Tag Archive for 'oral history'

“Blowout!” New Multimedia Book on the Way

Today the LCRM Project team finalized a file that we have been working on for a few months.  It contains 2.5 hours of audio and 1 hour of video in the form of 100 excerpts from archival sources—mostly interviews with 10 individuals, but also some film footage from 1968.  The file is our latest enhanced e-book, Blowout!  Sal Castro and the Struggle for Educational Justice by Mario García and Sal Castro.  The book is about the student walkouts in 1968 that started the Chicano rights movement.

Published in hardcover in 2011 by UNC Press, Blowout!  is an ideal candidate to become an enhanced e-book because it is based on oral-history interviews.  Sal Castro’s first-person narrative, as transcribed by Professor García of U.C. Santa Barbara from some 50 interview tapes, forms the central narrative.  In the print version, brief quotes from the students are interspersed throughout the book.  In the enhanced version, we were able to include much more of these interviews, transforming a one-person narrative into more of a multi-voiced production.

We have also included a number of documents.  A few standout items are J.F. Kennedy’s Los Angeles itinerary from the day he met with Castro only one week before he won the 1960 Presidential election, a telegram containing Senator Robert Kennedy’s endorsement of the students’ efforts, a page from a student newspaper expressing outrage at biased treatment by teachers and administrators, and materials given to students attending the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference (CYLC) in 1964, 1965, and 2004.  (When you read the book, you’ll understand how important this CYLC material was in helping to shape generations of Chicano leaders.) All told, these important items comprise 100 pages of documents and images that the reader can enlarge to see more detail. Earlier this afternoon, we sent the file to Professor García for checking on his iPad.  Official release of the enhanced e-book for iPhone and iPad via Amazon’s Kindle app, and for the Nook Color and Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, is scheduled for November.  Stay tuned! Once the enhanced e-book is available via Kindle, we will make a video demonstration, the way we did for Freedom’s Teacher.  

Here is the marketing blurb that will be made available shortly.  It is a bit long at 352 words because we could not quite contain our enthusiasm after working on this fascinating project! Continue reading ‘“Blowout!” New Multimedia Book on the Way’

Oral Historians Must Hand Over Oral Histories

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: Boston College must release interviews with former IRA members conducted by oral historians who assured their subjects the interviews would be confidential. From the ruling: “The choice to investigate criminal activity belongs to the government and is not subject to veto by academic researchers.”

The decision has apparent implications for any oral historian promising confidentiality to their interviewee. That implication being, you can’t.

Producing the “Freedom’s Teacher” Enhanced E-Book

Many thanks to our publishing colleagues who sent positive comments and thoughtful questions in response to our announcement of the enhanced e-book version of Freedom’s Teacher:  The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron.  In this blog post, I’d like to review briefly some of the aspects of the enhanced e-book editorial and production process that were new to us.  (This overview is cross-posted on the Association of American University Presses Digital Digest blog.)

Author’s voice, multiplied.  At our invitation, the author provided extended captions for 19 of the enhancements, or 20% of the total.  The author’s voice now appears in the book in three layers: (1) in the audio, in the role of interviewer; (2) in the finished biographical narrative; (3) in the extended captions, which might be said to mediate between the first two.  She is slightly embarrassed when she hears her own voice in the audio; nevertheless, she is interested in the ways in which the enhanced e-book reveals the historian’s research process to readers, especially students of history.  One enhancement is a map, based on her notes from reviewing the 1910 census, on which she has marked the race of Clark’s neighbors in Charleston.  The map connects the raw census data with the finished narrative, in which the author states that Clark’s was a mixed-race neighborhood.  We toyed with a possible headline, “Historian at Work,” which we did not include but which might describe all of the enhancements.

Digitization.  Ideally the author’s materials would become a digital archive at a collaborating institution during production of the book.  However, in this demonstration project, the author had not yet decided where to donate her research materials, including 13 taped interviews.  Making do with the situation, we borrowed her stack of cassette tapes and digitized them in the media lab at UNC’s undergraduate library.  This took about 20 hours of staff time, spread over a couple of weeks, that we were able to justify under the umbrella of the Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project.

