History will never forget Emma Lazarus, Molly Picon, Bella Abzug, and other famous Jewish “women of valor” who blazed trails and changed the world, or at least a significant chunk of it. But what of the “ordinary” Jewish woman whose contributions resonate through a smaller universe— that of her family and local community? Aren’t her triumphs, struggles, memories, recipes, jokes, and words of wisdom worth preserving, too?
With a resounding “Yes!” the Jewish Women’s Archive pioneered the use of community-based oral history projects to uncover, chronicle, and transmit the richness and diversity of 20th century American Jewish women. JWA, which has completed two oral-history projects since its founding in 1995, now seeks to draw more people into the process with the publication of In Our Own Voices, a step-by-step guide to conducting life history interviews.
The manual includes technical details, interviewing tips, and guidelines to facilitate the recording and archiving of older Jewish women’s personal stories on video, audiotape, or digital media. This extremely user-friendly spiral-bound book also offers hundreds of interview questions to consider asking. Suggested categories of inquiry include family, education, work, Jewish identity, home, sexuality, and world events. Questions range from how the woman learned to cook to how the Holocaust affected her family.
A pre-interview questionnaire, sample releases, an interview log, and other forms are provided, as is transcription information and options for completed narratives. Quotes from JWA archives, along with narrators’ photographs, spice up the volume considerably.
The book is available by mail order. For information, call 617−383−6754, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.jwa.org/guide.