Showing posts with label research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label research. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Living Heritage Podcast Ep143 Roadside memorials, anniversaries and conferences with Holly Everett. #FolkloreThursday

Terra Barrett and Holly Everett.
In this episode, Holly Everett discusses her research on roadside memorials, grave markers, memorial assemblages, and culinary tourism as well as the 50th anniversary of Memorial University's Department of Folklore, and the upcoming Folklore Studies Association of Canada conference. Dr. Holly Everett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University, cross-listed with the School of Music’s Ethnomusicology program. She is the author of Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture (2002), as well as articles in Contemporary Legend, Cuizine, Ethnologies, Folklore, the Folklore Historian, the Journal of American Folklore, MusiCultures, and Popular Music and Society. Holly is also the current Head of the Department of Folklore at Memorial and the President of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada.

Download MP3


The Living Heritage Podcast is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HFNL and CHMR Radio. Past episodes are hosted on Libsyn, and you can subscribe via iTunes, or Stitcher. Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Research Workshop: Collecting Community History - April 4th

Research Workshop: Collecting Community History
4 April 2017
The Rooms, St. John's

All of our communities have fascinating stories to tell. Are you interested in community research but not sure where to begin? This workshop will provide you with general tips and suggestions for sources available at the archives that may be of interest to your research.

Become inspired as you hear about what other communities around the Province are doing and how you can get your community involved. During the afternoon, your friendly neighbourhood folklorist Dale Jarvis will offer tips on how to document oral history, how to conduct interviews, and how to use the materials collected.

Cost is $85 per person, 10% discount for Rooms members.

Pre-registration required. All materials are included. Call 709-757-8090 to register or email

Workshop organized by The Rooms in partnership with the Heritage Foundation of NL.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stick out your thumb: hitching for stories from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia

Andrea McGuire, a folklore graduate student at Memorial University, is currently seeking interviews with past and present hitchhikers in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. She is collecting stories from people who used to hitchhike, people who hitchhike in rural communities, people who hitchhike nationally/internationally, and drivers who pick up hitchhikers. Each interview will take approximately one hour, and will be drawn on for Andrea’s master’s thesis. Do you have a hitchhiking story to share? Get in touch with Andrea by phone at 709-771-2216, or via email at She would love to hear from you!

The proposal for this research has been reviewed by the Interdisciplinary Committee on Ethics in Human Research and found to be in compliance with Memorial University’s ethics policy. If you have ethical concerns about the research, such as the way you have been treated or your rights as a participant, you may contact the Chairperson of the ICEHR at or by telephone at 709-864-2861.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Heritage grant announced for documenting the historic NL fishery

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is announcing a $5000 grant program for projects that document, record, present or safeguard the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of the fishery in the province. Possible projects could focus on the intangible cultural heritage associated with boats, their builders and those who went to sea, net making and mending, crab or lobster pot repair, knot-tying and ropework, cod traps, make-and-break engines, knowledge associated with marks and berths, the architecture of fishing stages and associated material culture (splitting tables, etc), the business of making fish, or oral histories related to the fishery.

“This new program will give communities an opportunity to record some of the important stories and information about the fishery and its role in the daily life of Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Dale Jarvis, folklorist and development officer with the foundation. “A lot of this information is fragile, and needs to be collected before it vanishes.”

The Fisheries ICH Grants are open to town councils, museums, archives or incorporated non-profit cultural and/or heritage organizations.

Deadline for applications is 22 August 2014.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposal with the ICH Development Officer before applying, by phone at 1-(888)-739-1892 ext 2, or email

(photo: the fish plant and boats, Twillingate, 1963)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Memories of Petty Harbour Wanted for Oral History Project

Do you have memories about the concerts, times and social customs in Petty Harbour? The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) and the Petty Harbour Maddox Cove Heritage Museum are launching the Petty Harbour Oral History Project, and want to talk to you.

Collected stories will be made available through a public website, and will also be archived at the Petty Harbour Maddox Cove Heritage Museum. Researchers have started to interview locals, and are looking for more people to share their stories.

“We are looking for anyone with a connection to Petty Harbour who would be willing to share their memories,” says folklorist Dale Jarvis, with the foundation. “From recollections of the town’s social life to tales of the community concerts, if you have been involved in the community we would love to hear from you.”

The oral history project is part of HFNL’s ongoing Intangible Cultural Heritage program. The program works to safeguard the living heritage of the province for present and future generations everywhere, as a vital part of the identities of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and as a valuable collection of unique knowledge and customs.

As part of the 6th Annual Arts and Heritage Festival, a “Memory Store” recording booth will also be set up in an old fishing store in Petty Harbour, where family members and friends can interview each other.

