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High school senior reflection essay

LoMuzio, L.DiAlberti, L.DiNatale, E.Lucariello, A.Mezza, E.Bucci, E.and DeRosa, (1998). Overexpression of cyclin-Dl, bcl-2, and bax proteins, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and DNA-ploidy in refractive cell association of the asexual reproduction. Hum. Pathol. 29, 1189-1194. Kuo, M.Lin, C.Hahn, L.Cheng, S.and Chiang, E (1999). Asthenia of cyclin DI is classified with poor indicator in women with partial volume Write my Custom Essays Cony High School oral squamous cell carcino- mas in Australia.

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Notebook Log Sheets - Projects - Ms

Notebook Log & Projects
This is where you will find information on the latest projects we are working on in class, the log sheet for the Social Studies Notebook for each class, and the instructions for the books we read together as a class.

7 th Grade Research Paper

We have come to that time in 7 th grade when you must take all the research and writing skills we have been learning over the course of the school year and go off on your own and try them out! Don’t stress—you have been well prepared so trust in your own abilities. The key to being able to do your best on this project is to PLAN PLAN PLAN your time and to not procrastinate. Staying organized and planning is perhaps one of the harder aspects of this project, so to help you with that, there are numerous due dates to help make sure you are staying on track and not getting behind in the process.

RESEARCH PAPER REQUIREMENTS

The focus of your research paper is YOUR CHOOSING from American history from 1400 – 1865. (See the back for suggestions.) You must have a MINIMUM of 6 SOURCES and 2 of those sources must be PRIMRARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS. The body of your paper needs to be double-spaced, 1-inch margins, and 5-7 pages (please number your pages). You must also have a properly formatted BIBLIOGRAPHY.

To help guide your work and planning, here are all the steps we have learned in doing a research paper (see due dates within):

o Choose a research Subject that becomes a Topic and then a Focus.DUE APRIL 11 TH (Worksheet #1)

o Develop Compelling Questions about Focus to guide initial research and work towards developing a Research Question. DUE APRIL 11 TH (Worksheet #1)

o Organize ideas and initial compelling questions to draft searches and start developing a Research Question.DUE APRIL 18 th (Worksheet #2)

o Construct searches to find reliable sources on the Internet (use Boolean search strategies for search engines and databases). LIBRARY TRIP APRIL 19 TH —WORKSHEET #3 DUE THURSDAY APRIL 21 st

o Once you have a good working draft of your Research Question, you need to develop Sub-Topics/Questions —a break down of your research question (to ensure research question is answered thoroughly) and help guide search for sources (what are all the questions we need to find answers to?).

o Find sources. Finding sources isn’t something you only do once when doing a research project. Start, examine your sources, and then chances are you will need more sources.

o Record sources on Bibliography Source Sheet.CHECK-INDUE TUESDAY MAY 3 rd (you need to have at least 4 sources—you might find that after closer examination you won’t end up using all of them & that’s okay)

o Take notes from sources, using Sub-Topics Notes Worksheet. DUE DATES FOR EACH SOURCE (6 MINIMUM): MAY 6 th. MAY 10 th. MAY 13 th. MAY 17 th. MAY 20 th. MAY 23 rd —WORKSHEET AVAILABLE ON CLASS WEBSITE

o Brainstorm—start to develop Claims that will anchor research paper (May 23 rd ).

o Construct a Working Thesis Statement.DUE MAY 24 th

o Construct a Working Outline.DUE MAY 26 th

o Write Draft of research paper. DUE DATES FOR 2 DIFFERENT BODY PARAGRAPHS: JUNE 1 st & JUNE 3 rd

oRevise and Edit research paper (June 4 th – 9 th ).

o Turn in final Research PaperDUE JUNE 10 th

Some things to keep in mind:

· I have no expectation that you be working on this project over spring break.

· I have given you enough time to complete this project in addition to homework of reading a class book (The Lord of the Flies )—just because you might not have something due the next day in humanities, it is my expectation that you are working on this project.

· I have tried to avoid due dates on Mondays (you only have 2), but I would think the weekend would be a good time to do some of your work for this project (especially if you have a lot of afterschool commitments during the week).

EARLY ACADEMY: Please remember you have Early Academy to ask me specific questions about your project. You will get the most out of Early Academy if you come prepared with specific questions. Please don’t ask me: “Is this right?” This project is meant for you to show me what you’re capable of and for me to assess your research and writing skills. My expectation is that this is a LEARNING EXPERIENCE not a IT HAS TO BE RIGHT EXPERIENCE.

The following is a list of possible research ideas for your paper—you are not limited to these ideas. Remember, a research paper is not a report. Instead, it must deal with a specific issue and prove a specific thesis. The following topics provide ideas for the focus of a research paper; they are not questions where the answers become the thesis statement—nor does a paper need to address all the questions connected to a topic (they’re just to get you started). KEEP IN MIND YOU NEED TOCHOOSE A FOCUS THAT PRODUCES A DEBATABLE RESEARCH QUESTION.

