By: Andrew Hakes, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2017, History, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne
Thus far, my work on the Indiana University Bicentennial History Project is going well, though there have been some roadblocks. I feel as though this project has given me a better opportunity to use the skills I have learned as a history major, which is beneficial because it is rare to be able to apply what I have learned outside the classroom to real life. In the beginnings of my work on the project I was confused on what the goals of my internship were, which caused some issues.
To remedy this, I began researching on how to conduct oral history interviews and find people to interview, which was extremely beneficial. In fact, it was so beneficial I feel that most things discussed in the oral history meeting I had the other day were review. I also did things such as looking up the history of my campus at IPFW and important events. (A good book to read over the matter of oral history is: Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing by Svend Brinkman and Steinar Kvale)
More recently, I have been working with Gail Hickey on locating potential interviewees, which has consisted of her talking to the library about gathering lists of graduates with IU degrees and me scouring the IPFW bulletin and IU alumni database. While extremely time consuming, it is interesting to see the different degrees that were available in the 1960s versus now. I have also contacted numerous other people on the IPFW campus that work with archives or who have direct access to records to see if they can be of some assistance.
At this moment, I think that the rest of my semester on this project will consist of searching the IU alumni database for graduates to interview, contacting people I have on my lists currently, creating summaries for future interns, and actually doing interviews. I think the methodology I have used has been a work in progress, but I think as time progresses I am becoming more efficient with my time.
Reflecting on this project, it is also becoming more transparent to me the impact IPFW, especially the IU side of it, has had on people and my community, which makes me wonder how this project could be used to influence the administrators on my campus attempting to pass USAP (University Strategic Alignment Process).
Some roadblocks I have encountered include technical errors (followed by having to get these errors fixed), an initial lack of clarity over what the project exactly entailed, and narrowing down who to interview. To summarize, I have created summaries for future interns to read that detail the basics of oral history, created files detailing potential interviewees, and searched for people to interview.
To reflect on this, I think there are some areas I can improve upon, but also think that the monthly intern meetings are helpful, as other interns ask questions I have or in detailing what they have done simply answer questions that I have.
To read part two of this blog, please visit: https://blogs.iu.edu/bicentennialblogs/2017/05/15/ipfw-oral-history-project-part-2/