History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - History Project - What Can I Contribute?

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    What Can I Contribute?

    Any of the following which reference LGBT people, organizations, businesses, events, etc.:

    • Letters to and from friends and associates
    • Photographs
    • Minutes of meetings
    • Annual reports
    • Newsletters, newspapers, bar rags, magazines issued by Milwaukee-area LGBT groups etc.
    • Artifacts or paraphernalia of any sort: matchbooks, hand-outs from New Years eve or anniversary events, etc.
    • Posters, banners, flyers, other informational literature
    • Newspaper articles
    • Video or audio tapes of Milwaukee media coverage of events, etc.
    • Awards, plaques
    • Diaries or memoirs
    • Oral histories (see the do-it-yourself guide)

    Some items can be digitized (photographed or photocopied) and the original returned to you, but we would prefer to keep and preserve the original items for safekeeping if at all possible.

    National or state items are of less importance, but are useful in that they help to put local events into perspective, and place what was going on here within the context of state, regional, and national events.

    The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Oral History gathering

    The Project plans to interview both key community figures and some representative "regular" people as time allows- but there are limitations of time and volunteers to do as much interviewing as we would like. You may know people who have a rich history in the community, and great experiences to share, and it's simply not possible for the History project to get to everyone with a story to tell on a timely basis. For that situation, we have providing this do-it-yourself guide to taking an oral history.


    • The interview should be done somewhere the interviewee will be comfortable and at ease.
    • Pick a quiet place, free from distractions and background noise.
    • Prepare a list of questions you want to have answered, which you think will bring out the particular interviewee's experiences. Couch those questions within the framework of the attached questionnaire. (The attached is a list of questions developed by people experienced in interviewing people. While some of the questions may seen irrelevant, they are designed partly to help relax the interviewee, provide a common background against which later questions can be framed, and ease into the more difficult questions.)
    • Ask the interviewee to bring along any materials they may with to reference: newspaper clippings, photographs, etc. (Many of these can be collected later, but some may help the person relate their experiences.)
    • In some situations, a group setting may be a good idea: especially when the interviewee needs to get "warmed up" or usually becomes most talkative when in a group of friends. This can be a good thing, since the recollections of one person can cause another to recount a similar story or related event. Two warnings however: don't make the group too large (or none of the individuals will have the chance to recount as much as they would like), and take careful notes of who says what so you can follow up with any questions later.

    What you will need:

    • Audio tape recorder (standard cassette) - tape the entire interview or discussion.
    • Paper and pen or pencils - take notes as you go, and note tape recorder counter setting at key points. This will make finding specific sections much easier later, and reduces the need to transcribe the entire interview.
    • A relaxed setting for a decent period of time.

    After the interview:

    • Don't wait too long to jot down your own observations and to follow up with any questions. If you delay this step, you will forget what that pressing question or follow-up item was and perhaps lose a key piece of information.
    • Contact the History project about incorporating your interview and notes into the permanent collection- based on keywords in the notes, we may find it useful enough to use more quickly than we might have otherwise. You and your friend or acquaintance will be acknowledged ! (by name or anonymously as you desire).

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  • Why Contribute?