SIUE Madison Historical Researchers Visit Collinsville Middle School

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Kendyl Schmidt and Brendon FloydSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville research assistants from Madison Historical: The Online Encyclopedia and Digital Archive of Madison County, Illinois, visited Collinsville Middle School on Monday, Nov. 5 to introduce eighth graders to the skills of conducting oral history interviews.

In preparation for Collinsville Middle School’s Veterans Day activities, teacher Dana Larson’s class invited Madison Historical to give students tips in preparation for their scheduled interviews with veterans this week. After a short introduction, Madison Historical research assistants Brendon Floyd and Kendyl Schmidt performed a mock interview. Meanwhile, research assistant and doctoral student Shannan Mason often stopped the interaction and asked students to identify what interview elements could have been better. Madison Historical tech developer Ben Ostermeier gave instructions and advice on utilizing recording equipment.

The students learned the five golden rules of oral histories: 1) Know your equipment; 2) Know your environment; 3) Ask open-ended questions; 4) Keep interruptions to a minimum; and 5) Arrive properly prepared.

“This represents an important step in our goal of bringing Madison Historical into area schools,” said Jason Stacy, PhD, professor of historical studies in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences, and one of the project co-editors. “We’re excited about the opportunity to work further with middle school students in Madison County.” Stacy’s Madison Historical co-editors are Jeff Manuel, PhD, associate professor of historical studies, and Steve Hansen, PhD, retired professor of historical studies.

Madison Historical is the online digital archive and online encyclopedia of Madison County, Illinois. Currently Madison Historical features over 100 articles on Madison County and holds nearly 600 digitized artifacts and over 70 oral histories of the people of Madison County. Visit Madison Historical at madison-historical.siue.edu/encyclopedia.