a mouse or trackpad to enter their signature. Admittedly, this feels a lot like signing for a purchase at the grocery store check-out line, but this should not be a completely new experience for most people. We do ask for a new date entry in order to date the signature beyond the form submission time-stamp.
The Access Status section of the form is where the conditional logic becomes very useful. If the interview is marked “unrestricted,” the signatory is able to simply submit the deed of gift.
However, if the “Restrictions Apply” checkbox is checked, a range of options is opened up.
If the signatory wants to restrict the interview during their lifetime, they are prompted for their birthday. This is necessary in order to confirm identity when considering whether or not to lift the restriction.
If they choose to restrict the interview until a certain date, they are prompted with a date field.
If they choose “Custom,” they are prompted with a text field to enter into the custom terms of their restriction.
The form is completed when the submitter completes the Captcha and presses the “Submit” button.
Once the form is submitted, Jotform takes the submitter to a landing page that acknowledges and thanks them for their submission. Jotform automatically sends an email receipt to the submitter. Attached to the email is a PDF file that was formatted
Jotform allows you to customize and format the PDF output of the form that is submitted. I had a few goals for the submitted PDF file. First, I wanted all of the information to present on a single page that can be filed like our paper-based deeds of gift. Second, I wanted the form to automate the institutional signature that acknowledges the gift. Our deeds of gift are signed by someone from our institution (usually me) to acknowledge the gift. At the scale that the Nunn Center works (we average 600-900 new interviews per year), it is very convenient to have the deed of gift automatically signed (by me) and instantly sent to the submitter for their personal records. The Jotform interface provides a solid discovery and search experience when looking for specific form submissions to download, and includes the ability to download the entirety of submissions periodically.
Once again, here is an online demo version of the Nunn Center’s deed of gift form that contains all of the features except a submit button: https://form.jotform.com/202373560418149.
In terms of pricing, Jotform has a free tier with some limitations. The Nunn Center subscribes to the “Silver” package which, at this time, is the entry level package that removes “Jotform” branding and allows for HIPAA compliance.
The Nunn Center’s shift toward online deed of gift submission was, indeed, instituted because of COVID-19 and the rapid increase in the amount of remote interviewing. However, I am sold on the model. I think the online form submission fits well into our born-digital workflow, and the automation that we have introduced results in a far more efficient process for the archive and for the person signing and submitting the deed of gift. This does not mean that we are completely abandoning our use of paper forms. Deed of gift forms (as paper and as .PDF files) will be made available when needed or requested. There are many choices for online form submission. Thus far, Jotform has proven to be robust, reliable, and very user friendly.