* Denotes topics that may be more challenging to research and/or organize.

o *Native American religion: What was its relationship to the environment?

o Native Americans: What was the impact of European colonization on Native Americans?

o The lost colony of Roanoke: What are the theories to explain its disappearance?

o *Salem Witch Trials: What were the possible causes?

o Women in Colonial America: What was the role of women? Address the concept of the “republican mother” and its impact on the movement toward revolution.

o The United States Constitution: Did the framers really represent the American people? (Aristocracy or Democracy?)

o Federalists vs. Anti-federalists: What were the main arguments prior to ratification of the Constitution? What was the outcome of the debate? How did they contribute to a two-party system?

o The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794: What were the causes and effects?

o Marbury v. Madison. What was the impact of this case on the American judicial system?

o Cotton gin: What was its impact on the American economy and the use of slaves labor on plantations in the South?

o Indian Removal Act: What were the reasons for its passage? What was the impact of the Trail of Tears that resulted?

o Mexican War: What were the causes and/or effects? Did the U.S. provoke the war?

o Manifest Destiny: What were the causes of westward expansion?

o Oregon Trail: Why was the motivation to move to the West so strong that people were willing to take enormous risks?

o Mormons: Why did they encounter opposition in Illinois? What motivated their migration to Utah? What has been their impact on western development and American society?

o Gold Rush: What was its impact on the development of California?

o Erie Canal/The National Road: What significance did the development of roads and canals have on the growth of specific regions of the United States?

o Seneca Falls: What was its impact on the lives of women?

o Antebellum South: How did living conditions, working conditions, and religion affect the lives of slaves in the Antebellum South?

o Lincoln-Douglas debates: Compare and contrast the views of each regarding slavery and governmental power. What was the impact of the debates?

o Abolitionist movement in the United States: Who were the key leaders, and what were their contributions? What was the impact on the tensions leading to the Civil War?

o The Underground Railroad: What were the methods used? What was the impact?

o Pre-Civil War conflicts over slavery: What were the causes and effects of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry?

o Pre-Civil War conflicts over slavery: What were the causes and effects of the Nat Turner Rebellion?

o Dred Scott decision: What was its impact on the slavery issue?

o Civil War: What were the key issues that caused conflict between North and South? (Keep in mind that there were many sectional differences in addition to slavery.)

o Civil War: What were the strengths and weaknesses of the North and the South, and how did these factors contribute to the outcome of the war? (Especially focus on economic factors.)

o Civil War: Why did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation? How did it influence the decision of European nations not to recognize the Confederacy?

o Women in the Civil War: How did they contribute?

o African American soldiers in the Civil War: How did they contribute? What kind of discrimination did they face in the Union army?

o Abraham Lincoln’s assassination: What did Booth and his co-conspirators hope to achieve? How did Lincoln’s assassination impact the reconstruction of the nation after the Civil War? *Was Mary Surratt actually a part of the conspiracy?

o *New York draft riots during the Civil War: What were the causes? What were the effects?

806--Oral History Project

Oral History Project

Much of what we study in history is what is considered "traditional" history; that is, it is the history of major political figures, important historical events, and significant historical trends. Now it's your turn to help create the history that occurs all around you—the story of everyday people.

What is oral history and why do it?

Oral history is the systematic collection of living people's testimony about their own experiences. It is created when one person (the interviewer) interviews another person (the interviewee) about a specific time period in the interviewee's life or a specific topic they can recall. Unlike traditional historical research where written texts are the primary source of research, oral history focuses on humans—their memory and the spoken word. The means of collection can vary from taking notes by hand to simple audio recording devices to elaborate electronic video recordings.

Oral history is not just recorded conversations or a journalistic interview. Oral history is distinguished from other forms of interviews by its content and extent. Oral history interviews seek an in-depth account of personal experience and reflections, with sufficient time allowed for the interviewees to give their story the fullness they desire.

Oral historians then take their collected interview(s) and analyze it for meaning, attempting to verify their conclusions and place them in an accurate historical context. A critical approach to the interview (being specific and purposeful about the questions you ask) and analysis of the results are necessary in turning the casual conversation about memories of the past into oral history.

Oral history has an immediacy to it often lacking in traditional historical research. The human life span puts boundaries on the subject matter that can be collected with oral history. We can only go back one lifetime, so the limits move forward in time with each generation. This creates a sense of urgency, a realization that irretrievable information is slipping away from us with every moment.

Oral history fosters intergenerational appreciation and an awareness of the intersection between personal lives and larger historical currents. Oral history projects inspire active participation in history and civic life. Oral history, well done, gives one a sense of accomplishment. In collecting oral history, we have a sense of catching and holding something valuable from the receding tide of the past: “ So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

What will our oral history project entail?

a. Choose a topic OR INTERVIEWEE: Did the chicken come before the egg or the egg before the chicken? Where to start can be tricky. If you will be spending time and effort to do the work, you should study something that you will find interesting! But you need to make sure you have someone who is willing to be interviewed and share his or her oral history. I recommend you start close to home. Past students have found great success with interviewing grandparents, parents, or other extended family members. You can also look to your personal community for ideas. In the past, religious leaders, coaches, teachers, etc. have also been good choices. Once you figure out your topic, make sure the topic and interview intersect with American history (e.g. talking to grandma about growing up in Poland won’t work unless grandma moved to the U.S.—then you have an immigrants oral history.)

SUBMIT POSSIBLE TOPIC FOR APPROVAL BY: MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2016

b. Conduct initial research of topic: You want to get a general sense of your topic so you can begin to formulate a question that will guide your research and help you to generate questions about the topic for your interview—what you want to find out about the topic from the interviewee. Your research question will most likely evolve over the course of your work on the project and that’s okay. It most likely will get more specific as you become more familiar with your topic. [THERE WILL BE A SEPARATE HANDOUT TO HELP WITH THIS PROCESS]

INITIAL RESEARCH CHECK-INS: FRIDAY, APRIL 22 AND FRIDAY MAY 6, 2016

c. COLLLECT ORAL HISTORY: Interview someone of your choosing who has first-hand experience/knowledge of the topic. You can choose to interview a parent, grandparent, relative, neighbor, family friend, etc. The person you choose to interview does not have to be an expert about the topic, but they have to have some knowledge to offer about the topic that you can learn from. You will prepare a set of questions to guide your interview that you will turn in beforehand and have approved. You will also complete a short reflection piece allowing you to share the experience of interviewing. [THERE WILL BE A SEPARATE HANDOUT DETAILING THIS PROCESS]

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS APPROVED BY: THURSDAY, MAY 12 & INTERVIEW REFLECTION DUE: THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2016

d. FURTHER research of topic: After you conduct the interview, you will take what you learned and apply it to your topic. You will conduct further research on the topic that collects specific evidence to create a picture of the broader historical context of the oral history you collected from your interviewee. The idea is that your oral history allows you to better understand the topic of your research—your paper is about explaining those understandings/insights/conclusions/reflections/ opinions/connections.

· You must include a minimum of FOUR sources (encyclopedia, biographies/auto biographies, newspaper and magazine articles, government publications, Internet sites, etc.). Sources must be varied and may not be limited to Internet sources.

e. WRITE research PAPER: You will synthesize your oral history and research and write a paper that demonstrates your understanding and analysis of your topic. The written component must be at least 4 to 5 full type-written pages.

· Must be in essay format showing clear organization (have a thesis statement, topic sentences, evidence, and commentary/analysis) and must be in your own words.

· Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation; typed, double-space, no less than 1” margins.

· Must include a Works Cited (aka Bibliography) page documenting research materials and references.

OUTLINE DUE: TUESDAY, MAY 24 & RESEARCH PAPER DUE: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2016

f. EXHBITION OF RESEARCH: Create an exhibition of your oral history and research in order to share the project in a way that stays true to the interviewee’s voice and highlights what your learned about the topic. [THERE WILL BE A SEPARATE HANDOUT DETAILING THIS PROCESS]

EXHIBITION OF ORAL HISTORY PROJECT DUE: FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2016

Oral history essay thesis

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Degree Requirements and Courses

Degree Requirements and Courses ACADEMICS DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

To complete the Master of Arts degree in Oral History at Columbia University, students take a minimum of 30 credits of graduate course credit, which includes an M.A. thesis or capstone. Specific requirements are listed below.

1. Completion of Core Courses
Three courses (14 credits) - in addition to the Master’s Thesis course or capstone equivalency - are required (note that two of these are year-long):

  • Oral History Workshop - OHMA G5010 & G5011 (2 credits - P/F), Yearlong

This course is organized as a year-long series of public seminars on the wide range of issues raised by a consideration of how oral history methodologies impact disciplines in the social sciences as well as the humanities. Scholars who have used oral history and narrative analysis in their research will be drawn from the New York area. Students will participate by responding to speakers, and drawing upon their presentations in their own thesis work.

  • Oral History Method, Theory, and Interpretation - OHMA G5015 (4 credits), Fall

This interdisciplinary course, taken in the fall semester, is an in-depth introduction to the theoretical writings in oral history on historical research, memory, interviewing methodologies, life history and the application of theoretical paradigms to specific fieldwork problems. Students will identify a field research project in the first three weeks of the semester and address the dynamics of the interview and fieldwork situation through theoretical analysis of the historic context in which the interview takes place. Students will also analyze the strengths and weaknesses of interviewing methods as they apply to existing disciplinary paradigms. The broader focus of the course is to introduce students to the wide array of theoretical issues raised by the intersection of history, memory and life story narratives in the effort to understand the recent past in relation to critical issues of interpretation in today's world.

