Preparing Mama to be an Interviewer

Here's Mom, standing in front of an old California stagecoach stop not far from Temecula, California. (from a recent road trip) What happens the person who’s usually the interviewee borrows your fancy digital recorder and becomes the interviewer? What happens when your Mom goes across the country and will see someone you’ve been wanting to interview for, like forever? Do you say, Okay Mom, please ask these questions. Oh, and would you record it? How do you make using the recorder as simple as possible? Will it work out?

The other week, my Mom went from West Coast to East Coast to attend her 60th high school reunion. I loaned her my easiest-to-use recorder with some very basic instruction. And hoped for the best.

Mount Pleasant High School Postcard (sent 1950, the same year Mom graduated).

Background: The stories I want to hear

Main entrance to General Electric's largest plant and its general offices. My gradmother worked for the General Electric Company twice—in the 1920s before her children were born, and again from 1941 until she retired in 1966. The person I’ve wanted to interview—a woman whose initials are NF—was mentored by my grandmother.  They both worked in an industry where women professionals were A Rare Thing.

Here’s something else that’s important: Grandma lived on the other side of the country.

I am back east at Grandma and Grandpa's house. In the snow (wow!) It's 1963; I am 3 and a half years old. (Grandma died 4 years later) I only have a few memory snapshots of her, from a visit East when I was a pre-schooler, and from a visit Grandma took west when my younger brother was born (I was 5?).

Grandma died a few months ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 29, 2010 in • AudioAudio: HardwareHow-ToPersonal
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Katrina and The Flood, We Watched Everything Float Away

NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 29, 2005) - Flooded roadways can be seen as the Coast Guard conducts initial Hurricane Katrina damage assessment overflights here today.  U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi Podcast memories of Katrina and the flood, from Louisiana State University’s Oral History Program. This is the second in the Katrina retrospective, using oral histories.

The MP3 audio podcast (playable right in the browser window) contains numerous clips from interviewees.

It was through listening to this podcast that I learned of the Floodwall exhibit and oral history that I wrote about in the previous post.

NOAA photo of New Orleans. Taken September 11, 2005 (Stick through the first minute of audio of the recording—unfortunately, the first 50 seconds of the 27-minute recording is boomy with that icky metallic note of excessive audio compression. It seriously gets much, much better after that. I nearly clicked away a few seconds in, thinking the entire recording would be like the first part, but I was very glad I stuck out the first minute.)

Some highlights from the podcast, with recollections of Katrina:

How memories of Hurricane Betsy (1965) helped one person decide what, exactly, to ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 02, 2010 in • HistoryOral History Projects
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