By: Kristie White, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2018, History, Southeast
My name is Kristie White, and I was chosen as an intern for the Indiana University Bicentennial Oral History Project. The point of the project is to celebrate the bicentennial of Indiana University by collecting research and oral histories from people who have been affiliated with the university over the years. On my campus of Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, I will be conducting oral history interviews alongside Professor Elizabeth Gritter.
When I began this journey in September, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. I knew little about oral histories, the town I lived in, or even the school that I was attending. That is what captured my attention on applying for this internship. I wanted to know more.
I enjoy learning and taking new opportunities as they are presented to me, and this seemed like a great opportunity to learn something new. Plus, the thought of padding my cv for graduate school applications did not seem like a bad idea either.
When I first sat down with Professor Gritter and we had a conversation about the internship work load I felt excited. However, my excitement was slightly overshadowed by nervousness mixed with a bit of determination.
Being a slight perfectionist, I was determined to do well at this. After all, Professor Gritter, who was sponsoring the internship here at IU Southeast, was a professional in the oral history field. She knew exactly what she was doing and all the prep work that went into it. She has been a great mentor thus far.
In that sense, the decision was made that we would be spend the month of September preparing for the interviews for this project and then we would jump in to the interviews in October.
A timeline of the history of IU was necessary for the interview process and for myself, as I did not know much about the history of events at the university before starting this process. Professor Gritter also gave me an extensive collection of oral histories to listen to. Listening to these oral histories eased my apprehension about doing interviews.
I have always been a talkative person and I have always been good with people. However, I prefer my conversations to flow organically. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to steer a conversation with someone the way that I wanted it to go.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t ask the questions correctly, or that the subject wouldn’t answer the way that I had wanted them to in my mind. After listening to the collection of oral histories that Professor Gritter provided, I realized that my insecurities were moot.
We are looking for stories. Stories from alumni, students, faculty and staff. Stories for people who are affiliated with the university. We want to hear what they have to say, whether it be everything or nothing at all.
Diversity is key in this project. We are attempting to get interviews with as many people as we can from all affiliations with IU Southeast.
In that regard, I am excited to begin the interview process and see where it leads me.
Read more about the campus wide oral history project here: