Dr. Miller’s RCC Class Submits Interviews to the College Archives

As the semester is winding down, class oral histories and interviews are beginning to be submitted to College Archives so that the work of our students will be preserved for the long-term and accessible to the next generation of researchers.

Check out these great interviews from Dr. Miller’s class at Rollins College!

Kennedy Butler Interview –

Taylor Boyd Interview –

Peter Haddad Interview –

StoryCorps Demo

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our live demo of the StoryCorps app.  For those of you who missed it, below is a brief outline of what we covered in the demo.

  • Jane Field explained the StoryCorps App and all it’s features.
  • Rachel Walton showed how to post your content from StoryCorps to the blog.
  • Scott Bokash went over how to create a clip of your interview in MediaSpace and post it to the blog.

You can also watch the entire recording here:

StoryCorps has a step-by-step guide to downloading an unpublished interview from your phone to your computer using either an iPhone or an Android.

[A final note: In our demo, we didn’t mention that you can also create a custom question list in the StoryCorps.me web browser using the Question Generator–which you can then send to the email address associated with your StoryCorps account. This would be useful for sending the question list to your interview subject in advance so that they can have time to prepare thoughtful responses to your questions.]

New Fall 2016 Classes Categories Available

filefolderATTENTION: Instructors and students, all Fall 2016 course categories are now available and usable for posts on the blog! Just select your course name from the list of folders on the right to see what your classmates, students, or instructor have posted. And don’t forget to tag your own posts with your class name and “Fall 2016 Classes.”  A list of all the new courses for this semester are below.

  • Listening (COM 230), Prof. Stone
  • The Revolution Will Note Be Televised (RCC 100), Prof. Miller
  • Decade of Decision – the 1950s (HIS 120), Prof. Chambliss
  • Oral History (EDU 290), Prof. Kelly and Prof. Christian-Lamb
  • Feminist and Queer Activisms (FST464/RES464), Prof. Kafer

StoryCorps.me and the StoryCorps Mobile App

mobiletextA few weeks ago I experimented with StoryCorps’ App for the first time and learned a lot about my friend and colleague, Sharon Williams, in the process. Sharon is the Acquisitions and Office Coordinator for the Cataloging and Systems Department at the Olin Library here at Rollins College. She is a free spirit and nature-lover who has worked in libraries for almost three decades. I was so happy to get to know Sharon better today, and grateful that she gave some of her time for this interview.

pastedImageListen to our interview here and download the StoryCorps App on your mobile device to try it out yourself! The [True] Stories team will be posting tutorials and tool reviews about the StoryCorps App sometime in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned! 

Jane Field: New Assistant Curator and Liaison at [True] Stories

IMG_7145Hello! My name is Jane Field, and I’m excited to be the new Curatorial Assistant and Liaison at [True] Stories.  I come here fresh from the Master’s program at the University of Texas, Austin’s School of Information. While at UT, I focused on archives, because I’m fascinated by the way communities construct and maintain systems of memory. My interest in memory goes back to my undergraduate years at Bard College, during which I studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Soviet government had a reputation for playing fast and loose with history, and after my time there I knew I wanted to go into a field that respects cultural memory.  At UT, I began learning about how communities can reclaim their own narratives by sharing their histories, and how archives are helping to facilitate this process. I’ve been lucky to work for the past few months at the Texas After Violence Project, where I’ve been creating an online collection of research materials about inmates who were sentenced to execution in Texas during the 20th century. (If you haven’t yet, check out more about the TAVP’s oral history work in the [True] Stories webinar with the executive director, Gabriel Solis

Throughout the years, I’ve worked as a waitress, a librarian, a substitute teacher, and held various other jobs, but the most exciting work I’ve done has happened since I decided to pursue archives and information. I’m thrilled, at the start of this new career, to be working with [True] Stories: not only facilitating the creation of oral histories, but aiding the teachers who are ensuring that the oral history process continues to be taught and incorporated into classrooms around the country.

I hope that I can be useful to everyone involved in this project. Please feel free to contact me at about anything. I’m here to help!envelope


Analyzing the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective

In spring 2016, I taught an English class at Southwestern University titled “Digital Frontiers in American Literature.”  (Check out the Digital Frontiers in American Literature Syllabus here.)

