Archive for November, 2012


Monday, November 19th, 2012

I found the reading by Lynn Abrams very insightful. The specific way she has her introduction broken down into the different aspects of oral history was extremely interesting especially at this point in the semester. She points out common issues and concerns dealing with the process of recording and transcribing that I found helpful. Much like our other assigned readings for this week she ties in the ideas of fellow historians such as Luisa Passerini, Ronald Grele, and Alessandro Portelli, she relies on their concepts to further explain the complexities of oral history. Like our past readings this semester, Abrams discusses the issues surrounding the use of “memory” as a historical source and the reliability it holds in historical accuracy. Daniel James’ article, Dona Maria’s Story, provides great detail surrounding his experiences interviewing Dona Maria and others who worked within the meatpacking industry in Argentina. His article also references works by Passerini, Grele, and Portelli and their relation in regards to the work he did surrounding his interviews. James focuses on the importance of the relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee and how influential the relationship is to the outcome of the interview. As he mentions, his interview with Dona Maria was originally only supposed to be an hour or so, but he ended up recording over 30 hours of interview and explains how close he felt to Dona Maria after the 9 months he spent interviewing her. James also mentions another set of interviews he did with another man who worked in the meatpacking community. He explains how his relationship or lack thereof heavily influenced the information provided in the interviews. That’s Not What I Said was a very surprising read and not at all what I expected. Delivery of information is everything when it comes to how it is analyzed.


Primary Source-Week 13

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Murrow Broadcast

I found this on I picked this because Ruby talked about hearing Edward R. Murrow’s broadcasts during the war, although not in detail. I think to fully understand radio, you have to try to listen to things. The way Murrow presents this broadcast from London, he’s trying to allow the listener to visualize what London may look like. The actual broadcast is interesting because of Murrow’s ability to transport the listener to London. Also, the broadcast is relatively short, which helps listeners because Americans are not known for their long attention spans. I am curious to know; how did Murrow decide what he would talk about each broadcast? Was he under pressure to keep glimmers of hope for people? I know Ruby talked about how she always hoped to see her husband in newsreels at the movies, but never did.

Week 13

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Borland brought up an interesting point. Our interpretations could differ tremendously from what our narrators intend. Applying feminism to an interview, or trying to place it in context could definitely manage to make our interviewees very angry. I worry about this because my own grandmother can be very opinionated and I’m saving her transcript to go over with her during Thanksgiving because I know she won’t read it on her own. However, I think it depends on the power of suggestion as well. If I made it sound as though my grandma was a super bad ass, than I think she’d be more receptive to the interpretation. But in her interview, I feel like she’s also sensationalized some parts, making interpretation all the more important (as in why would she sensationalize those parts?).

Smith brings up that oral histories are already analytic. I hadn’t thought about that before but it’s true. Our narrators have analyzed and decided to which parts THEY think are most relevant to what we are seeking. Our job is to challenge that and try to get more information they may not necessarily have included.

From James, I thought the most interesting part was when he pointed out that Maria would try to equalize herself with him. So her explanation would draw ties to university, which in itself is interesting. My narrators both would say, “it’s not like today…” or try to make me understand what they were talking about by tying it to something I knew about.

Abrams makes her impact on the first page, noting that “not just what is said, but also how it is said, why it is said, and what it means” (1).  To me, this is the most important goal of oral history analysis. We embed meaning  into every day conversations by narrating with emphasis or skirting around certain issues. I think keeping this quote in particular in mind will definitely help with writing the paper.

Is oral history ahistorical in that when we interpret interviews, we do so with our modern ideas as well as our narrator’s modern reflections on past events?

Word Count: 350

Primary Source 9

Monday, November 19th, 2012

This picture below is directed toward Americans and their belittlement of the Japanese. It labels the trap material conservation to prod at the Japanese behavior and how we were involved with them at one point.,r:16,s:0,i:172

Week 12 Primary Source

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The picture below shows a 21 year old African American woman working during World War 2.  During World War 2 more opportunities were given to African Americans and women than any other time before the war.  I selected this picture due to my group project being based around the workforce during World War 2.

Week 12 Journal Response

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The readings this week really helped me understand how others have interpreted interviews and used them successfully and unsuccessfully.  The Borland article was a very surprising article that shows that even scholars at a high level make mistakes.  The feminist approach Borland took was very interesting but her grandma said it was inaccurate.  The reading shows us how easy it is to misinterpret a narrative.   The analytic article strategies article focused on scholars use of narrative analysis to understand the history of where the interviewee is coming from.  Smith mentioned that there were 3 basic principles fundamental to all historical research.  The three principles basically focused on fact checking, cross checking, and a wide understanding of the interview. These three principles will be used while working on our papers to ensure accuracy and proper context.  The reading also looked at  Luisa Passerini’s case of breaking down interviews.    Passerini noted irrelevancies, inaccuracies, contradictions, silences, and self-censorship in the interviews.  Passeri concluded that the interviews all stemmed from a collective memory of what they experienced.   The Daniel James article was about interviews done on an Argentine meatpacking community.  The interview originally was only suppose to last a few hours but James ended up staying for 9 months and recording 30 hours of interviewing.  The transcription came out to 600 pages which was mind blowing.  In one interview a man exploded when interrupted during the interview.  The Abrams article was almost like an introduction to all of the above mentioned readings as it mentioned the Passerini and James reading.  The reading mentions the importance of the relationship between the 2 people, the inclusion of disciplines other than History, and the transcripts.


(Word Count: 270)

Question: If a person had began to yell at me during an interview, what would have been the best method to calm them down?

Show-Business at War (1943)

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

This short film showed how the entertainment industry participated in the war effort. Although it was distributed by 20th Century Fox, this “March of Time” newsreel was a collaboration between studios, directors, and actors.


Week 13 Primary Source

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

These pictures are on the National Archives website. The URL link to see these pages is: The significance of these pictures works well in conjunction to Richard Smith’s article, Analytic Strategies for Oral History Interviews. In his article, Smith brings up the interviewee’s and interviewers memories and historical accurateness of gender stereotypes. Smith uses the term “born rebels” to describe women who were born before and after 1900 who believed they were “capable workers with instinctive or natural-know-how, a convention that preserved traditional patriarchal and artisanal values.” (714)
These series of pictures show women working competently in what was preconceived as more masculine roles before WWII.

Week 13 Journal

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

In his article, Listening in the Cold, Dona Mari’s Story, Daniel James agrees with oral historians Luisa Passerini, Ronald Grele, and Alessandro Portelli that oral history is more complex than just an individual’s oral testimony. There is an underlying conflict between narrative testimonies and the validity and reliability in regards to historical accurateness. James states that oral histories are “life stories are cultural constructs that draw on a public discourse structured by class and gender conventions.” (124) James also wrote that “we have to learn to read these stories and the symbols and logic embedded in them if we are to attend to their deeper meaning to do justice to the complexity found in the lives and historical experiences of those who recount them.” (124) These concerns are shown in Smith and Borland’s’ articles, which bring up the topic of social stereotypes via a women’s role in society. Borland states in her article, “That’s Not What I Said”: Interpretive Conflict in Oral Narrative Research, ”our aims in pointing out certain features, or in making connections between the narrative and larger cultural formations, may at times differ from the original narrator’s intentions.” (64) James interviews Dona Maria; about her experience with the meat packing industry and Borland introduces the readers to syntagmatic analysis in the horse race interview.

(Word count 239)

Question: From what we have learned over the semester, what are solutions to the questions within the interpretive conflict of Oral History?


Journal 8

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The article “That’s Not What I Said” was much different than I anticipated, yet I still learned from the literature. I thought it is interesting how the narrative of an interviewee is broken down and analyzed based on the nature that its delivered. It gives me a different perspective on how messages are interpreted and various nonverbal messages also influence the way things may be interpreted. This article will allow me to better evaluate my analyses of my interviews. I also appreciate the way peoples interpretations were explained when the author says “For when we do interpretations, we bring our own knowledge, experience, and concerns to our material, and the result, we hope, is a richer more textured understand of its meaning.” I think this is an articulate way to explain means of interpretation. I think Kelly made a good point in her post when she mentioned the article “Listening in the Cold” that touched on the importance of ones surroundings during the interview. Additionally, the literature touches on how much it can influence, for better or worse, the final result the interview produces. How often do you think interviews are depreciated because of the a detractor in the environment the individuals are in? It is an aspect of the interview that has to be accounted for in the preparation phase. However, not everything can be effectively planned for so it’s useful to be able to adapt to obstacles in the interview process. The ability of adapt and make adjustments can significantly help ensure an interviews quality and integrity.