  • Oral History: Fieldwork, Production and Archiving - OHMA G5020 & G5021 (8 credits), Yearlong

This seminar is a year-long practicum in which students will learn and practice the skills required to conceptualize, conduct, analyze and disseminate oral history interviews. In the Fall semester, students learn project design, various genres of interviewing, audio recording, transcribing, indexing, and digital archiving. Students have the option of working on oral history projects conducted in partnership with New York City groups or working on their own projects. We weave together several strands of inquiry through the fall semester, some of which we follow into the spring:

  • nuts and bolts (audio recording, project design, transcribing, indexing)
  • interview strategies (peer interviews, balancing life history and a research focus, using research in an interview, working with embodiment in the interview, doing interviews in public)
  • power (legal and ethical issues, the interview relationship, oral history from an anti-oppression standpoint)
  • archiving (digital archiving, and this strand will carry over into the spring)
  • oral history and anthropology (comparative approaches to fieldwork, anthropological studies of oral history, and this strand will carry over into the spring)

By the Spring semester, students are expected to be primarily working on their own projects. In the Spring we will focus most of our attention on the analysis and dissemination of oral histories, including audio editing, online presentation, museum exhibits, and other public oral history genres. The spring course culminates in a public, multi-media, interactive pop-up exhibit created and curated by students.

2. Completion of Elective Courses
In addition to the core courses, OHMA students take at least 16 credits of additional graduate-level courses. Some elective courses are designed specifically for OHMA students.

  • Oral History Video Intensive - OHMA G5065 (1 credit - P/F), Fall short course

This is a short course designed as an introduction to video production for oral history. This month-long course will cover the selection of equipment (camera, light, and sound), basic shooting techniques for seated interviews, basic editing and video file management. Each student will complete the course having completed and created a clip from or lightly edited one video interview.

  • Oral History Internship - OHMA G5075 & 5076 (2-4 credits - P/F), Fall or Spring

This course provides an opportunity for Oral History MA Program students to engage in supervised internships for course credit. Students can plan an internship of approximately 100 hours of work for 2 credits, 150 hours of work for 3 credits, or 200 hours of work for 4 credits. The instructor will arrange some possible internship placements, but students are also free to make their own arrangements. Internships can relate to any element of oral history practice and research, including but not limited to project and program development, interviewing, interview processing, analysis and archiving, and creation of exhibits, documentaries, writing, walking tours, or websites using oral history. Internships must be substantive and have clear learning and professional development goals. More information is in the Internship Guide, here.

  • Social Science and Other Approaches to Studying Life History & Narrative Information- OHMA G8025 (4 credits), Fall

This course considers the ways in which social scientists can utilize narrative and life history data. The focus throughout is on developing tools for the analysis of narrative and life history and using the analysis of life histories to inform basic problems in social science and historical research. The methodologies that social scientists use to work with sequential data in order to review temporal processes will be considered in some detail. The contexts that will be explored in depth are varied and critically important for the modern time; case histories for medical professionals, stories for human rights workers, historical accounts of complex event sequences, and the processes of becoming—an activist, a revolutionary, a drug-addict, and so on.

  • From Oral History to Literary Narrative - OHMA G8040 (4 credits), Spring

An oral history is both a personal record of a life and potential source material for works by a broad range of scholars, policymakers and artists. This seminar provides an introduction to the art and craft of fashioning a work of literary nonfiction from oral histories. Although the emphasis will be on oral history, basic complementary first-person sources such as letters, diaries, interviews, and eyewitness accounts will also figure in the discussion.

  • Indigenous Oral Histories in Context - OHMA G8095 (4 credits), Spring

Through weekly readings, seminary discussions, experiential learning and independent research, students will be immersed in the discourse, debates, methods, theoretical approaches, philosophical concerns, and applications of Indigenous oral histories, both as sources and as research methodologies, from Indigenous perspectives.

  • To understand the nature of post(Anti)-colonial Indigenous Research Methodologies
  • To understand the nature and forms of Indigenous oral histories from multiple Indigenous perspectives;
  • To understand of the role of Indigenous oral histories & traditions in their own cultural contexts and the importance of local protocols;
  • To learn the historical development of Indigenous oral histories-based intellectual traditions; and,
  • To develop familiarity with and critical insights into a range of philosophical concerns arising out of Indigenous oral history research & research results.

Students may also choose to take electives within a discipline related to the student’s research interest that is not a part of the OHMA program. It must be approved by the program. While we encourage students to take some electives designed for OHMA students, they may also take electives in related disciplines at Columbia.

In some circumstances, an OHMA student may petition to be exempted from a required course in order to enroll in an elective that meets their scholarly goals. Students can contact program staff to inquire about this possibility.

OHMA-required courses must be taken for a letter grade, with the exception of Workshop. The Video Intensive and Internship course are always offered pass/fail. Other electives may occasionally be taken for R credit with the permission of both the instructor and the OHMA program.

3. Completion of Capstone Project or Master’s Thesis Course (4 credits) - OHMA G5012, Spring

OHMA offers two options for culminating M.A. projects. To complete the M.A. degree, each student must produce either a thesis or a capstone project. Thesis students enroll in a spring seminar (G4012) to workshop their projects, while capstone students create a public exhibition of their work in the spring Fieldwork course (G4021). Students writing theses have the option to option to submit their work for either May or October graduation. Capstone students conclude their degree at the end of the spring semester.

As a program, OHMA seeks to develop effective and innovative ways of communicating academic work to the public and encourage interdisciplinary scholarly work that is both creative and intellectually rigorous. In their culminating projects, students have the opportunity to produce a substantial piece of work that synthesizes their learning at OHMA and paves the way towards the next steps in their career. We support projects that use newly created and/or archived oral histories. Culminating projects may use oral histories as a raw material and/or take the oral history process itself as an object of study.

Most students complete a thesis, but some students may elect to complete a capstone project instead.

The thesis may incorporate a blend of publicly engaged and academic work, and may range from traditional scholarly writing to experimental creative production, but it must make a substantial and original contribution to the field and discipline of oral history. A thesis, which can be academic or creative in genre, is characterized by a sustained critical engagement with a body of scholarly literature in order to answer a defined research question. While many thesis projects are also publicly engaged, capstone projects are characterized by their use of oral histories primarily to contribute to public life. Students producing capstone projects write a short reflective essay explaining their goals and process.

All students will identify and work closely with a member of the OHMA faculty to guide their thesis or capstone work. Students may also include invite another scholar and/or artist working in a relevant field to serve on a thesis or capstone committee with their OHMA advisor.

Oral History - The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill

College of Arts and Sciences Oral History What this handout is about

This handout will help you figure out how to use oral histories in essays. It will give you suggestions for how to prepare for and conduct oral history interviews and help you determine, based on your context and purpose, how to integrate raw material into your essay.

Introduction

If we aren’t experts on a particular time or culture, our knowledge of it is often limited to major events and sweeping trends. This doesn’t necessarily help us understand the everyday experience of life in the past or in another culture. However, we do know a great deal about everyday experience in our own time and culture, and a large part of that knowledge comes not from textbooks but from talking to others. We learn about the histories of our families through conversation with those who remember them and about what various cultures value by observing their celebrations and listening to their music, among other things. So if you want to learn about another culture, country, era, etc. why not use a version of this strategy and talk to people who are or were part of it about their experiences and memories?

Oral history involves interviewing a person or group to get an inside perspective into what it was like to live in a particular time or is like to live as the member of a particular group within a society. Interviewing a group of people can create a picture of that experience, and a large project of this kind (such as UNC’s Southern Oral History Project) can be a way of preserving a piece of history. When we interview one person, we gain knowledge of an individual’s experiences, which may or may not be typical of his or her time and culture. We can also learn more about the experiences of groups from all sections of society, including the ones whose experience is not always thoroughly known or well documented, such as the working class, ethnic or religious minorities, or women.

When professors use oral history projects in classes, they usually ask you to interview only one or two people. The interview stage of the process requires effective question-making and interviewing skills. Usually, the project consists of taking raw material from an interview and shaping it into an essay. This step requires you to make some decisions about how you want to present the material and analytical skill to help you interpret what you learn.

Who uses oral history projects and why

Fields in which you might be assigned an oral history papers include history, anthropology, and other disciplines that study the experiences of specific social groups such as women or ethnic groups. The goals of these fields affect the ways they use this kind of project.

History: Historians use evidence to understand the experiences of people in the past. Oral history can be a valuable source of evidence for understanding the experiences of individuals or groups within a certain historical period. Oral testimony cannot replace analysis of traditional historical materials (official documents, letters, newspapers, secondary sources, etc.). It can, however, reveal the role of individuals in shaping the past and/or how larger trends impacted the individual. When an oral history essay places the experiences of an individual within the context of a historical period, it can help illuminate both the individual’s experience and the historical period.

Folklore: Folklorists study culture as it is expressed in everyday life and often use oral history projects to gather materials to preserve and study. Interviewing individuals is one of the primary means of accessing folklore; for example, folklorists use oral histories to learn about a culture’s musical traditions or festivals.

Anthropology: An archeologist might use oral history to learn more about the lifeways of peoples who have living descendants or to locate sites for archeological excavation. A cultural anthropologist might use oral history as a way to understand how individuals think of themselves in relation to the rest of the world. This technique can help anthropologists understand how culture shapes individuals either consciously or unconsciously, on the one hand, and the ways that individuals contribute to the production of culture, on the other hand.

Fields that study marginalized social groups (such as women, African-Americans, Latino/as): In these fields, conducting and analyzing an interview is a way of uncovering experience that might be underrepresented in mainstream culture. Dominant cultures have a tendency not to notice or acknowledge the experiences of certain subgroups, viewing them as peripheral rather than central—in other words, marginalizing them. Academic fields have emerged to explore the experiences of marginalized groups, and these fields tend to value experiential knowledge. Oral history projects can be a way of accessing such knowledge.