If you would like more information or are interested in being interviewed for the project please contact Heritage Intern Terra Barrett at (709)739-1892 ext. 5 or

Friday, May 30, 2014

Calling all iceberg experts - research help wanted!

Guest post by Alexa Kanbergs

Dr. Mark Carey of the Robert D. Clark Honors College in Eugene, Oregon has spent a great amount of time researching icebergs, specifically in the Northern Hemisphere and he now needs your help! In his most recent project he is trying to understand people's historical relations and interactions with icebergs. This could include: cultural importance of icebergs in songs, art, literature, etc.; traditional and/or local knowledge about icebergs; fishermen's interactions with icebergs.

In addition to cultural information, Dr. Carey is interested in learning more about major iceberg events; iceberg eradication; iceberg water harvesting; the International Ice Patrol; and other things related to icebergs over the last century or so.

He is hoping someone might be able to help identify any resources that might have information relating to these topics, specifically resources that are unique to your location and may not be available anywhere else. Also, if any one could suggest organizations or individuals that might be experts on the topics that would be incredibly helpful as well.

Please email information or suggestions to

For more information about Dr. Carey's work you can also visit his website:

Thank you for your help!

Photo: "Iceberg" by Brad Saunders (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Work and Mission of Folklorists: 4 rules for ICH Brokers and Mediators

I've been doing some research for an article on Intangible Cultural Heritage brokers, facilitators and mediators, which I'm writing for Marc Jacobs, the director of FARO in Flanders. My neighbour and colleague, Jillian Gould, recently leant me her copy of Public Folklore, and this morning, I was reading the chapter by Bess Lomax Hawes, the American folklorist, researcher and folk musician.

Here she is, hanging out with the Clintons in 1993, like you would, if you were a kick-ass and award-winning folklorist:

In the book, Hawes gives some advice to members of the American Folklore Society, the discipline of folklore, and every folklorist under the sun.  But her advice is pretty applicable to any anyone in a research-based field. 

Here are her rules* for being a good folklorist:
1. Don't get lazy.
2. Teach as much as you can when you can - broadcast.
3. Recognize that the job is as yet unfinished and likely never will be.
4. Get out there and do some good hard fieldwork. That is where all your best ideas and your most important knowledge are waiting for you. If you do your work well, folks will teach you back.
Now, let's get out there, and do some work!


* taken from:   Hawes, Bess Lomax. "Happy Birthday, Dear American Folklore Society: The Work and Mission of Folklorists" in "Public Folklore" edited by R. Baron and N. Spitzer. Washington: Smithsonian Institution P, 1992. p. 65-73.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Equipment suggestions for doing oral history fieldwork in Newfoundland

A couple people have recently asked for information about what equipment to get for doing oral history interviews in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve got a couple recommendations which I’ll present here, which are intended primarily for community groups doing basic interviews. I’ll stick to equipment that I think is easy to use, available in the province, and affordable for small groups working with small budgets. I’m also going to focus on audio interviews, primarily. If you are collecting people’s memories, family stories, or community history, audio might be all you need. If you are documenting a craft skill, or a performance tradition like dancing, video might be better.

For basic oral history interviews, we’ve used a couple different digital audio recorders here in the ICH office. We’ve bought most of our equipment locally through Long and McQuade and have had good service from them. They also rent equipment, fairly affordably, if you are looking at a short term project.

Two simple recorders we’ve used from them are the Zoom H2n and Roland R-05 recorders. Both those are in the $180-$200 range, and are easy to use and set up. The work a lot like a digital camera, with a memory card you can pop out and into a card reader on your computer. They also sell a Tascam recorder, slightly cheaper, which has decent reviews, but which I’ve never used.

We’ve also just purchased a new slightly higher-end Roland - 6-channel Digital Field Audio Recorder, which retails for around $500. It is still easy to use, and has the large XLR jacks for more serious external microphones. If you are going to be doing a lot of recording, and have a budget for a better recorder with more options, it is a good, locally-available machine. If you are just starting out, and have a smaller budget, you will still get good recordings with the Zoom and Roland R-05’s built-in mics.

If you are going to be embarking on a project with our ICH office, and want your information shared on Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative (DAI), we’d recommend that you purchase an external USB harddrive to backup your media and data files. This will make it a lot easier when the time comes for us to help you upload your community collection. We have a variety of them in our office, most of them purchased through Staples or Costco. The prices of these are always changing, and I don’t have a particular recommendation for brand, but expect to pay anywhere from $100-$200 for a 1 or 2 TB drive. If you are doing a lot of photos, audio interviews, or video, pay a bit more and get larger than you think you’ll need. The prices are always coming down, and now 2 and 3 TB drives are pretty available at reasonable prices.

