War Memories Intercultural Intergenerational Oral History Project

This project, “War Memories: Intercultural Intergenerational Oral History Project,” is a long-term faculty-student oral history collaborative project at Kalamazoo College. This is a part of the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s ‘Expanding Collaboration Initiative, ‘ which also tests technology stacks, and provides workflows that employ oral history and tools from the digital humanities. People who remember World War II are vanishing, and their precious war memories need to be preserved for future generations. Based on this understanding, a group of faculty and undergraduate students videotaped interviews with Japanese speakers, who were born in 1934 or earlier, on their memories of World War II. Later, interviews were extended to include Japanese speakers residing outside Japan. Additionally, to approach war memories from broad perspectives, people from diverse backgrounds, majorities, such as Japanese commoners, as well as minorities, such as Koreans, Japanese Americans, and former nobility, were interviewed. Furthermore, some of the interviewers’ children as well as undergraduates who were involved in this project were also interviewed. All of these interviews have been published online at ohla.info (faculty project-> war memories). Kalamazoo College students studying Japanese, international students from Japan, and an Antioch College student who is a digital archives coordinator have been involved in this project. This international and inter-institutional collaboration sets our project apart from other digital oral history projects. The procedure of this project has the following steps: videotape an interview in Japanese, transcribe the interview, translate it into English, index and create metadata of the interview using the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) in English and Japanese (and Korean). OHMS is an open source web application to enhance online access to oral history. OHMS “provides users [with] word-level search capability and a time-correlated transcript or indexed interview connecting the textual search term to the corresponding moment in the recorded interview online.” (oralhistoryonline.org). OHMS’s bilingual version was released in the summer of 2016, and this project became the world’s first project to use this new technology. So far interviews were conducted in more than ten locations in Japan, two locations in South Korea, three locations in Michigan, and two locations in Illinois. Visiting international students from Japan and a faculty member made the transcripts. In 2016 and 2017 a GLCA/Mellon grant enabled another form of collaboration among students and GLCA professors. Some Kalamazoo College students received training on how to use OHMS taught by an expert either online or in person. Two K students published short technical articles on OHMS at OHLA.INFO. Kalamazoo College Faculty Student Summer Research Fund enabled us to continue this work during the summer 2017. By summer all Japanese students had returned to Japan, but we continued to work on this project online using Google Docs and other tools.

Project Link: http://ohla.info/war-memories-intergenerational-intercultural-oral-history-project/

Student Creators:

Lisa Johnston: Lisa Johnston is currently a first year student from Birmingham, Michigan. Lisa is majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Japanese at Kalamazoo College. She plays on the tennis team at Kalamazoo College and has a deep interest in the Japanese language. She hopes to continue research in Japanese history.



Min Soo Kim: Min Soo Kim was born in South Korea and raised in Seoul. He graduated Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies and studied mathematics for two years in Imperial College London. When he decided to pursue something other than mathematics, he attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan. He is currently studying chemistry with a concentration on biochemistry and molecular biology. Min Soo’s research was funded by the Mellon Foundation/GLCA in 2016 and by a Kalamazoo College Faculty & Student Summer Study Fund in 2017.