Date of Degree
Digital Humanities | Oral History | Public History
digital humanities, oral history, archives, Bedford-Stuyvesant, indexing, Brooklyn
The Neighborhood Stories Indexing Project is part of the Neighborhood Stories project, an oral history initiative by the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS). My capstone is an attempt to solve the problem of information overload and that of access with an online application that allows DORIS to publicly share their oral history interviews and to make them easily searchable. The purpose of the indexing project is to increase the use of and improve access to the collections, without sacrificing the nuance and complexity of lived experiences in NYC. By allowing users to navigate the interviews as audio segments, my Indexing Project brings a human dimension back to the process of historical research by giving future listeners the agency to explore the oral history interviews according to their own interests instead of as a curated experience.
Inspired by the potential of oral history to create community engagement, I used OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) to index the Interview with Ina Johnson (2018), a 97-year-old resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a Brooklyn neighborhood that is undergoing an aggressive process of gentrification. My work was informed by the feminist concept of situated knowledge: indexing provides context and connections to the audio recording of the oral history interview. Finally, I applied the lens of intersectional feminism to the creation of subject headings and keywords that resist the rigidity of the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Once all the interviews are indexed, visitors will be able to navigate the audio recordings according to their interests, search for specific words, and explore New York's history through the words of its residents. The Indexing Project provides a framework to index the rest of the Neighborhood Stories interviews and will serve as an example for other researchers who want to make local oral histories publicly accessible and searchable.
Ina Johnson’s indexed interview is available at:
Abou Mrad, Elena, "The Neighborhood Stories Indexing Project" (2022). CUNY Academic Works.