Saturday, November 25, 2006

Soldier interview: it is history and you are a historian in the Viet vet project

Old and young, black and white
Originally uploaded by tinabelle.

Hello Mr. T.

Hope you are having a great break. Can you tell me what I need to do for the interview? I think I should summarize what the veteran said for each question and my mom won't let me. She is making me quote him for the whole thing.

This guy talked for about 2 hours or more. This project would take more than 5 hours to do my mom's way. She said I can take out the portions where he got long winded but she wants me to include all of the other stuff.

I want to summarize any interesting stories he told but not quote him. Which do you want me to do?

Thanks for the help. Hope you can save me some time!


Thanks for asking! That's the mark of an intelligent writer.

My guideline is Treat your interview like History. It is. It's a primary source. The value in it is the interviewee's actual words.

There's nothing academically wrong with summarizing as long as you have first transcribed verbatim. The guideline on our web site says to write out the Q & A, which means the actual words. I agree that some of his longwindedness might be omitted.

Who knows when you'll go back to this material - perhaps years from now - on some project. You'll be happy to see the actual transcript.