Audio Interviews: Oral History through an AFS Story Booth in Baltimore

The American Fisheries Society is celebrating an anniversary – the Society is now more than 150 years old. This landmark motivated members to look back in the Society’s history to explore our origins and our journey. History is recorded in the Society’s meeting minutes, journals, and books. However, there are other historical resources, such oral histories. There is, for example, a recording of Emmeline Moore speaking about her professional experiences. Oral history is defined as “the collection and study of historical information using sound recordings of interviews with people having personal knowledge of past events.” If there is no collection of sound recording, there is little to study. The Society would like to experiment with collection of oral histories at the 2021 AFS Meeting in Baltimore.

We encourage all members to participate in this initiative. We have distilled lists of questions to be answered by students, young professionals, and mature professionals. The opportunity to participate in a 15-minute interview will be offered as you register for the Baltimore meeting. If you wish to participate, you will be asked to identify yourself as a student, young professional, or mature professional. You will be asked to choose one interview question from among six questions created for each demographic. The 150th Celebration Committee will pair a student or young professional with a mature professional and notify each participant of the pairing, questions to be answered, and interview time. An interview room will be set up during the meeting where interviews will be recorded (just sound, no video).

We plan to make the recordings available to the membership. The project would be searchable by interviewee, demographic, and question answered. A report detailing the frequency of participation by demographic and by question answered as well as common themes and other summary information will be presented in the Society’s newsletter. We cannot predict when we will lose the opportunity to ask mature professionals about their experiences. Anyone who has lost a parent or grandparent has probably thought, “I wish I could have asked before it was too late.” This is your opportunity to both ask and answer questions that become part of an oral history of our Society. Please consider participating in this undertaking and indicate your interest during the registration process.