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Marymount Manhattan College Students Help Make Oral Histories Searchable


The NYPL Community Oral History project has some exciting new tools to help make our growing collection more searchable! We recently received a Knight Foundation Prototype Grant in collaboration with The Moth  to process our audio stories using Pop Up Archive's software and to engage people from around the city and the world to correct these automated transcripts.

Read a guest blog post below from Sue Behrens and Ann Jablon, Marymount Manhattan College professors, about their students' experience tagging and transcript correcting.

Marymount Manhattan College Students Correct Transcripts from our Community Oral History Project

Two Marymount Manhattan College classes contributed to New York City history this past term. Ann Jablon and Sue Behrens, both professors of Communication Sciences and Disorders, taught a NYC-themed course called “New Yawk Tawk.” Part of the field trips involved students helping out with the Oral History Project at the New York Public Library. Project Manager Alexandra Kelly met with Ann and Sue over the summer to plan ways for the first year students at MMC to hear native New York City voices and take part in documentation of the stories.

Ann’s section met Alexandra at the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village.  Seventeen MMC students and one guest, an oral historian from the Queens Public Library, listened to recorded interviews about life in Greenwich Village.  Each student was asked to annotate a specific interview of a person who has had “a longtime relationship with Greenwich Village.”  The students identified key terms that will serve to guide researchers to significant people, places, events, and things discussed by these denizens of the Village.  After annotating the interviews, students were treated to a tour of this beautiful New York City landmark.

Marymount Manhattan College Students
at Jefferson Market Library

Inspired by the importance of oral history as a method of "preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people," Ann’s students were asked to find an upper-level student at MMC and collect an oral history recounting his or her first year experience.  Students presented their findings, "MMC—The Real Deal," to the class and created a Face Book page to archive the interviews.  While the student interviewees described their unique experiences at MMC, each invariably praised the diversity of the College and the spirit of acceptance that exists at MMC, which enhanced their learning experiences.  Student interviewers reported developing friendships with their interviewees that have served them well as they make their own transitions to college.

Marymount College Students use our transcript tool
at the Schwarzman Building

Sue’s section met Alex and the NYPL Labs and Moth teams at the main branch (where the lions are) on December 1. The fifteen students present were some of the first to work with software that opens up automated transcripts for correction. Their input was noted down by researchers from NYPL Labs and The Moth and will go into the next iteration of the program. Next, they all were given their own link to a resident of Harlem being interviewed about the neighborhood and way of life in this slice of NYC. Students again were in control of an editing program, this time identifying key terms that will make the audio file searchable. 



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