My interview with Chris is quickly approaching and I am starting to feel slightly nervous and excited about conducting it.
I am intending on listening to her life story and to cover these themes:
*Childhood- early memories, parents, siblings, schooling etc
*Adolescence- first job, leisure activities etc
*Her employment during the Second World War and subsequent career especially her work abroad
*Relationships- courtship, marriage, friendships, issues and resolutions
*Family life- her role as a mother/wife
*Social status- role in the community, her value of appearing respectable
*Absences in her life- loss through death/maturing of children/old age
I am certain many more themes will emerge as the interview occurs which I find is an exciting prospect. I am currently reading about women’s generalised experience in twentieth century Britain and more specifically on relationships, careers and war experiences in oral history interviews as well as other forms of research.
My main concerns about conducting the interview are that during the interview I might miss important potential lines of enquiry which might aid me to further understand Chris’ experience. I want to allow her to control the subject matter of the interview as long as it is not simply anecdotal to determine what experiences during her life she places high significance on. I will need to concentrate not only on what she says but on her tone and her silences to determine if there is more to be gained through careful probing around a particular topic. I do not want to make her feel uncomfortable by probing excessively but at the same time I would like to understand more about her emotions and decision making during her lifetime, especially around her career, family life and relationships and her experiences during the war.
I am looking forward to talking to her and hope that she feels the same way!
I have decided to interview an older female member of the community to gain insight into daily life and their relationships during their lifetime. In previous years, I have focused on women’s social history across the twentieth century, especially relationships, courtship and marriage in the mid century. I am keen to continue researching this theme first through completing a life history interview and potentially going into more depth with a second interview if there is a theme which seems particular unusual or unique. At the moment, I am in contact with the Women’s Institute in order to ask if there are any volunteers willing to be interviewed. I am also considering asking at a local church in which many of the congregation are elderly and are happy to talk openly to anyone. If these institutions appear to be of great importance to the narrator for a large proportion of their life, I will adjust my focus to seek insight into their experiences. Graham has already suggested much reading to help me to formulate my own questions and potential topics I could explore. This topic may not be new or groundbreaking but I feel it is important to continue to ask about life histories from older women in order to gain further insight from a group who have previously been hidden from history because of their sex and seemingly ordinary experience of life before it is too late.