Dr. Brenda Sendejo, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, talks about oral history methodsand best practices in the context of the Austin-based Latina Spiritualities Project and the student-driven Latina History Project at Southwestern University.
Here are a list of the questions participants asked:
In the context of multilingual oral history projects, sometimes meaning and words get lost in translation. Do you recommend a translator to help mediate this? And does that change the dynamic of the interview?
Do you tend to provide questions in advance for any of your interviewees who might feel they need to prepare themselves for the interview?
What about using photos or newspaper clippings as “conversation starters“? Is that influencing the interviewee’s recall too much, or, alternatively, does it serve to lead the discussion in a productive direction?
Is it effective to capture the interview on video as well as audio, since an oral history can be an emotional journey for the interviewee their emotional responses can be a critical piece of their story? Or, does a video recorder tend to make people too self-conscious or even uncomfortable?
See how Dr. Sendejo responded to these questions during the Q and A by watching the video in full (above) or clicking on theindividual chapter linksin the far left corner of the video viewer. The slides and audio from this presentation are also available separately at the links below.
This clip of Rollins grads, Jack and Priscilla Northrup (’49), is far from a complete oral history. However, it is a creative example of how primary sources from the archives can help tell the story of interviewees in a powerful way. In this case, historic photos, yearbooks, and an old report card become meaningful artifacts of unique experiences recalled by this lovable duo.
Have you thought about using materials from the archives as a tool in your own oral history work?
If so, what types of sources could help to tell the stories of your oral history subjects?
The [True] Stories project aims to support classroom-centered, multidisciplinary, and collaborative oral history curricula for undergraduates at three Liberal Arts Colleges (Rollins College, Davidson College, and Southwestern University). Check out our About page for more details on the project. Follow our project blog below to see how oral history is playing a role in teaching and learning at all three campuses.
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