Interview reflections

To be honest, I have been so far uninvolved in much of the interview process.  Next week I will be doing the practice interview and tomorrow I will begin the personal interviews.  However, from observation I have gleaned a few important things.  Something that I noticed at the last interview we did with Barbara Carson was about how effective it can be to ask very broad, provocative questions that allow her to just keep talking.  Especially in the beginning of her interview, she just had so much momentum and the slightest prodding from our interviewers produced a wealth of information. This builds on something that I realized in some interviews that I have done prior to this: that sometimes one of the most important things you can do as an interviewer is just shut up and sit back and let the interviewee talk.  Conversely, this does create some challenges.  You get the unmitigated flow of perspective and information from the interviewee, but as we noticed on Tuesday, it can also make it hard to follow up on certain things if the interviewee herself just flies them by.  This is is an important balance that demands a high level of engagement on the part of the interviewer.  You must be able to keep up with her and quickly tailor your questions or guiding tools to manipulate the interview to your liking.


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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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