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Students to document oral history of Irene

November 30, 2011
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Students from Burlington College will be in Keene this weekend to document stories from Tropical Storm Irene.

John Warren, editor of the online news magazine New York History, will bring students from his Oral

History and Audio Documentary class to the Keene Community Center, where they will conduct interviews with residents of Jay and Keene who were impacted by the Aug. 28 storm.

"Oral history is really about studying individuals and events, typically from people who participated in those events who might have different perspectives," Warren told the Enterprise. "This is an opportunity to do just that: To hear the stories from people who might not otherwise be heard."

Warren said his class deals with audio documentaries based on oral history field work. At its core, he said it's about "citizen storytelling." The goal, he added, is to contribute to a public discussion on important issues and events, like Irene.

"The goal is to learn how to critically listen to the people they study and provide an ethnographic approach that goes beyond traditional written stories," Warren explained.

Warren's students will use audio digital recording to document peoples' stories. He said the interviews will start with some basic questions about the individual's experience with Irene and then provide an opportunity to tell the stories they think are important.

The resulting recordings will go to the Adirondack Museum's collection for use by future historians, or for those interested in looking back on the historic storm.

Warren stressed that people who weren't directly impacted by the storm can still share their stories.

"They might say, 'My house wasn't destroyed,' or 'My business wasn't hurt,'" he said. "But they are still in the community. Everyone has a story to tell. That's important."

That means emergency personnel and volunteers are invited to participate in the project, Warren said.

According to Warren, the interviews will take an "ethnographic" approach, meaning they will be qualitative instead of quantitative.

"It's not so much about how many roads were destroyed or how high the water was," he said.

Those interested in being interviewed can schedule a time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, although Warren noted that walk-ins are welcome anytime.

To schedule an interview, call Warren at 518-956-3830 or email



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