Publisher-archive partnership.  Septima Clark’s papers are housed at the Avery Center for African American Research and Culture at the College of Charleston.  Recognizing the potential of the enhanced e-book to bring  the Center’s collections to the attention of a wider audience, the archivists granted permission for use of the materials that the author had identified and, with the support of the college’s Lowcountry Digital Library, digitized them.  The Center’s archivists were enthusiastic partners and even rediscovered in their holdings an interview with Clark that the author had not previously heard.  The collaboration is formally acknowledged on the title page of the enhanced e-book, and links to the Center’s website are included in the captions.

Technology.  The technology that we used was fairly simple; new standards from Barnes & Noble and Amazon allowed us to avoid having to use or write special software.  Starting with an Epub file, we inserted outbound links in the form of DOIs and URLs.  We inserted new content in an appendix and created internal navigation via HTML links inserted by hand; the audio content was in MP3 form.

Audio excerpts.  Cutting the excerpts from the long interviews took only a few hours.  However, choosing and marking the excerpts to be cut took another several hours.  We did it the old-fashioned way, by reviewing transcripts together with the author, who bracketed chosen passages with a pencil.  Once all the MP3 audio files were included in the Epub file, some work had to be done to even out the sound volume.  The very best interview with Clark is, ironically, the one with the most ambient noise; perhaps more experienced sound engineers could have removed some of it.

Ellipsis.  In a couple of cases, the transcripts of interview excerpts included ellipsis points where the author had asked that we skip a digression in the conversation.   However, at first the digitally spliced-together audio did not indicate an ellipsis; this is a minor point, but it seemed to cross a line of scholarly integrity.  Playing around with “Garage Band,” a program that comes automatically loaded into a Mac laptop, we devised a swift clock-ticking sound to indicate the ellipsis.  We hope that people will know instinctively what it is when they hear it. Continue reading ‘Producing the “Freedom’s Teacher” Enhanced E-Book’

Announcing Freedom’s Teacher, the Enhanced E-book

The University of North Carolina Press today announced the publication of a special enhanced e-book version of Freedom’s Teacher:  The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron.  Produced in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, the enhanced e-book features nearly 100 primary-source items, including photographs, documents, letters, newspaper clippings, and 60 audio excerpts from oral-history interviews with 15 individuals–including Clark herself–each embedded in the narrative where it will be most meaningful.


YouTube demo of Freedom’s Teacher enhanced e-book

First published in 2009, this biography tells the story of civil rights activist Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987), who developed a citizenship education program that enabled tens of thousands of African Americans to register to vote and to link the power of the ballot to concrete strategies for individual and communal empowerment.

Clark, who began her own teaching career in 1916, grounded her approach in the philosophy and practice of southern black activist educators in the decades leading up to the 1950s and 1960s, and then trained a committed cadre of black women to lead this grassroots literacy revolution in community stores, beauty shops, and churches throughout the South. In this engaging biography, Katherine Charron tells the story of Clark, from her coming of age in the South Carolina lowcountry to her activism with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the movement’s heyday.

“Developing this enhanced e-book, we undertook a wondrous journey,” said Charron. Continue reading ‘Announcing Freedom’s Teacher, the Enhanced E-book’

Cecil Williams Meets the KKK

From the Southern Oral History Program’s Civil Rights History Project, a clip from an interview with Cecil Williams, who was a fourteen year-old novice journalist when he decided to get some shots of a Ku Klux Klan rally in Orangeburg, SC. Here’s what happened next.

Cecil Williams from Southern Oral History Program on Vimeo.

Voices for Civil Rights Part 3

Part 3 of the Southern Oral History Program’s series on WUNC, “Voices for Civil Rights,” aired this morning. Listen to it here.

Voices for Civil Rights

Check out the first installment of the Southern Oral History Program’s “Voices for Civil Rights” here. Good interviews make good radio!

A Spotlight on Jacquelyn Hall

UNC recently ran a feature on Jacquelyn Hall, former director of the Southern Oral History Program and recent inductee into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Check it out.

Oral History Seminar in Kenya

Check out this piece on the Southern Oral History Program’s work in Kenya this past summer. Carolina students traveled there with Interim Director Della Pollock to interview rural Kenyans who were forced to resettle to make way for mining projects. The article includes some great audio. Take a look.

“I Knew How to Talk Southern”

Margaret Herring was sent by SNCC into the lion’s den of Selma law enforcement because she could pass as a sympathetic white southerner. Watch:

“I Knew How to Talk Southern” from Southern Oral History Program on Vimeo.