Preparing for the interview
  • Before the interview, familiarize yourself with the history and characteristics of the culture your interviewee is from. That way, you’ll have a context for what you learn.
  • Some interviews may be fairly unstructured, with only general guidance from you. For instance, you may just choose some topics to discuss, allowing the interviewee to lead the way. This is appropriate when your goal is relatively broad, such as the preservation of the person’s voice, memories, and perspective, as opposed to using the interview to construct a focused argument.
  • Some interviews, especially those in undergraduate course assignments, are more highly structured and take the shape of a list of questions and responses. This is especially useful when you hope to use the raw material of the interview to make a particular point or are looking to address very focused issues. If you are planning a more structured interview, prepare a list of questions, including some basic ones about aspects of the person’s identity (such as age, level of education, and occupation). In devising your questions, consider the interviewee’s cultural context. Think about what kinds of issues would be most helpful for you to learn about. For instance, learning how the person felt about major life events might help you understand how your interviewee sees his or her life as a whole. Questions about what it was actually like to live through segregation or the Vietnam War might give you a new perspective on a historical time period. As you ask your questions, work from your list, but be ready to ask follow-up questions in case you don’t understand the response or want to know more. A response to one of your questions may also trigger curiosity about some other issue, so it’s good to be ready to follow whatever path seems most promising.
  • Include open-ended questions, especially “how” and “why” questions, as they will probably yield the richest raw material for your essay; asking yes/no questions is okay for gathering factual information.
  • Ask for examples when you think it would help you (and the readers of your essay) understand the person’s perspective.
Conducting the interview
  • To conduct the interviewing process in an ethical way, ask the person’s permission to use his/her comments in your essay; written consent is ideal so you have a record of it. If you are recording a phone conversation, the interviewee’s written consent is requird by law. Ask if the interviewee would prefer that you not use his or her actual name.
  • Tape record the interview if possible. If you try to work only from notes, you won’t have an exact record of the person’s comments and could end up distorting their meaning. Test your tape recorder, digital voice recorder, or videocamera ahead of time and bring extra batteries if necessary.
  • If you’re recording, try to minimize background noise. In any interview setting, try to select an environment free from distractions, so that both you and the interviewee will be able to concentrate. Choose a spot where you will both feel comfortable.
  • Silence will feel awkward at first, but give your interviewee a chance to think. Don’t move on too quickly just because there is a bit of a pause.
  • Watch for signs of fatigue. If the person you’re interviewing begins to seem tired, take a break or set up another time to finish the interview.
  • Treat the person you’re interviewing with respect, regardless of your own attitudes and opinions. Making assumptions about the person may damage trust and skew the essay you write.
Transcribing oral histories

Sometimes, you may be asked to transcribe your oral history interview or part of it. Transcription is the process of taking a sound file and translating it to text; it creates a written transcript of an oral conversation. One of the goals of transcribing interviews is to give readers a sense of the interview—how was it formatted, was it formal or informal, did the interviewer ask a lot of questions or did the interview subject do most of the talking with just a few prompts, what language and speaking style did the participants use?

A transcript of an oral history interview is, in the words of one style guide, “at best an imperfect representation of an oral interview. The transcriber’s most important task is to render as close a replica to the actual event as possible. Accuracy, not speed, is the transcriber’s goal” (Baylor Style Guide). Therefore, the transcript should reflect, as closely as possible, the words, speech patterns, and thought patterns of the interview subject. His or her word choice, grammar, and ideas should be transcribed as accurately as possible. It’s not generally necessary, though, to reproduce a dialect or accent, unless you have specific training in doing so. The same style guide says, “Oral history is not an exercise in literary composition; the transcriber should avoid value judgments about the grammar or vocabulary of an interviewee.”

Transcribing can be a long and very detailed process. It will be easiest if you take detailed notes during the interview about the different questions, topics, and themes that you discuss. Write down any memorable phrases or ideas, so you have some markers for different points in the interview. You will need to listen to the entire portion of the interview to be transcribed several times. Many people find it helpful to listen all the way through a section once, then again, transcribing as much as possible, then a third (or fourth, or fifth!) time in order to fill in all the holes. At the end of this handout, you will find some websites that detail how to transcribe an oral history interview.

When you have a complete transcript, it is common practice to return it to the interviewee for editing—these changes can be noted in various ways or integrated into the document. Interviewees may need to correct things like dates, names, or places. Or they may want to provide more elaboration or clarification on a subject. Though this is standard practice for professional historians, your instructor may or may not expect you to do this.

Turning the raw material into an essay

The process you use will depend on what you want your essay to do. If, for instance, you want your essay merely to showcase an individual’s thoughts on a time or subject, you will simply need to frame the comments of the interviewee and shape them into a narrative. If, on the other hand, your intention is to interpret the interviewee’s comments, using them as evidence for an argument, you will need to make a strong argument while still letting the interviewee’s experience and insights come through. Your essay might use the interviewee’s comments to advance an alternate interpretation of a historical time or culture, confirm a commonly held characterization, or enrich an existing view.

Because oral history papers can vary a great deal according to their aims, make sure to develop a clear sense of your purpose. The assignment itself may specify quite clearly what kind of an oral history project you may do or leave many of the choices up to you. In either case, figuring out what you want your essay to accomplish will help you make definitive decisions about how to write it.

Decisions you’ll need to make about your project

First, determine the overall purpose of your essay. What would you like your essay to do?

