Oral History Project

By Gabriela Santiago, July 2, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since Erik and I began working on the Oral History Project. We’ve already transcribed seven interviews and published them under the archives section of the D.O. website.  As Erik has explained, transcribing these interviews has not been as smooth of a process as it might first have seemed. Small technological issues or constant Google-ing of terminology and proper names keep the job interesting everyday.

Transcribing Elizabeth Boone‘s and Joanne’s Pillsbury‘s interviews proved particularly interesting, as they provided a very detailed description of the professional and social environment of the Pre-Columbian Studies program throughout its years at D.O. They also have nostalgic stories about working in the basement and living amongst the books in the main house before the library was built. In honor of the interviews I have transcribed in the past couple of weeks I’ve created this word cloud, which I think shows the themes that most interviewees enjoyed talking about during their interviews as well as being nice to look at.

Most of the work of the past week has involved researching and contacting potential interviewees, consisting mostly of former fellows and former administrators. Thanks to the Dumbarton Oaks archives we are able to find details about former fellows’ research and contributions while at D.O. The archives also allow us to get an understanding of the general environment and dynamics of the institution in the previous decades, which proves helpful when drafting interview questions.

In the next weeks, I am looking forward to interviewing Bill Isbell, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Binghamton University and a former Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies and Gillett Griffin, curator of Pre-Columbian Art at the Princeton Art Museum from 1967-2004 and member of the Advisory Board of Pre-Columbian Studies at D.O. from 1970-1979.

About me:

My name is Gabriela Santiago, and I’m a recent graduate of Harvard College in History  of Art and Architecture.