Friday, January 25, 2013

More from First Person

In recent weeks we've been actively promoting our upcoming First Person Project day, coming up on Friday, February 8, 2013. I've received lots of calls from interested participants (yay!), many of whom have some questions about how the interview process works and how they should get started putting together questions. I wanted to take a moment here on the blog to answer some of these questions and provide a small example of the work we're doing through FPP.

When an interview pair sign up to participate in the project, they decide what roles to take on - which person will serve as the interviewer (question asker), and which one will serve as the interviewee (question answerer). I advise participants to devote some time to thinking about what stories they most want to record, and developing their questions around these central portions of the interview. Since our upcoming project day is themed around "stories of love" I've suggested thinking about those key stories that the pair want to record -- for example, if a married couple signed up and wanted to document their relationship, I might suggest that they talk about when they first met, what their first date was like, what made them decide to get married, etc. Once the ball gets rolling, they will likely have other important stories about their relationship that will emerge naturally from just the spark of these initial questions. In the end, the work of developing those questions and choosing the focus of the interview is up to the interview pair. Really, it is the relationship between the two participants -- husband and wife, father and daughter, friend and friend -- that makes the interview rich. 

This past October, we had a mother and son interview pair participate in FPP. The son wanted to interview his mother about her life and times -- childhood, marriage, family, and all the events that happened in between and around these milestones. The result was a spellbinding story, and I wanted to share just a short clip of the final product. 

In the clip below the interviewee, Marjorie, tells her son how she and her husband fell in love during World War II. A childhood friend gone to war encouraged her to write to him during his service abroad, because he was homesick. She started writing, and the letters turned into occasional phone calls and then a delivery of a box of chocolate. And then she describes the day they learned the war was over, and the moment she looked out the window and saw her future husband coming down the street to meet her. 

I picked this small slice of an incredible interview because it resonates with our upcoming theme day "stories of love." It is just one part of a much larger story about Marjorie's life and times, but it demonstrates that even a small moment in an interview can be meaningful.  I hope you enjoy the clip, and that I'll hear more from some of you who are interested in participating in the First Person Project.

Post by Jan Levinson, Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

No comments: