Preparing for my interview is causing me more stress then I had anticipated. The woman I am interviewing seems very nice and very willing to talk about her life, which has put me more at ease.
My main concerns are technical things, like what if I don’t use the equipment correctly? I know that if I’m careful and focused this won’t actually be an issue. I am also concerned about my questions- will I have enough? Too many? What if I ask something that upsets her on accident? Or, what if, after the interview, I realize I haven’t asked what I wanted to? I think all of these concerns are normal pre-interview concerns. I’m very prone to thinking about the worst-case scenario before I do something significant. As long as I dedicate enough of my time and energy into making sure I cover each area I’m worried about before the interview, I should have little to no issue when the day comes to conduct this interview.
My hopes are that I am able to let this nice woman say what is on her mind. When I first met her, she told me she had been the subject in an oral history interview once before a few years ago. She said the interviewer seemed to know what kinds of things she wanted to get out of her subject. That is something I want to stay away from. I want to ask questions about things I want to learn more about, of course, but above all, I want to know what was important to HER. The woman I am interviewing also said she thinks her views have changed on some topics since her last interview, and she would be interested to see if that shows in the interview she will have with me. The Egham Museum has a transcript of the last interview she did and I was thinking of taking a look at it so I know maybe what kinds of questions to stay away from, or some topics I would like to hear more about.
Overall, I just hope to gain some insight on the inner-workings of the Holloway Sanatorium. The woman I am interviewing worked there at a pivotal time, just as it became public. She will have worked with people who worked there for many years before, and can perhaps give insight to what she heard the Sanatorium was like as a private institution. I want to learn what it was like being a woman in the workplace in the 1950s. I want to hear what working with the patients was like and how it made her feel. I want her to come away feeling like she was able to speak freely and has made a contribution to history.
Having previously studied many wars, including the soldiers experience fighting in war and society during the war, I would like to explore a side of war not often spoken of. I would like to learn more about the medical treatment English soldiers received post-war for mental illnesses, such as PTSD. Ideally I would love to find out about soldiers post World War Two, but because that does not seem realistic, I would be interested to learn about mental illness in soldiers after any war. To do this, I would like to speak with a current or retired mental health professional. I think speaking with a mental health professional will give me insight into what it is or was like to treat patients, former soldiers, on a personal level that cannot be found in text. The beauty of oral history is that the stories you hear from the people being interviewed not only give you their account of an event, but also the way the event made them feel. I think it is important not only to find out what type of medical treatment these former soldiers were given, but also how difficult it might have been for the mental health professional to administer these treatments, or just to see these war heroes suffer.