What we have been doing

With the days cooler – and shorter – and work happening at home rather than on campus,  we are doing quite a lot of zooming. But we are also attending to the all-important back end of things, tightening up policies, and making sure everything is saved and ready to go into the UMass archives. We set up workflow in one place, and we had to adapt it for the new work space.  And here we are, fortunate to do this work.

We would love to know what you are doing. Give a call or email: jmonachina@berkshirecc.edu

Here is some of what we’ve been up to:

Four Town Oral History Inventory

Speaking of workflow and archives, the Four Town Oral History Inventory Project is now complete, with a final report sitting here ready to be analyzed. Myra Plescia and Marel Rodgers, both retired librarians and volunteers at Sharon Historical Society, worked for several days in the archives of Sharon, Salisbury, and Kent, CT, and Sheffield, MA, to learn exactly what those historical societies had in the way of oral history.   Cassette tapes, DVDs,  CDs, reel to reel tapes, and digital files that were hiding in plain site are now accounted for. It is a huge step forward.  Now the organizations know what they have, in what format, and how much.  The next step will be to determine how to make everything as safe and accessible as possible.

Along the same lines:  Mass SCHRAB
Last winter, shortly before COVID 19 appeared here, I worked with the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board’s Roving Archivist Sarah-Jane Poindexter to examine our policies and procedures. She sat down with me and went over our mission statement, collections procedures, releases/deeds of gift, actual files, and various other parts of our workflow.  She wrote up a report, which we are now using to as we tighten up policies, and create them where none exist.  Sarah-Jane is an archivist and also an experienced oral historian, and so her advice is especially valuable to a center like ours.  We have rewritten our Mission Statement, which lives on the landing page of this site, and are working on our Collections Policy.  We will work through the pages of her report and fine tune our processes.

Advising small oral history projects and teachers
Several organizations and teachers have asked for advice as they consider their own oral history projects.  This kind of work keeps us out in the world, even if it is virtual.  We love it.

NAACP OHP at the Berkshire Museum.  If you have not seen the new NAACP OHP virtual exhibit at the Berkshire Museum, please take a look. https://explore.berkshiremuseum.org/their-stories-oral-histories-from-the-naacp

The Mass Memories Road Show of UMass Boston will come out to do a story gathering day on the theme of paper making in the Fall of 2021.  We are currently working with the Planning Team, which is a group of volunteers who will do the advance planning and troubleshooting for the event.  We will keep you posted.

Paul O’Brien and I ran a DIY Oral History Workshop in early Fall.  We hope the DIY page we developed might be useful as people consider this time at home as a moment to listen to (and record) each other’s stories. Call if you need ideas or help.

Please see our Podcasts and other Inspirations page if you have not heard some of our podcasts, too.  We will work on some more of these podcasts this winter.

I have been taking workshops too, at the Oral History Association’s annual meeting, and at the Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts Program.  We like to keep on eye on the projects around the country and the world.

Please tell us if you find something inspiring.

if there is workshop you would like to take, or a resource you need.  That is exactly why we are here!

Be well,

Judith Monachina, Director


Written by Judith