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February 8, 2014 / Charlie McNabb

Milwaukee Transgender Oral History Project

I’m crossposting from my readers’ advisory blog, Beyond Hanky Code, because this resource is really wonderful and I wanted to share it with fellow archives nerds.

The Milwaukee Transgender Oral History Project is a digital collection of oral history interviews with eight individuals involved with the Milwaukee transgender community.  Dr. Brice Smith, a transgender activist and scholar, is known for his research and subsequent book on Lou Sullivan.  With the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Archives, Dr. Smith administered the Milwaukee Transgender Oral History Project in order to supplement and enrich the Milwaukee LGBT History Project.  Dr. Smith is clearly active in and passionate about the transgender community, and his careful and comprehensive research is evident in this project.

Dr. Brice Smith conducted interviews from January to May 2011, and the informants represent a broad range of history and experiences with the Milwaukee transgender community.  Informants include Jay Botsford, Josie Carter and Jaime (also spelled “Jamie”) Gays, Loree Cook-Daniels, Gretchen Fincke, Meredith Leischer, Jolie McKenna, and michael munson (who does not capitalize his name).  In the interviews, these individuals discuss gender and sexual identity (or lack thereof), transitioning, transgender healthcare, their experiences with the Milwaukee LGBT community, and other aspects of their personal histories.

The website includes audio recordings of each interview, transcripts, information about informants and the interview specifics, and a detailed finding aid.  The audio is clear and the interviews are comprehensive and (in my opinion) quite interesting.  Associated metadata is thorough and very helpful to understanding the project and particulars about each informant.  As a social researcher, I was especially impressed with the transcripts.  Transcription is a lot of work and I don’t know anybody who enjoys it.  That researchers can simply download a pdf of the interview is marvelously helpful.

I did a brief screencast to demonstrate how to locate this resource and how to access the interviews.  Please click on the link below to watch the Jing screencast, and scroll down to read the transcript.  Note: you’ll want to scroll down and click on the expand symbol on the bottom right so the screencast fills your screen and you can see everything.  To exit full screen mode, press your escape button.

http://www.screencast.com/t/LfMhPT6Fe

Transcript: Hi there, this is Caroline McNabb, and I just wanted to share briefly about the Milwaukee Transgender Oral History Project.  This is a terrific primary source resource administered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.  Dr. Brice Smith interviewed eight individuals in the trans* community in 2011 and the audio recordings and transcripts are all accessible online.  Here’s how to locate it, starting from the University homepage.  You can see a yellow navigation bar at the top.  Just underneath that, in the middle, there’s a link to the libraries.  If you click on that, you’ll get to this page.  Now if you look in the middle section and just below, you’ll see a link for Digital Collections.  Now if you click on that, you’ll get to this page.  You’ll want to scroll down to the area that says Collections of the Archives, and right here you can find the Milwaukee Transgender Oral History Project.  Now when you click on that you’re finally there.  And you can see that there’s several interviews here.  The titles are in this area, there’s some information here, and so forth.  Let’s scroll all the way to the bottom, and if you click on the title, you’ll get to the page for that individual interview.  You can see there’s this large box in the middle, and that’s the audio.  If you click on that, it’ll just start playing.  If you scroll down there is a lot of information about the person, the date, what collection it’s from, the location, subjects, and so forth.  Now if you decide that you want to use some text from the audio for a project or whatever you might be using it for, there’s great news because the folks who did the project did transcribe each interview.  You can find the transcripts in two places.  Either by clicking over here where it says “next” or if you go to this area where there’s thumbnails, if you click “content” and then right here where it says “transcript” you can click that.  And you can see there’s a nice pdf, it’s all typed up, very convenient, you can go ahead and download that.  Another thing I wanted to show you if you scroll down on the description area, there’s a link at the bottom for the finding aid.  This is a really important part of any archival resource because this is all of the metadata that will be very helpful to gaining an appreciation for what the collection is.  Here’s the summary part, it has the title, the date, the creator and so forth.  There’s a little abstract there.  And then over here on the left there’s more portions of the finding aid.  There’s a little biography/history note, there’s a scope and content note.  Now here’s the preferred citation, which is very important if you do decide to use something from it.  And as you see here, you’re going to actually have to click another link, which gets you to this page.  That has a lot of information about how exactly you can cite that.  Moving down there’s related materials, notes about restriction, and finally a contents list, which has comprehensive information about each interview.  So I hope you have a lot of fun with these primary sources, and thank you very much for watching!

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