When we think about incorporating an oral history component in teaching, we’re often thinking about oral history projects in which students plan and conduct interviews.  This is an invaluable avenue for student engagement, as evidenced by so many of the course materials, teacher and student reflections, and Library readings on this True Stories blog.  When it comes to identifying the advantages of oral history for interdisciplinary undergraduate education, it’s also important to think about analyzing oral histories that are already up on the internet.  Fantastic oral history projects and collections proliferate across the Web.  How can we harness their power in classroom teaching?

imgresDuring a unit on Helena Maria Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus, I assigned students to put the novel in conversation with oral histories available at the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective.  The novel centers on the experience of a family of Mexican and Mexican-American farm laborers in the fields of California; the Digital Memory Collective centers on Chicana feminism, which has roots in migrant worker rights movements.  Therefore, the novel and the oral histories valuably contextualize each other.

In response to these Chicana Por Mi Raza Blog Post Guidelines, students wrote blog posts on our course blog to analyze oral history testimony and practice putting it in conversation with course literary texts and themes.  The guidelines walk students through the process of “close-listening” to an oral history, applying critical close-reading skills we prize in the literature classroom to oral history as a unique category of narrative.  Students noted a host of meaningful connections between the novel and the oral histories, ranging from framing of family dynamics to the interweaving of Spanish with English narration.  You can read through the students’ blog posts here.

Contando Cuentos–Using Oral Histories in An Upper Level Spanish Class

Upon graduation for Southwestern, many of the Spanish Program’s majors will place “proficiency” in Spanish on their resumes. A few of them will be interviewed in Spanish to demonstrate their language and cultural fluency. When I was awarded a grant in the Digital Humanities, and the Latin American and Border Studies organized an on campus symposium for our alumni, I thought this would be a great opportunity for my students to practice interviewing skills and gain experience in speaking Spanish (even for the heritage speakers) in a formal (and stressful) situation.

Since Southwestern has recently converted a study room into a sound booth in the library, and many of my students didn’t know we even had this booth (myself included), the cards seemed to fall into place. The student learning objectives of the assignment were to be that my students would acquire skills in the Digital Humanities and practice interview skills and techniques. Another student learning objective was for my students to hear voices from an historically underrepresented student population at Southwestern, and give current students to chance to offer our alumni a chance to make their voices heard, and compare those experiences with the experiences of our current student body. Southwestern’s largest underrepresented group on campus, those who identify as Hispanic, will soon reach 25% of the student body. We need to pay attention to the concerns of the group of students and offer opportunities for their voices to be heard.

The requirements for the assignment were drawn up on the fly–something that I now have experience with and have developed better instructions and rubrics for future projects of this nature. The most important requirement for the assignment was for the students to contact alumni that spoke (and would be willing to be interviewed in) Spanish and who would be attending the symposium. Given that this was the symposium’s first year, there were few people that fit the requirement.

The students were placed into groups based on their preference of the alumni. Each member of the group was required to read an article regarding oral histories, take notes, and share these notes with the rest of the group. Then, the group needed to divide the tasks: who would contact the interviewee and set up a time for the interview to take place; who would write the formal letter of invitation and the donation form; who would conduct research on the alumnus and write up the interview questions; who would be in charge of the technological portion of the interview (all received training in the sound booth during one class period, and on a separate occasion practiced with the equipment); who would conduct the interview. Samples of an article and the letters appear here.

By far, the most difficult process in the assignment was contacting the alumni only in the sense that the students demonstrated resistance to calling (on the phone) rather than waiting for a response via e-mail. These alumni are busy, and emails from students certainly wouldn’t pop up as urgent emails to read. Although I coached them to make the call, I attempted to be as hands off as possible.

Another bump in the road appeared when one of the scheduled alumna backed out of the symposium at the last minute. The students were clearly disappointed and flustered. I suggested reaching out to other alumni not in attendance (we had an excel spreadsheet already prepared). Nevertheless, the students weren’t able to make this work (for a variety of reasons not shared with me), and opted instead to interview an Ecuadorian musician visiting the campus for a two day period. In this regard, realizing the time constraint now upon us to realize this assignment, I agreed to open up to new interviewees as long as the responsibilities of members of the group were achieved and the interview took place in Spanish. I realized that I needed to be flexible for several reasons: nearing the end of the semester; competing with schedules that made conducting the interviews outside of classroom nearly impossible, and disappointment when the first plan failed. However, the students demonstrated critical thinking skills and made the interview happen, and although it doesn’t “match” the content of the other interviews, it is a wonderful interview in that it engages the students with a different community, offers the chance to practice their digital and interviewing skills.

The last bump in the road proved to be the most disastrous. All the preliminary assignments were accomplished in a timely fashion, but the equipment was not utilized correctly and absolutely nothing was recording during the 30 minute interview. Despite the training and practice, technology failed. User error was to blame. I should have instructed the students to have a back-up: record the interview on their cellphones. In the students’ defense, only 3 members of the group showed up to the interview. Perhaps if all members had gone, someone would have caught the error. The students panicked. I panicked. I am absolutely mortified to let this alumnus know–a man who generously gave his time to my students–did not have the end result desired. I need to let him know. Soon. I have been avoiding this conversation. Perhaps my students aren’t the only ones scared of making phone calls.

In the end, the students found another local alumna that fit the bill, the interview was a success and the students were able to finish the assignments. I now have 4 interviews that will be transcribed. The transcription will be sent to them for their final approval, and we will post these interviews here.

Despite the rocky road, this assignment clearly had its benefits and I will continue to incorporate the assignment in all of my upper-level Spanish classes.  But for now, I need to make a phone call.


Video of Webinar with Gabriel Solis of the Texas After Violence Project now available


On Friday, April 22, 2016, the [True] Stories Project and the Latina History Project at Southwestern University co-sponsored a webinar with Gabriel Daniel Solis, Executive Director of the Texas After Violence Project.  Solis discussed his experiences with and reflections on oral history as a mode of social justice practice.  If you couldn’t tune in for the webinar, access the complete video recording below.



Webinar with Gabriel Solis of the Texas After Violence Project

Please join us for a webinar on Friday, 4/22, at 10 AM CST/11 AM EST with Gabriel Daniel Solis of the Texas After Violence Project.  Solis will talk about  his experiences with and reflections on oral history as a mode of social justice practice.  Solis’s bio and details for joining the webinar appear below.


Gabriel Daniel Solis is the Executive Director of the Texas After Violence Project.  Prior to returning to the Texas After Violence Project, where he previously served as Project Coordinator and Associate Director, Solis worked as a post-conviction mitigation investigator for the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Gabriel was also a researcher at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and coordinator of the Rule of Law Oral History Project at Columbia University. He has conducted research on policing, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and the effects of violence and trauma on families and communities. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.

Topic: Webinar with Gabe Solis of the Texas After Violence Project
Time: Apr 22, 2016 10:00 AM CST/11:00 AM EST
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/471486704
Or iPhone one-tap:  16465588656,471486704# or 14086380968,471486704#
Or Telephone:
    Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
    Meeting ID: 471 486 704

Oral History, Copyright, and Beyond: A Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Miller

We are happy to invite you to another [True] Stories speaker event:

JMimageOral History, Copyright, and Beyond: A Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Miller of Rollins College

Time:  Tuesday, April 19, 2016 10:00am EST/ 9:00am CT

Rollins College’s Library Director, Dr. Jonathan Miller, will lead us in a conversation about copyright as well as other ethical and practical considerations involved with oral history work.

Dr. Miller earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 and wrote his dissertation on the role of librarians and libraries in the development of copyright law. His research and writing interests also include copyright history, open access publishing, and library management. In addition to his many publications, awards, and accomplishments, Dr. Miller is active in the Association of College & Research Libraries where he enjoys engaging in advocacy and government relations work. You can view Dr. Miller’s CV online here and a selection of his recent publications here.

Please join us and bring your questions! This event will also be recorded and an edited copy will be available afterwards on the [True] Stories website.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/317692836

Or iPhone one-tap:  16465588656,317692836# or 14086380968,317692836#

Or Telephone:

Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)

Meeting ID: 317 692 836

International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=K1McPKsaPYlgd4R-ycdhBpyEWuwQ7QHT