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Friday, December 23, 2011

Staying Alive with Oral History - Part 2


This continues the ideas of my fellow storytellers on the topic of Staying Alive with Oral History

Two storytellers who had articles deserving of publishing on this topic are Judy Schmidt, of the Ann Arbor Storytellers' Guild and Canadian storyteller, Renee Englott, from Edmonton in Alberta.  Renee's the author of Part 3 of this series.  We close with a look at Lynn Rubright's book and other suggested books.

When the topic of Oral Histories was recently discussed, Judy commented:
Published by Libraries Unlimited, 2006
Another resource,  although not only with seniors, is described in The Storytelling Classroom; Applications Across the Curriculum by Sherry Norfolk, Jane Stenson and Diane Williams.  It's the section by Madison, Wisconsin, teacher and storyteller, Mark Wagler, entitled "Teaching the World We Live In: Collecting and Telling Ethnographic Stories."  Mark has done ethnographic projects with "students from primary grades through graduate school."  The one described in The Storytelling Classroom focuses on 4th and 5th graders studying neighborhood cultures along Park Street in Madison.  

Judy continues her suggestions, saying: In terms of equipment - lately I've used a little device by Belkin called a Tune-Talk that can be attached to an I-Pod and will turn it into a recorder. The recording can then be dumped into I-Tunes.
Judy also shared her basic Ten Tips for Taping:
  • TEN TIPS FOR TAPING - Oral History/Family Storytelling
    1. Make sure your recording device is working - before the interview - so that the
    recording process itself wonʼt be a distraction.
    2. If possible, try to tape without a lot of other family members around. One-on-one
    usually works best. Find a quiet, comfortable place where both you and your
    subject can sit without straining voices or posture.
    3. Prepare for your interview by writing out questions in advance -- BUT
    4. Donʼt get too attached to your prepared questions. If your subjectʼs stories are
    flowing in a totally different direction, let them go in that direction.
    5. As you begin taping, record on the tape the following information: the names of the
    interviewer and the person being interviewed, the date, time and place. You
    may also want to record the nature of the relationship. (Example: This is George
    Jones and Iʼm interviewing my father, Ralph Jones, on May 15, 2007 at 10:00
    oʼ clock in the morning in our home at 3345 Morningside, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.)
    6. Listen attentively and appreciatively. This kind of concentrated listening is hard work,
    but well worth the effort. If you are actively listening, you will find that your
    curiosity is stimulated and you will have lots of questions.
    7. If the person youʼre interviewing is “on a roll” and does not need prompting, just let
    her or him go. Donʼt interrupt.
    8. Plan on taping for no more than one hour at a time because the process is tiring.
    However, in case your subject wants to continue, be sure to have enough tape to
    make that possible. If the person wants to pause or stop taping, abide by that
    request.
    9. Donʼt forget your manners. Be sure to thank your subject for taking time with you
    and
    sharing his or her stories. A written thank you note will will be especially
    appreciated.
    10. Label the tape carefully and punch out the tabs on the back edge so that no one
    can record over your interview by accident.
    Donʼt wait for the perfect time to tape your family stories. MAKE IT HAPPEN!
    -- Judith Schmidt , February, 2007
Excellent advice as we never know when that opportunity will go away.

Don't go away, plan on going next to Part 3, of Staying Alive with Oral History and guest author, Renee Englott. 
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