Intern focus: Oral histories focused on the UI’s cultural centers
About this organization
The University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections provides access to rare and unique books, manuscripts, and maps that span over 4000 years, and is home to remarkable archives including the University Archives, Iowa Women’s Archives, International Dada Archive, and the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry.
About this internship
This intern will work with the Community and Student Life Archivist to develop a new project to collect oral histories of students, alumni, faculty, and staff affiliated with either the Afro-American Cultural Center or the Latino Native American Cultural Center at the University of Iowa. The specific cultural center and community will be selected based on the interest and experience of the intern. The communities affiliated with each cultural center are underrepresented in the University Archives, necessitating an intentional effort to build new collections.
Oral history is an integral tool for collecting local history when relevant material collections may no longer exist or be dispersed among many individuals. Interviews also aid in strengthening relationships with community members, providing them autonomy over their recorded history. The selected intern will be trained in oral history methodology learning the art of how to ask good questions that invite narrators to share their stores. Utilizing relevant archival materials in the University Archives, the intern will be responsible for identifying potential narrators, making contact, and conducting interviews.
Intern’s work responsibilities
Responsibilities will include:
- Learning how to perform successful oral histories, including technical, ethical, and interpersonal issues
- Researching the history of the selected cultural center and identifying stories and people of interest
- Contacting interview subjects and collecting oral histories
Qualifications & skills preferred
- Interest in and personal background related to the campus history of one of the two aforementioned groups
- Ability to be sensitive and discrete with vulnerable populations
- Ease in talking with individuals whose life experiences may be radically different from one’s own
- Strong listening skills
Reporting, hours, & location
This internship reports to Aiden Bettine, Community Archive Librarian, and is sited in the UI’s Main Library. With the exception of meeting the needs of interview subjects’ schedules, all work can be done during regular business hours.