On September 30th, I remember reading Principles for Oral Histories and Best Practices on the bus on the way to a soccer game. I remember reading this and taking notes on the bus. Colin, my roommate, who sits next to me before every game asked me, why are you learning about oral history? My response was one word: preservation. He proceeded to put his headphones on and listen to his rap music and I continued to take notes on best practices of oral history. I made a connection between oral history and music. Music, similarly to oral history tells a story. Music is a form of history since we can learn so much from the music, the lyrics, the beat, the dance. These aspects that can be learned in a song, can also be learned in an oral history. As I continued learning and reading about oral histories, the most important thing I acquired was the importance of research. RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH! Nothing could happen until the research phase begins. To me, research is not just a phase. It is an ongoing process.
This is something I learned from creating my OMEKA exhibit. When I was first planning my OMEKA exhibit, I figured I would just do all my research first, get all my pictures, my information, and then entering it into omeka was the easy part. I was wrong! I have continued to do research. I have continued documenting. I have continued learning.
So, this takes me back to oral history. My first oral history was with Gary Pershad about the ongoing struggle between students, student athletes, and campus police. I thought, “oh Gary is my friend, I don’t need that much research”. I was wrong again. I met with Gary a few days before our interview and I was not prepared. When I got back to my room that night I sat on my computer for two hours and just did research. I did research about Muhlenberg, campus police, protest, and oral history. Finally, on interview day, I was prepared.
As the year went on, I learned more about ethics, oral history, and archiving. Dr. Gail DeKosnik came in to speak with us and I really valued this day. I learned so much about Rogue Archivists and archiving in general. I wrote another blog post on what I learned. I decided to incorporate this in my exhibit about social media and the importance of archiving.
The other night when I had the flu, I was doing research on archiving and the challenges we as media users face. I remember reading a Roy Rosenzweig article earlier in the year about the importance of archiving and preserving history. Well, I think this is essential. In the digital world we live in, being able to snap photos and videos, post live statuses. It’s all amazing until it’s gone. We need to archive.
So, as the semester comes to an end so does Documentary Archives, Protest and Activism. But the oral histories, the preservation of history, my skills about archiving, my knowledge about social media, and the internet, and politics, all that lives on. As technology and the media continues to grow, so do I. And I grow through research.