Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sunday Interviews

Hello everyone,

Sunday was a great day and the women of wisdom were wonderful. Their thoughts and stories were uplifting and empowering as we learned from them and they admitting that they learned from us. Both women were from South Atlanta. Mrs. Simms and Ms. Simon were impeccable and had different stories, yet similar backgrounds.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Young Scholars:

You have met with your mentors and, for each of you, the experience was rewarding! I knew this would be the case because all of the women elders are interesting women with compelling stories, and they WANT to share their stories with you. You now realize that your fears about the first interview were unwarranted. The women "take charge."

Courtney is scheduled for her third interview and actually thinks that she might want to conduct more than the required number? Her journal notes are impressive! Did you notice that she turned to specific pages in her journal when she was sharing in Thursday's seminar.
I single Courtney out for comment mainly because, if you will recall, Courtney was vocally and visibly anxious about the first interview. She is now comfortable with the relationship and anxious to go beyond the required number of interviews.

Ann, Cornelia, Jana, Rachel, and Tusday also had very positive experiences with their mentors and, like Courtney, they have become enthusiastic interviewers.

Remember how nervous Rakiyah was in Thursday's seminar? You MUST hear her story about her first interview. It was wonderful!!! In fact, the experience was so special that Rakiyah forgot I needed to pick her up at 3:15 in order to have time to return her to Spelman to take Sharon to her first interview.

What about Sharon's experience? Again, the story is one of immediate bonding. "One hour is not enough time," Sharon's mentor said to me when I returned at the set departure time.
Did we not say early in the semester that the women want to share their stories?

Megan will find that to be the case when she goes for her first interview today at 2:30 and Alessandra, when her mentor comes to her at 4:00.

Only Myiedra and Shanelle have not conducted interviews, but they are scheduled to do so this coming week.

All's well in SIS because you are in SIS and because remarkable Women of Wisdom have agreed to tell you their stories.

I value you.

Gloria Gayles

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Their Memories, Our Treasure represents more than 144 hours of interviews Young Scholars conducted with African American Women of Wisdom who mentored them in the SIS Oral History Project. This number does not include the countless hours Scholars devoted to seminars, community lectures, research, travel, conferences, writing, transcribing, editing and proofreading.

During the research period, each Young Scholar conducted at least four one-hour interviews with her Mentor. In several instances, Scholar and Woman of Wisdom bonded so well that the number of interviews was increased to five and the length to two hours—in two instances, to three.

This volume is different from most anthologies of oral narratives in that (a) the narratives were collected by undergraduate students after a brief period of training rather than from established scholars with years of experience in oral history and (b) that the interviewees, unlike in most oral history projects, are not a homogeneous group. The group includes domestics, teachers, secretaries, an entrepreneur, a minister, a librarian, and an artist.These differences reflect the dual goal of SIS: (1) to collect life stories of African American Women of Wisdom that would provide Young Scholars with an intergenerational education and (2) to honor women who came before us and on whose shoulders all of stand.

I am certain that there are many, many stories regarding Hurricane Katrina that we must give voice to as well. Feel free to share yours here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why SIS? Why Now?

With the release of our first volume of stories, "Their Memories, Our Treasures," people around the country are beginning to ask, "What is SIS?"

It's simple yet quite intriguing.

Spelman College's Independent Scholars (SIS) Program is a two-semester independent, interdisciplinary and intergenerational learning experience open to students across all majors. In SIS, we enhance our critical writing and critical thinking skills. In weekly seminars we share our research, sharpen our skills and grow in knowledge about oral history.

In addition to learning sessions with the SIS faculty mentor, we are privileged to lectures by guest scholars including a gerontologist, two oral historians, a museum curator, an archivist and a physician-researcher in traditional knowledge. The first semester in SIS focuses on research and interviewing. The second semester focuses on transcribing and editing.

The concept paper included in our SIS Research Notebook gives a rationale for the learning experience:

Throughout our history in this nation -- indeed before we were brought to these shores -- older women in our families and in our communities are griots and sages, seers and prophets whom we are taught to honor and revere. Their stories teach us about values and beliefs that shaped their reality and, in immeasurable ways, impact our own. For reason, then, we see their memories, anchored deep in the soil of wisdom, as cherished treasure. It is this truth, as old as time itself, that undergirds the SIS Oral History Project.

Please share your thoughts about this project or oral history work thay you're conducting.