Transcribing Oral Interviews from the Douglass Alumnae Oral History Project

It might be funny that I am making my first post about creating written documents when I’ve stated that I am working on a oral project. Yes, this is the Douglas Alumnae Oral History Project and yes, the primary documents that are to be highlighted in my work will be the multimedia interviews themselves; however, transcription, or the act of transferring audio information into its written form, is required.

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Fall 2015 Intern for the Douglass Alumnae Oral History Project

My name is Karen Loder and I am pleased to introduce myself as one of two new interns beginning this fall semester at the Douglass Library!

Not very good at smiling in pictures but at least I’m patriotic!

As two graduate students working towards our Master of Library and Information Science degree here in the SC&I building on College Ave, my partner Ally and I are working under the supervision of Kayo Denda, who has already proven to be a wonderful help and motivator, to provide access to valuable Douglass College records that perhaps you didn’t know existed and that you’ll hopefully find useful and easily by the end of this semester. This is my last semester at Rutgers before I receive my MLIS and I am very glad that I found an internship that suits my personal interests and encourages the development of my professional experiences!

My main project for this semester is to create an accessible and appealing web portal for the Douglass Alumnae Oral History Project, an audio project comprised of rich exchanges between past graduates of the New Jersey College for Women and Douglass Alumnae. Memories of college life, social and academic, and the inextricable larger political landscape of Rutgers, New Jersey, and the United States are shared by participating alumnae for the strengthening of Douglass College’s history through the students that lived through, shaped, and prospered from it. One of the most fascinating characteristics of this project to me is the perspective of the college that these interviews illuminate. Often we are able to trace the policies and attitudes of deans and professors who acted as figureheads of the institution, but little are we aware of how these actions influenced those who were the subjects of them. While I am personally interested in seeing what I could learn from these women, as an aspiring librarian, I am essentially devoted to seeing what the public can learn from these recorded interviews.

Maybe this perspective interests me so much because it is the one from which I have primarily experienced the world. I graduated from Fordham University with a degree in English and a minor in Creative Writing in 2014 so I love to read and write, though I’ve been finding myself a much more avid reader than writer recently. Much of my life has been spent in a book like how much of my life has been spent as student which, though I’m trying to change that now, is not something I would change about myself since I think I’ve collected quite a bit of material with which I act with tact and fact. To intake people’s thoughts–what they consider important, right, or reality–through their verbal instruction or from a written (or digital) record may never provide the most objective account, but will always reveal some piece of the truth that can illuminate the whole. I may truly have found the best project for me as a supporter for this oral history project since I am a great listener!

Throughout this semester I am going to keep you updating on my progress and the process of creating a web portal that should ultimately provide you with not only access to these oral histories but also with a site that contextualizes this project within the larger history of Douglass College and thus pronounces its importance. I will also try to provide some information regarding how to do what I’m doing in case you have a valuable oral history collection yourself that you want to make accessible and visible on the web. Stay tuned!

Margery Somers Foster Center- Fall 2015 Internship

My name is Alexandra Steiger and I will be participating in an internship at the Margery Somers Foster Center this fall! I am currently working on my Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.  I also received my Bachelor’s Degree in English from Rutgers.

Allie Steiger

My interest was certainly peaked when I heard about the project that was being conducted here at the Margery Somers Foster Center.

They have been conducting a project that will capture, restore, and preserve oral histories from women who graduated from the New Jersey College for Women.


The New Jersey College for Women became known as Douglass College in 1955 after Mabel Smith Douglass, the college’s founder.

In keeping with Rutgers’ mission of diversity, these women who were interviewed are from many different backgrounds and each have a unique perspective on life at the New Jersey College for Women.

I will be specifically looking into scrapbooks from students and graduates in order to provide visual representations of life at Rutgers. The team has found that Dean’s papers as well as yearbooks do not go far enough in creating a rich understanding of what life was like at the New Jersey College for Women.

Personally, I have made many scrapbooks of my family and friends in the past. Scrapbooking has become more commercial in recent years as stores like Michael’s and A.C. Moore have entire sections devoted to tools for scrapbooking. I understand the care it takes to insert and position memorabilia into a book that will hopefully be preserved for many years. Creating scrapbooks, as well as viewing them, produces a very strong emotional and nostalgic reaction for me. Throughout this internship, I would like to the see how the history of scrapbooking has shaped its current popularity.

Kayo Denda, head of the Margery Somers Foster Center, has already obtained one scrapbook from a woman named Florence Marshall who later became Florence Nash. Florence graduated from the New Jersey College for Women in 1929.

Florence Marshall Scrapbook Cover
New Jersey College for Women class of 1929 graduate, Florence Marhsall’s Scrapbook Cover

I will strive to find other depictions of life in that time period. I will be unearthing scrapbooks throughout my internship and I will share my findings as I move through the semester.