Week Thirteen

Today I conducted my long-anticipated interview with the Seabee veteran.  It was a great interview: he needed very little prompting to speak about a topic at great length and for a man in his 90’s his recall of events more than 70 years ago is extremely impressive.  I had far more questions than we had time for but I improvised by taking the best and most relevant and sticking to those. The veteran had a great sense of humor which made the interview much more enjoyable for everyone.  He also brought his godson and his youngest son with him and they sat in the back of the room which I was hesitant about, thinking about my experiences with 3-person interviews.  However, they sat quietly during the interview and everything went very well.  I made sure to thank him as an individual and as an employee of the Library for coming in to see us.  One thing that I felt I should do was to reinforce the idea that here at the Library as well as for me personally, combat stories generally receive the most attention but ALL veterans and their stories were important.  He really seemed to appreciate that.  All in all, the veteran and his family seemed very pleased with the interview and I am very glad I was able to do it.  This will be my last entry and I just want to say that I am profoundly grateful for my time here and for the opportunities it has given me.  The staff here at the Library is fantastic and I wish them all the best.  This has been a wonderful experience for me.

Week Twelve

This week we were able to confirm a time for my interview! I am very excited because I was worried that I my time at the Library would end before we were able to schedule it.  The interview is scheduled for next week which is also my last week here.  I spent most of my time this week doing more transcribing but Tom also took me down into the Oral History room and explained the interview procedures to me as well as interview mannerisms and strategies that I should use as well as introduced me to the recording equipment which thankfully I don’t have to operate. I’m really looking forward to the interview.

Week Eleven

This week I continued my current transcription after having to work on another one last week due to a slight scheduling rearrangement. The three-person interview has started to go much more smoothly because now the person being asked to answer questions is also the more vocal so the transcription work is much simpler and I am making progress.  Tom has been trying to contact the gentleman I am supposed to interview.  I only have a few more weeks here so I hope we will be able to do the interview soon.

Week Ten

This week marks approximately the half-way point of my internship here at the library. I completed an evaluation of the time I have spent here and talked it over with Christy.  The evaluation asked about many things but I feel the thing worth mentioning was when it asked about improvements that could be made.  I suggested that when doing oral history interviews that three-person interviews be discontinued but more importantly that during the interview itself I feel that 2 microphones should be used, one on each person to help ensure better audio quality and to lessen the frequency of instances where the audio is indecipherable.  Other than that I continued work on transcription this week.  Reflecting back on my experiences so far, I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here and to be part of this organization.

Week Nine

This week has been pretty uneventful and I am now thoroughly in my grove at the Library. I continued transcription on the 3 person interview.  It continues to be difficult to transcribe; there is a lot of dialogue talking place at the same time so it is difficult and time-consuming to distinguish who is talking.  Still no word on when I will be doing my interview but hopefully it will be soon.  However everything is going well and I am continually grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Week Eight

With my interview questions submitted and approved by Tom, I have gone back to transcribing interviews.  This interview is particularly difficult to transcribe because it contains not one but two interviewees which multiplies the instances of people mumbling, talking over each other, or interrupting.  This interview also had the son of one of the interviewees answering questions addressed to his father.  While the information the son provides is of good quality and contains a high degree of detail, it detracts from the overall quality of the experience.  It would be my recommendation that the PLM and oral history in general avoid interviewing more than one person at a time because the more vocal person or people tend to dominate the interview.  Overall things are going well and we should be able to conduct my interview soon.

Week Seven

This week I finished working on my list of potential interview questions for the interview Tom wants me to conduct with a veteran.  I feel my experience doing transcription has helped me greatly to create relevant and poignant questions for the gentleman I will be interviewing.  I submitted my list of questions which was about 13 pages long to Tom for him to review.  Tom will now contact the veteran to see when he is available for the interview, which hopefully we will be able to do in the next  two weeks.  Tom has had me start on another transcription in the meantime of a double interview with a WWII veteran and is son who is a veteran of the Vietnam War so this will most likely be a very interesting interview.  All in all I feel things are progressing well and that I am making a contribution to preserving history for future generations.

Week Six

This week, in an effort to better understand the Seabee’s and their purpose, I conducted research on their background and history during the time when my interviewee served.  This has helped me to come up with more specific questions that relate to this veteran particularly rather than generic questions.  I feel confident that I now have a good set of interview questions (a 13 page document) although I still need to submit them to Tom for his input.  I feel i have been very productive this week and am moving forward.

Week Five

I made a great deal of progress this week on my interview questions for the interview I am set to conduct.  I am doing research on the events and actions the veteran was involved in as well as his unit.  Several of his answers to questions in the introductory questionnaire have also been provocative or informative enough to warrant further research.  I really want to go into the interview with a solid set of questions for him that cover the basics but also are customized for his individual experience.  Questions that have been too generic were something I noticed in other interviews I have transcribed so I am trying to address that issue in my own interview.  I wish to optimize the use of this gentleman’s time for a high quality interview.

Week Four

This week I successfully completed my second transcription.  It is really hitting home now just how long it takes to do transcription and how labor intensive it is.  I’m sure I am beating a dead horse on that point but its the truth.  Fortunately it is interesting.  Tom has asked me to begin doing research on a veteran who was a Seabee during WWII.  I have to do research in order to come up with questions to ask him during the interview I will be conducting soon.  I am very much looking forward to the prospect of talking to this gentlemen and I’m sure it will be both a pleasant and educational experience for me.  This is especially important because by doing this interview I will be making a concrete contribution to preserving the stories of our nation’s veterans.