Methodology Used in the Project
||The primary goal for the project is to create primary historical
resources relating to the African American experience with health care in southeast
Michigan. "Primary" historical resources means information coming directly
from people who lived during the time being studied.
||The project continues work which began in 1991, called SourceLINK.
That project also took place at The University of Michigan and was also funded by
the Kellogg Foundation. It set up an electronic database of information relating to
the history of the health sciences in Michigan. By 1995, SourceLINK had
electronically connected 37 repositories (libraries and other organizations possessing
actual documents). Those 37 repositories together hold 1450 different archival
||During the SourceLink work it was discovered that there is a wealth of
information on the topic of the development of the health sciences in Michigan. But
one subject area seemed to be particularly lacking: the history of the African American
experience and influence.
||The project presented in this website begins to fill this gap and presents
primary and secondary sources in the form of oral histories, original documents,
photographs, and newspaper articles.
||At the beginning of this project, a Project Coordinator was hired by the
Principal and Co-Principal Investigators. The major duties of the Project Coordinator were
|to enlist the cooperation of the African American community in Southeastern Michigan; |
|to design procedures for and conduct oral interviews; |
|to coordinate the preservation, processing, and analysis of data. ||
||Additional research staff personnel were later hired by the Project
Coordinator. The current project staff consists of a full-time Project Coordinator, a
full-time Research Associate, a half-time Research Associate, various part-time student
Research Assistants, and community volunteers. All staff members hired were required
to sign a confidentiality pledge form, which are on file at The University of Michigan.
Background Research and Staff Training
the beginning of the project, the Project Team conducted background
research in order to build a foundation of knowledge for the study.
Some of the background research appears in the Hospital Histories
section of this website. Background research information
came primarily from newspaper articles and history books.
The background research revealed the names of people who had been
important in the history of African American health care in southeastern
Michigan. Many of these people were eventually contacted
and asked to be in the oral history part of the study.
The Project Coordinator developed a written Interviewer Training Guide
that was later used to teach interviewers how to do high-quality interviews. In this
context, "high-quality" means at least the following:
interviews are done alike, regardless of who does them.
training guide provides a consistent approach to training
research assistants in data collection techniques and oral
history methodology. The guide covers basic procedures to
be used by interviewers to engage in high quality data collection
and to properly conduct oral interviews. The guide is a
compilation and synthesis of information obtained from published
texts and various oral history web sites on the Internet.
The Training Guide document also focuses on the importance
of complying with the Guidelines and Principles of Oral
History (1992) as established by the Oral History Association.
Every staff member involved with interviewing was required
to attend two (2) in-service workshops, which included watching
videotapes and reading relevant literature. The training consisted
of orienting the staff to the basics of oral history methods,
the types of equipment used during the interviewing and archiving
phases, the use of equipment, mock interviews, and the responsibilities
of both the interviewer and the narrator. Also, a smaller
in-service workshop was conducted by the lead Research Associate
for all staff regarding the principles of confidentiality and
the implementation of data security procedures.
||Pre-interviews are an important part of the process of collecting oral
histories. They are conducted in order to determine the eligibility of prospective
participants. Prior to conducting pre-interviews, potential narrators were identified on
the basis of background research and community referrals. During Phase I, potential
narrators were grouped into two (2) tiers as a means of identifying high priority
narrators. Tier I (high priority narrators) consisted of those individuals who were
involved in pivotal decisions, were most active in important events, or were very elderly
or had health problems. The majority of tier I narrators were interviewed during Phase I
of the project.
Following a few initial contacts, the majority of the narrators were
recruited using the snowballing process in which the interviewer asked each narrator to
refer others who might be interested in the project. The Kellogg Project Team has also
recruited participants from formal presentations made to various community groups,
including: the Turner African American Services Council of the Division of Geriatrics in
the University of Michigan (UM) Medical Center; the UM School of Public Health Alumni
Board of Governors meetings; the Mary Mahoney Detroit Nurses Club; and the Detroit Medical
Once a potential narrator was identified, s/he was contacted by telephone
to establish interest in participation in the project. A "Contact
Summary Form" was then completed followed by a letter to
the potential narrator delineating the scope and objectives
of the Kellogg Oral History Project. If the individual indicated
an interest in participating and was considered a high priority
narrator for Phase I, a pre-interview was conducted.
All pre-interviews were conducted in-person at the participant's home or office. The
pre-interview was crucial for building rapport with the potential narrator, assessing the
narrator's memory skills, narrowing the range of topics to what s/he knew, becoming
familiar with the potential interview environment, and discovering any supporting
materials held by the narrator that might be helpful to documenting his/her story
(photographs, manuscripts, reports, memorandums, artifacts, etc.).
During the pre-interview, the interviewer thoroughly explained the purpose of the
research, the project's consent and agreement forms, and the research procedures.
Interviewees were made well aware of how they would be involved in the project and what
they could expect in terms of contact. Following the pre-interview, if a narrator was
deemed eligible, s/he was contacted by letter and a follow-up telephone call in order to
set up a formal interview within a two week time period. Additional background research
was conducted and the Interview Guides were developed during this period.
Contact Letters and Project Consent and Agreement Forms
||Following each contact with research participants, letters were sent to
inform participants regarding their relative position in the research process. In addition
to contact letters, consent and agreement forms are essential, ensuring that researchers
conduct ethical research and that the rights of the participants are protected. These
forms become a record of the research participant's consent and provide legal protection
for the research participant, researchers, and the university.
