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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Questions for Wednesday 1/21/14

Post your questions here by noon on Wednesday!

10 comments:

  1. Reading our assignment for this week, I was struck by a recommendation that appears twice, both under “General Principles” and “Best Practices.” This may be the only principle that is also a best practice. It states that, “In keeping with the goal of long term preservation and access, oral historians should use the best recording equipment available within the limits of their financial resources.” I continue to marvel at this command because it places oral history in a special category, apart from crafts like painting and photography (both of which, from a certain point of view, are about creating a permanent record to contribute to an understanding of the past—just like oral history). To my knowledge, neither painters nor photographers are told to use the best equipment they can afford. Oral historians are asked to do this. My question for Michael Bell, then, has to do with the differences between oral history and other ways of recording human experience. What are the key differences?

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  2. There are several points where the reading for this week very helpfully frames a responsible approach to conducting an oral history interview. One of these points addresses the balance that interviewers should work to achieve between the planned objectives of the project and the perspectives of the interviewee. This is an important point. How do we know when a story that may initially seem to fall too far outside the planned objectives of the project will eventually turn itself around to reveal something that may not have been available if approached more directly? Is there a way to tell that an interview's most powerful stories will actually come from the moments when the interviewee moves beyond the intended scope of the interview? Both questions are really getting at the same procedural question: How far should we allow an interview to stray from the initial objectives of the project before reining it back in?

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  3. I have done quite a few interviews and I seem to have trouble forming the interview guide. I try my hardest to ask open-ended questions that do not sway the participant one way or the other but sometimes I cannot find the appropriate way to ask about some subjects. Do you have any suggestions that would make this process go smoother?

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  4. The reading assigned to us gives great insight as to how to conduct and prepare for an oral history interview. During the preparation phase I am curious as to how you go about convincing an individual that their story is valuable. In the past when I have attempted to collect these histories many people express uncertainty in this regard, which ultimately ends up degrading the quality of the interview.

    At the end of the article there is also a brief discussion regarding the maintenance of "the integrity of the narrator’s perspective, recognizing the subjectivity of the interview". When transcribing an oral history to a written one how do you ensure this authentic quality without placing an extensive amount of subjective perspective of the individual you interviewed in it?

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  5. I'm curious on the technology used in recording the interviews and how it's archived. As technology upgrades do Oral Historians convert their older files of interviews to newer formats?

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  6. If a narrator starts to go too far off track from what is planned for the interview, but what is being said is still worth recording, should whoever is giving the interview try to get the interview back on track or let the narrator continue his or her story?

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  7. This article talks a lot about how to conduct interviews and what to do after, but not so much about how to relate to the person you are interviewing. I know that people aren't alway comfortable with sharing their stories with people they don't know very well, so what could we do as interviewers to make them comfortable while telling their stories?

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  8. The first practice stated for pre-interview oral history is that when conducting research, “first time interviewers and others involved in oral history projects should seek training to prepare themselves for all stages of the oral history process.” What types of training in what methods would be suggested for such preparation?

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  9. In light of the Oral Historian's "goal of long term preservation and access," when conducting and collecting recordings: what is the most creative way you have seen an oral history presented to encourage a wider access?

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  10. As time has progressed since the beginning of Oral History, shouldn't there be a standard as to what kind of quality your recording equipment is? I am sure that recording equipment now has improved a lot compared to back then, so as long as the your equipment gets the job done shouldn't it be fine?

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