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I'd like to tell the story of my bargaining unit. Can I get any help in getting started?

Yes, you can... just read the section on Capturing your history. Click here to link, and then contact Roslyn (Roz) at RozWrites2016@gmail.com

How can I find the archives of the local newspaper for the town/city of my bargaining unit?

The best place to start is at the main branch of your city/town library. If they do not have the paper, either on paper or on microfilm, go the the website for the Boston Public Library, click on "Our Collections", select: newspapers. Then click on Historical Newspapers on microfilm. It's a very good collection.

Where can I borrow equipment to record an interview?

Someone in your network of family, friends and co-workers might might have a cell phone with video capability. If so, ask them if you can borrow it or, better still, ask them if they would record the interview for you! If you can't get access that way, contact your local community television group. They may have equipment to lend and can give you some instruction on how to use it. Try to get someone else from your bargaining unit to work with you. It is tricky to record while you are conducting an interview.

How can I edit the video that I record for the story of my unit?

There are some basic-level editing programs available for current personal computer operating systems, for example "iMovie" on the Apple OSX platform. You will need to learn a bit about importing and editing video with these programs, but you should be able to select the video segments that you need, and put together a simple story. You will need to have enough disk storage space to store the unedited video footage while you are working, which may require borrowing or purchasing an additional hard drive.

Do you have more source materials that are available to people doing research?

Yes, we plan to have transcripts of the full interviews available, and possibly other source information. Please contact me at RozWrites2016@gmail.com if you would like to know more about these materials.

How do I prepare to get people's stories?

We provide some suggestions below, in the "Story Prep" section.

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Massachusetts Nursing Association

Massachusetts Nursing Association Facebook page

Story Prep

The most important thing to do to prepare for an interview is to be ready to listen with total concentration. Learn as much as you can about the union history before the interview. Also practice asking your questions so you are completely comfortable with the questions and the equipment you are using to record the interview. If the person you are interviewing starts to talk about something you were planning to ask her later, try not to interrupt, but listen so that you can ask your questions a little differently later on.

To set the stage for the interview, you want to be sure the interviewee is comfortable with you. This is called establishing rapport. Tell her how you will use the story she tells you, and also how you got involved in the project that led you to do her interview. Ask if she has any questions for you. If she does, answer them as fully as you can or offer to get back to her with the information, and, of course, do get back.

Ask for her permission to use her interview. This is very important. Click here for a form for her to sign indicating that she has agreed to the interview and your use of it. Ask if she is willing to have you use her name. Reassure her that there are no "right" or "wrong" answers, you are only interested in what she remembers and what was meaningful to her.

You may want to practice interviewing someone you know well... just to get comfortable asking the questions.

Here's a sample list of questions that will help you get started. Write out all of your questions ahead of time, but be flexible about how you ask them. They may not all be relevant to each interviewee.

A. Background:

Where did you grow up? How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Where did you live when you were in high school?

B. Interest in nursing:

How did you get into nursing?

What nurses did you know growing up?

Where did you go to nursing school? How did you choose that school?

What was your first job as a nurse? Where was it? How long did you work there?

C. Changes in nursing:

What was nursing like when you started?

What kind of nursing did you start in(e.g., med/surg, maternity, etc)?

What were the conditions: what hours/shifts did you work, number of patients, pay)?

What was your second job as a nurse?

D. Getting to the ___________ hospital:

When did you start working at the _______________hospital?

What was your first nursing job there?

How did the nurses from different units get to know each other?

E. Starting the union/ getting involved in the union:

Was there a union at _____________hospital when you started working there?

If yes, how did you get involved in it?
     What did you do with the union? What were the most important issues when you got involved? How were these issues addressed by the nurses?What kinds of action did the nurses take to make their positions clear?

If no, how did the union get started?
     What triggered the starting of the union? What kinds of meetings did you have? Where did you meet? Which nurses were most active in organizing for the union(names and nursing positions)? Were other workers at __________hospital forming unions at that time? If yes, how did you support each other?

F. Making the union effective:

How did the nurses spread the word about the union? Were there representatives from each nursing area?

What particular union struggle stands out for you? Why was that so important?

How did the union deal with that issue? How did the hospital respond?
     What happened next?

What was your role in it? What union positions did you hold?

Download these questions as a PDF file.

At the end of the interview: ALWAYS -- thank the person for the interview, ask if there is someone else she thinks you should interview (and get the name and contact information), and ask if she has any photos or scrapbooks she can show you. If so, ask if you can borrow them to scan.

Enjoy yourself...it's a wonderful way to learn history!

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Copyright (C) 2016. Roslyn Feldberg. All Rights Reserved