      A. Transcribe the comments of the individual.

    B. Present the experiences and/or perspective of the individual.

    C. Place the individual’s experiences and/or perspective within a larger historical or social context.

    D. Use the individual’s experiences and/or perspective to make an argument about a larger historical or social context.

(C and D are especially common in undergraduate assignments of this type, but every assignment is different.)

Based on your answer to the above question, choose which section of this handout you’d like to read. If you’re not certain what you’d like your essay to do, read through all of the following sections to get a better sense of what your essay might include.

If you answered A. that you want your essay to transcribe the comments of the individual, consider the following questions and responses.

What should you say about the interviewee’s comments?

Introduce the individual, explain the circumstances of the interview, and then literally transcribe your questions and their responses.

How should you structure your essay?

    Present the questions and responses in the order you asked the questions. You may also include an introduction that briefly describes the person.

How should you present quotes and use paraphrases?

    Transcribe the questions and responses so that paraphrases won’t be necessary. A question and answer format is a clear way to present a transcription (see the “examples” section at the end of this handout).

Should you read and/or incorporate secondary sources?

    Whether or not you need to use secondary sources is partially a matter of what the assignment calls for. Secondary sources about the cultural context might help you think of your questions, but you won’t need to include them in your transcription of the responses.

Here is an example of how you might handle one of your interviewee’s comments within the body of the essay. Suppose that your paper is for a women’s studies project in which your instructor has asked you to interview a female family member; you have chosen to interview your grandmother, Lucretia. Suppose that you asked the following question: “How free did you feel in terms of choosing your jobs? If you felt limited, why do you think that might have been?”

If you want your essay to transcribe the interview, you will just present the questions and answers:

    [Your name]: How free did you feel in terms of choosing your jobs? If you felt limited, why do you think that might have been?

Lucretia: I have always been good at organizing things and getting along with people, so that made it easy for me to find receptionist jobs. But in those times, you didn’t see women executives. That was just how things were; people simply didn’t consider women for those jobs. If you answered B. that you want your essay to present the experiences and/or perspective of the individual, consider the following questions and responses.

What should you say about the interviewee’s comments?

    Introduce the individual and outline the topics that the interview explored. Then use these topics to help you decide whether you want to organize the essay by the sequence of your questions or by topics that emerged as you reviewed your notes. You may frame the interviewee’s comments by providing transitions and a conclusion that reiterates the central point(s) that the interview revealed.

How should you structure your essay?

    Your introduction should say a few things about who the person is and name some of the recurring themes or issues to prepare the reader to notice those in the body of the essay. The body of the essay should organize the interviewee’s comments, for instance chronologically or topically, and provide bridges (transitions) between sections.

How should you present quotes and use paraphrases?

    Frame your quotes will phrases like “Sue Ellen explained. ” or “Horatio’s view on plum trees is that. ”; if you use paraphrases, be careful not to change their implications or lose their intent, since your goal is to present rather than interpret. For this approach as well as the next, our handout on handling quotations might be helpful.

Should you read and/or incorporate secondary sources?

    Whether or not you need to use secondary sources is partially a matter of what the assignment calls for. Secondary sources about the cultural context might help you think of your questions, but you won’t need to include them in your transcription of the responses.

Here is an example of how you might handle one of your interviewee’s comments within the body of the essay. Suppose that your paper is for a women’s studies project in which your instructor has asked you to interview a female family member; you have chosen to interview your grandmother, Lucretia. Suppose that you asked the following question: “How free did you feel in terms of choosing your jobs? If you felt limited, why do you think that might have been?”

If your assignment asks you to present (“B”) the results in essay form, you will integrate the questions and answers into your text, although sometimes you may find it easier to just paraphrase the question:

While Lucretia does feel that her occupational life offered her some opportunities, she describes feeling a sense of limitation, at least in retrospect: “I have always been good at organizing things and getting along with people, so that made it easy for me to find receptionist jobs. But in those times, you didn’t see women executives. That was just how things were; people simply didn’t consider women for those jobs.” If you answered C. that you want your essay to place the individual’s experiences and/or perspective within a larger historical or social context, consider the following questions and responses.

What should you say about the interviewee’s comments?

    Analyze the responses to your questions and what they illustrate about their historical or social context. You might consider how your interviewee’s identity (his or her class, gender, and ethnicity, for instance) relates to the nature of the interviewee’s experience or perspective. For this kind of essay, you’ll need an analytical thesis statement (see our handout on thesis statements), a plan for how to organize the subtopics that demonstrate your thesis, analysis/interpretation of the interviewee’s comments, and a conclusion that draws your analysis together.

How should you structure your essay?

    Your introduction should contain and explain a thesis statement that makes a claim about the nature of the historical or social context. Organizing the body paragraphs by topic may be an effective way of explaining how the individual’s experiences fit into the broader historical or social context.

How should you present quotes and use paraphrases?

    You’ll provide framing phrases as in the previous case, but you’ll also need to include your explanation of the significance of the quotes. A good general guideline is to include at least as much explanation of the quote as the quote is long. Paraphrases are helpful when you need just the content of the comment to make your point—that is, when the language the interviewee uses is not the primary issue. If you’re writing an analytical or argumentative essay, a mixture of paraphrases and quotes will probably serve your purpose best.

