3. Introduction to research workshops

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Workshops introducing research are proposed to familiarize young people with research strategies, oral history and archival management.

3a. Apprentice researcher: Research workshop on the bibliographic resources presented in the booklet.

 Outline of activity: With youth, choose a theme presented in the booklet – one that they want to learn more about. Invite them to search for some of the resources in the bibliographical sections “Relevant readings”. These searches can be done in a virtual database (such as that of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) or in the local library. From the bibliography of these sources, young people can continue their research by finding new books. Thus, from one bibliography to another, they can deepen their knowledge on the chosen topic while learning about certain principles of research. They can present what they find progressively, as if they were investigating the topic.

 Discussion: There are different resources for research: books, public and private archives, interviews, etc. The research that was done for the booklet drew on several types of resources: books, articles, newspapers, and newsletters. This workshop will allow young people to seek additional information related to a topic that interests them while becoming familiar with research processes by using the bibliographic sections of the booklet chapters to find other resources. Discussions can therefore focus on what participants are finding, the steps of their research and the difficulties encountered.

3b. Public Heritage: Research workshop in public records databases.

Outline of activity: Municipal, provincial and national archives hold public records that are available to all. They include old documents, photographs and old newspapers, among other resources. Databases of several of these archives are available online. Photo collections are increasingly digitized for wider accessibility. Participants can write a list of keywords related to the book and the timeline to search these databases. They can print or take notes of what they find and then share their findings with the group. For example, a search for the keyword ‘Jamaica’ in the search engine of Library and Archives Canada’s database has resulted in several photographs, including one of the hostesses of Jamaica Pavilion at Expo 67. Archives de Montréal also offers a great collection of old photos that can be consulted onsite; they include several portraits of Caribbean personalities who visited Montreal during the 20th century.

Library and Archives Canada: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/recherche/arch

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec: http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/

Archives of the City of Montreal: http://archivesdemontreal.com

Discussion: After completing their research, participants can present their findings and their research methods. With the growing access to virtual databases, it will be interesting to know whether young people use these resources, how, and in what context. The goal is to make them aware of the way they look for information that interests them.

Suggested questions: Is this the first time you have used these resources? From this experience would you know how to search for information you are interested in? Can you find other databases?

3c. Tell me your story: intergenerational oral history workshop.

Outline of activity: The oral history interview invites the respondent to tell the story of his/her life. It is not quite a structured interview but rather a dialogue, following the rhythm of the interviewee. He or she is invited to share his/her memories and recount life stories he/she wants to tell. Young people must find an adult that is significant to them, with whom they conduct an oral history interview. With the consent of that person, they can record the interview. A copy of the full interview should be given to the respondent, and consent to the use of excerpts from his/her interview for a side project should be obtained. Subsequently, youth can work with the interviewee, from the audio recording or the transcript of the interview, in order to highlight important passages. These excerpts can be used to start an artistic work or a research project in collaboration between the youth and the interview participants. The project can therefore become a real exchange between different participants, youth and seniors.

Discussion: The intergenerational interview allows youth to better understand their family trajectory and community history. The interview allows young people to come into contact with seniors and learn about a historical period they may not know. Discussions may therefore be, for example, on the importance of memory; on what has marked them; on the way history is passed on – or not – from one generation to the other; and on the knowledge acquired by participants through these interviews.

3d. Preserving our memories: photo analysis and conservation workshop.

Outline of activity: Ask students to find old pictures of community activities or family pictures. If they do not have access to old photos, they can photograph a significant place or someone important to them and use these photos for the workshop. With them, prepare a description sheet where they record critical information to document their photos (date and location when the picture was taken; photographer’s name; name of the person/organization that owns the photo; size; colour / black & white; where the photo was taken; type of camera used; description of content). Participants can find the information they do not know by interviewing community elders or their families. For the description, they must observe as many details as possible to describe the content, the angle at which the photo was taken, the details in the foreground, in the background, etc.

Discussion: Documenting a photo with a description sheet is an introduction to some procedures in treating and managing photographic archives. The discussion can therefore focus on what young people know about archives and the ease or difficulty they had in finding old photos and identifying them.

Suggested question: What is the key information you need in order to put a photo in context? How do we describe a photo to ensure proper retrieval several years or generations later? Will this experience have an impact on how young people see their own photos? Would they want to document them?

*This workshop is inspired by the work of Simone Borges Paiva, as part of her project Estação de Memória, in Paraisópolis Brazil.

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