Dr. Kristi Bell, Department of English
I received a MEG award that was disbursed Fall Semester 2009. It was a three semester program running through Fall Semester 2010. Because of leftover funds I have been able to do additional work through Summer 2011.
Summary of Project
By the Sweat of Their Brow was an oral history project looking at changing agrarian culture in Utah Valley. I hired four student interns for three semesters. They were Curtis Allred, Christopher Baxter, Julie Laird and Michael O’Neal. The first semester was devoted to training. Each student was given a text and during weekly discussion groups, we went through the texts. I instructed them on how to do an oral history and had them accompany me on two interviews. They were able to participate in the interviews as well. I taught them how to write fieldnotes and compile audio and photo logs. They also received photography instruction. During this semester they attended farmer’s markets to acquaint themselves with the farming culture and make contacts for future interviews. They also conducted an interview on their own.
During Winter Semester 2010, they conducted their interviews in pairs with each student conducting at least one interview per week. They chose a topic to focus on during their interviews in preparation for the activities they had where they gave back to the community.
In Fall Semester they focused on three activities where they gave back to the academic and agrarian communities as well as continued interviewing. Their first project was presenting a short paper and participating on a discussion panel at the American Folklore Society meetings held in Nashville, TN in October. Each student wrote a 10 minute conference paper on the topic they had studied over the course of their internship. After the papers, there was a fifty minute question and answer period. The students were articulate and well-prepared. I received good comments about their professionalism from academic folklorists present. The students also enjoyed their experience at a professional conference.
The second activity was the creation of a small exhibit in Perry Special Collections. Each student was given a panel that was 7’x4’ to cover with photos and text. They worked with the library’s exhibition manager on layout and things were professionally printed and applied to the board. Some students were able to use actual items related to their research as part of their display.
During the month the exhibit was up, we held an open house for the people who had been interviewed for the project. The students gave a modified version of the presentation they had prepared for AFS and then community members were able to ask questions and talk to each other while refreshments were served. Everyone was able to view the exhibition and it was a successful evening.
The materials that the students created through their interviews became an important Utah County collection now housed in the Wilson Folklore Archives in Perry Special Collections. The skills that the interns learned will be helpful as they pursue graduate coursework in the future.
I received $19,000 for the MEG award. $14,005.60 went towards student wages. I spent $1763.36 on supplies for student texts and creating a research library for this and other projects. $2887.15 was spent on the students’ travel to Nashville. The remaining $343.89 will be used on other projects that I am overseeing. The surplus is due to the fact that travel to Tennessee was considerably less than what I had anticipated.