What does all this take? And how does it all happen?
Curious minds want to know… the Project says it has gathered and preserved more than 450 stories. What does an individual Herstory entail? and what all is involved in creating one, from beginning to end?
Step by Step by Step: The Process
Once we have a name and contact information, we're off and running… or at least walking purposefully! The whole thing, beginning to end, may take a year or more to complete.
- When a woman has indicated a willingness to participate, a pre-interview packet is sent to her. The packet contains a welcome letter explaining the Project and its goals, and another document explaining the process we follow and introducing some of the OLOHP women who will be involved in gathering and preserving the story.
- The Project checks with available interviewers to see who might be available to do the interview. Geographic proximity is a large factor in matching interviewees and interviewers. Depending on how busy we are, we may not be able to arrange an interview right away, especially if it involves travel. We will do our best to get the interview arranged as soon as possible for all involved.
- When a match is made, interviewers reach out individually to introduce themselves and arrange a mutually agreed upon date, time and place for the interview.
- After the interviewer arrives and everyone settles in, she makes sure the Project has the interviewee's relevant contact information on record (date of birth, address, phone, email, etc.)
- Contract options are reviewed and presented.
- The interview takes place.
- If needed, a second date and time is arranged to continue the interview later.
- When possible, support documents that the interviewee is willing to share are scanned by our interviewer while she's there at the interview. (Some – but not all – of our interviewers travel with a lightweight portable flat-bed scanner and a laptop.)
- If support documents cannot be scanned on site, they are assembled and packaged to go with the interviewer. Occasionally, we have interviewees that scan their own support documents and send them to the Project directly.
- If the interviewer takes the support documents with her, they are either scanned by the interviewer later, or sent to the OLOHP to scan. Once scanned, they are safely returned.
- Audio files are downloaded from the recorders onto the interviewer's computer. We work with two recorders as a backup.
- Audio files are then transmitted to the OLOHP. Most often, we use Dropbox because it's quick and cost-effective.
- Audio files are received by the Project, checked quickly to make sure all is well, and they are added to the queue of interviews waiting to be transcribed.
- As soon as possible, the interview is matched with a transcriber who does her magic turning the audio into a text document, which is then returned to the Project.
- New transcripts are reviewed – the Project does not edit the transcript, but we do watch for typos, words that might have been misunderstood by the transcriptionist, and we do some formatting.
- When the review and formatting is completed, a copy of the transcript is sent to the interviewee for her review and edits. Often, spelling of names and locations need to be corrected, missed words or phrases filled in, and sometimes a story or two is added. When she's done, the edited transcript comes back to the Project.
- If the editing was done on a printed copy, the Project will then transfer the edits to the digital copy of the transcript.
- Support documents are reviewed and laid out for printing. Sometimes, in the review process, we may find there are problems that we might be able to resolve. For instance, if a photo is discolored, or damaged, we may be able to improve it. Our goal is not to make them look new, but to make the most of them. (Elsewhere on this page, we'll show you a couple examples of what we might be able to do to a photo.)
- When the Project has the edited transcript, support documents, contract, and title page in hand, printing is completed and the book is assembled. All the elements are comb bound to form a completed Herstory.
- A copy of the Herstory is packaged and mailed to the woman who has generously shared her story.
- Another copy is printed, but assembled in a file folder. That copy stays in the OLOHP collection. Periodically, groups of completed Herstories are sent to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where they will be archived in the Sophia Smith Collection. As soon as time allows, we also transmit digital copies of all of the elements to Smith College.
Note sent to the OLOHP: What you have done is so important that I think even you don’t understand it. This will have a life of its own and be around way after we are gone. To have thought this up, seen the need, and assumed the effort to get it done is phenomenal. I really do salute you.
TF says: The women that the OLOHP has brought to us have lived remarkable lives, often solitary and private, and we are far richer for knowing these women, their struggles and their passion.
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