Should you read and/or incorporate secondary sources?

    Whether or not you need to use secondary sources is partially a matter of what the assignment calls for. But if the assignment doesn’t specify, you’ll probably need to read and perhaps refer explicitly to some secondary sources so that you will have the necessary evidence to create a picture of the broader historical or social context.

Here is an example of how you might handle one of your interviewee’s comments within the body of the essay. Suppose that your paper is for a women’s studies project in which your instructor has asked you to interview a female family member; you have chosen to interview your grandmother, Lucretia. Suppose that you asked the following question: “How free did you feel in terms of choosing your jobs? If you felt limited, why do you think that might have been?”

If your assignment asks you to place the responses in their social context, you will need to integrate the quotes into text, paired with either the questions themselves or paraphrases, along with some analysis of how the individual’s experiences fit into his or her social context. You may even include some references to secondary sources, depending on the assignment and your own sense of whether they would strengthen your analysis:

    Lucretia describes feeling limited in terms of her occupational life: “I have always been good at organizing things and getting along with people, so that made it easy for me to find receptionist jobs. But in those times, you didn’t see women executives. That was just how things were; people simply didn’t consider women for those jobs.” Her account reveals a sense of how fixed gender roles were in the workplace and seems fairly typical for the time and place, as feminist historian Tammy Ixplox’s scholarship suggests (Ixplox 39).
If you answered D. that you want your essay to use the individual’s experiences and/or perspective to make an argument about a larger historical or social context, consider the following questions and responses.

What should you say about the interviewee’s comments?

Use the interviewee’s comments as evidence for an argument you want to make about a particular historical or social context. For instance, you might want to argue that working-class women’s experience in 1950s America does not necessarily fit with popularly-held notions of the fifties housewife. Or you might want to show how racism affected one African-American man’s everyday life to demonstrate how insidious racism can be. For these kinds of essays, you may need some supporting research to get a better sense of the historical and social context, so you’ll understand how the individual’s experience relates to broader cultural trends and phenomena. In terms of what the essay will look like, you’ll need a thesis that makes a claim, an organizational plan that reflects the main points you think will best support that thesis, lots of explanation of how the interviewee’s comments illustrate the thesis, and a conclusion that draws your argument together.

How should you structure your essay?

    You’ll need an introduction with a strong, interpretive thesis statement that the body of the essay explains and demonstrates. The interviewee’s comments will function as evidence for your argument, so each body paragraph should correspond to a point in your argument.

How should you present quotes and use paraphrases?

    You’ll provide framing phrases as in the previous case, but you’ll also need to include your explanation of the significance of the quotes. A good rule of thumb is to include at least as much explanation of the quote as the quote is long. Paraphrases are helpful when you need just the content of the comment to make your point—that is, when the language the interviewee uses is not the primary issue. If you’re writing an analytical or argumentative essay, a mixture of paraphrases and quotes will probably serve your purpose best.

Should you read and/or incorporate secondary sources?

    Whether or not you need to use secondary sources is partially a matter of what the assignment calls for. But if the assignment doesn’t specify, you’ll probably need to read and incorporate some secondary sources to complement or provide a counterpoint to the interviewee’s comments and to support your claims about the larger historical or social context.

Here is an example of how you might handle one of your interviewee’s comments within the body of the essay. Suppose that your paper is for a women’s studies project in which your instructor has asked you to interview a female family member; you have chosen to interview your grandmother, Lucretia. Suppose that you asked the following question: “How free did you feel in terms of choosing your jobs? If you felt limited, why do you think that might have been?”

If your assignment asks you to make an argument, for example, about how the interviewee’s responses reflect gender issues and roles, you will need to integrate the quotes into your text as evidence for your argument about gender roles, perhaps with reference to secondary sources if appropriate:

    Lucretia’s experiences reveal gender roles in the workplace, in which men tended to fill the executive positions and women the less prestigious ones. She describes feeling limited in terms of her occupational life: “I have always been good at organizing things and getting along with people, so that made it easy for me to find receptionist jobs. But in those times, you didn’t see women executives. That was just how things were; people simply didn’t consider women for those jobs.” In her experience, no one questioned these roles, which reveals how ingrained and even internalized social expectations for men and women were at the time. This phenomenon is consistent with feminist historian Tammy Ixplox’s scholarship on this cultural context (Ixplox 39).
Relevant websites

Baylor Oral History Institute, “Transcribing Style Guide” (this website has an extensive style guide about the purpose for transcription and about how to handle various types of speech.):
http://www3.baylor.edu/Oral_History/Styleguiderev.htm

Library of Congress, Veterans History Project, “Indexing and Transcribing Your Interviews”:
http://www.loc.gov/vets/transcribe.html

Making Sense of Oral History (includes a section on interpreting oral history and a sample interpretation):
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/oral/

Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History (this is geared towards large oral history projQects, but it makes points that are relevant to a smaller project, such as when you only interview one person):
http://www.dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/oralHistory.html

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