For this research, there
are two discrete consent forms. The first form, entitled "Informed Consent,"
acknowledges the narrator's voluntary consent to participate in the project. This form was
signed following a thorough explanation of the research objectives and procedures prior to
tape recording an oral interview with the narrator. The purpose of this form is explained
in detail during the pre-interview with the narrator and again before the oral interview
taping. Once the main interview had been conducted and the audio tape transcribed, the
narrator was asked to review and edit the transcript. At that point, a second form, the
"Combined Interviewer Agreement and Consent Form," was signed. This form
completes a transfer of copyright from the participant to the research project and makes
note of any conditions or restrictions the narrator wishes to place upon the tape and
transcript. The Project Team noted any restrictions or conditions placed on an interview
by the narrator (e.g., conditions of time release, restrictions placed on the use of the
interview, or on the method of dissemination).
Interview Guides, Interviewing, and Equipment
||In order to conduct interviews that adhere to the goals of the research,
an Interview Guide was used to ensure that each narrator was asked questions that were
specific to her/his background and questions on subjects relevant to this investigation.
The pre-interview was used to enhance the basic outline of the Interview Guide, allowing
the interviewer to make note of subject areas that may correspond to a narrator's
particular area(s) of life experience, training, or expertise. Prior to an interview, the
research team would review the Interview Guide for topical relevance.
conducted by teams of two interviewers who met the narrators at either their homes or
offices. The average length of each interview was 2 hours. The interview team used the
personalized Interview Guide to ensure that specific questions were asked of every
narrator and to provide a sense of standardization regarding subject matter relevant to
this study. Because of the nature of oral history methodology, however, the order of the
questions asked were not identical in every interview. Also, because the questions were
open-ended, narrators' answers often led the interviewers into subject areas not
specifically covered by the Interview Guide. The richness of any oral history project
often resides in the unanticipated comment, response, or allusion. Great care was taken to
follow-up on pertinent information and to tactfully guide the narrators to provide the
information relevant to this project, while allowing them the freedom to tell their own
story. Each narrator's Interview Guide is filed with the oral history collection.
Every interview was recorded on professional audio tape recording machines made by
Marantz, using normal bias 60 minute audio tapes (30 minutes per side). Images of the
narrators, manuscripts, documents, photographs, and other supplementary materials were
obtained with a Casio LCD digital camera, model QV-10A, in order to transfer and
incorporate them into our Internet website, newsletter, conference brochures, or other
Following the interview, a staff member filled out an "Interview Data Form,"
stating the general tone, length, and success of the interview. It was also noted whether
the interviewers felt that a follow-up interview might be necessary. Follow-up interviews
can be a necessary part of the process if, for any reason, the interview needs to be
aborted and begun again at a later date, or if a second interview is warranted to generate
additional information. During Phase I, three follow-up interviews were conducted: one
because a tape failed to record, one due to a time constraint, and one as a follow-up to
an interview conducted during the pilot phase of the project. When the interviewing was
finally completed, narrators were thanked in a letter and notified that we would contact
them again to have them review and edit their transcripts after the transcription of the
Transcription, Auditing, Editing, and Indexing
||Following the interview, the audio cassettes were delivered to a
transcription company. Upon receiving the transcripts, the Project Team systematically
audited each one, following along with the tape recorded interview. Basic spelling and/or
grammatical corrections were noted. The transcripts were then edited on computer disk,
printed, and sent to the respective narrator with a letter stating instructions for
reviewing and editing the transcript.
The narrators were asked to read, review, and
edit only their own transcript, making note of any changes they would wish to make prior
to releasing the transcripts to the project. Allowing the narrators to edit their own
materials helped to ensure the accuracy of each transcript. Narrators were given
approximately two weeks to make changes, at which time the transcripts were picked up,
issues regarding the final steps of transcript processing were discussed, and the
"Combined Interviewer Agreement and Consent Form" was explained and signed.
Upon receiving the narrator edited transcripts, edits were made to each text, noting
textual additions and editorial changes with square brackets (e.g., Dr. [William] Morris).
A notation of <deletion> appears wherever the narrator crossed out words or phrases.
Any editorial changes made by the Kellogg Project Team were made only for the sake of
readability or clarification and do not alter the content of the information provided by
the narrator. The reader should note that any deletions or significant insertions were
made by the narrators, not by members of the project staff. In addition to the
transcripts, tapes of each interview in its entirety are available.
In order to make this oral history collection as user-friendly as possible, the Kellogg
Project Team has developed an index for each transcript, as well as a Master Index for the
entire collection of transcripts. Included in each index are relevant topics, names,
places, and themes covered in the interview. Our indexing process was adopted from the
method described in Transcribing and Editing Oral History (1977) by Willa K. Baum.
The Master Index of transcripts differs from the individual indexes in that it combines
the information from all the transcript indexes into one source. In that document,
different transcripts are noted by number, corresponding to the alphabetical order of the
transcripts based on the narrator last name. The cover page for each transcript also
indicates in the upper right corner the number it has been assigned in the Master Index.
Each audio tape has also been indexed regarding general subject matter. These indexes
reflect the order in which indexable subjects appear on each side of each tape. The index
to each taped interview can be found in the individual collections and compiled in the
Master Tape Index.
Review and Submission
||The major goal of this oral history research investigation is to make
publicly accessible the information gathered regarding the experiences of African
Americans in the health sciences, in the health professions, and with health care in
southeastern Michigan, 1940-1969. In order to ensure quality and consistency of the
collection, a team of experts, including oral historians, medical historians, and health
policy makers, have reviewed all oral history transcripts prior to submission to public
archives and institutions.
In addition, dissemination efforts will include the use of
the Internet's World Wide Web and periodic press releases. The Kellogg Project Team will
further disseminate information through formal presentations to schools, community and
academic organizations, and publications such as newsletters, newspapers, and scholarly