So, for $300-$500 you can get a good audio recorder and external harddrive. If you are looking at buying something for a project, call me at 1-888-739-1892 ext 2, or email and I’ll help you out as much as I can. We love seeing community oral history projects done right, and want to help communities get their collections online. We can help you get your project set up, and help you sort out what information you will need to collect along with your photos and audio, and even get you started with a spreadsheet to track it all and get it ready for upload to the DAI.

If you are REALLY into audio, I’d highly recommend you check out the website maintained by Andy Kolovos at the Vermont Folklife Centre. It has great reviews of a lot of different equipment. And I’m dying to know what he thinks of his wife's new Tascam iM2 mic for iPhone! Tascam, anytime you want me to do a product review, let me know!

- Dale Jarvis

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Call for the Brokenhearted - guest post by Annie McEwen

It will be two years this August since I had my heart broken. My boyfriend came home from a summer away and without warning told me he was through, packed up all his things, including the bed we shared, and drove away from an exceptionally solid, three-year relationship. I remember the first thing I did after he left was hurl a heavy roll of duct tape as hard as I could across the room, making a giant dent in the wall. Our wall. No, wait. 

I had never been so confused, so lost. In the preceding three years I had often been soothed by the firm belief that even if I had no idea where my career was going, or where I wanted to live, or who I wanted to be, at least I could count on the fact that he would be there. He had been my anchor, and when he cut free, I felt the great violent heave of the world around me. And I was terrified.

My instinct was to armour myself so no one would ever be able to hurt me like that again. For months I worked to add layers to a thick shell I could curl up inside to keep myself safe. I saw no way out and wanted no way out.

But slowly, somehow without me even noticing, one of the worst things that had ever happened to me started to become one of the most interesting, the most life-giving. I began to connect more deeply with those around me who had had similar experiences. I began to recognize how extraordinarily brave it was to have one's heart open enough to be damaged by another. And I began to realize that losing my anchor and having my heart broken might just be a precious gift.

I'm sharing my story with you because I would like to hear yours. I have recently been awarded a grant from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council to make a radio documentary about broken hearts. I'm interested in your stories about the rotten end of love, the death of desire, the loss of a loved one—and how these experiences changed you. What is your life like post-heartbreak? Who have you become? What happens when a soul loses that by which it is defined? What do we do with the energy we once invested so heavily in another?

I am looking for willing participants, those ready to speak honestly and bravely about their experiences with heartbreak. Your experience does not have to, like mine, have been a life-giving one. Perhaps you are still curled up in your hard shell. Or perhaps you never felt the need to build a shell in the first place.

Jonathan Goldstein, writer and producer of the CBC Radio show Wiretap, once wrote (here—, “The eyes are not the window to the soul. The radio is.” I've chosen the medium of radio to explore this topic because I have learned that stories matter, indeed, they are at the heart of all things, and that nothing captures human life more intimately than the voice.

If this sounds like something you'd like to be a part of, please send me an email at I look forward to hearing your stories.

-Annie McEwen

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Do you remember the Grenfell Mission?

Do you remember the Grenfell Mission? If so, Heidi Coombs-Thorne would like to talk to you. 

Heidi is a postdoctoral researcher with Memorial University, working on a history of the Grenfell Mission in Labrador. She is looking at the relationship between the Grenfell Mission and the Inuit-Metis of Southern Labrador (1939-81). 

"I'm particularly interested in the 'patient perspective' of the Mission and the experience of living under such an influential organization," she says.  "Through my own earlier research, I noticed that most (if not all!) of the histories of the Grenfell Mission focus on the Mission's perspective and use exclusively Mission documents and sources.  That approach omits the patients' voice and leaves a huge untold part of the history. So I'm hoping to find out what it was like to be patients of the Grenfell Mission and how the people felt about the Grenfell Mission in general."

Heidi will be conducting interviews with people who remember the Mission in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, July 3-7 2013. If you would like to participate, please contact her at or 709-763-4416

Photo: Dr. Hare at Harrington Hospital from the Vashti Bartlett Photograph Collection

Friday, June 7, 2013

Job Posting: Traditional Water Sources Survey Fieldworker

Traditional Water Sources Survey Fieldworker

Memorial’s Department of Folklore and the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador are hiring a researcher to work on their “Traditional Knowledge of Springs and Wells in the St. John's Area” project. The project is designed to map locational information and to collect oral histories about wells, springs and natural water sources within the St. John's Area. It will research the location and associated knowledge of springs, wells, water diviners, spouts, wishing wells, rag wells, traditional knowledge about water purity and cleanliness, techniques to prevent fouling of water sources, and traditional values around drinking water. This research will focus on three main concepts related to water sources and traditional management of those resources: geospatial knowledge about the resource; knowledge about use and management of the resources; and local values about those resources.

The applicant must have excellent oral and written communication skills; be curious, outgoing and willing to talk to property owners and local informants; have experience in conducting folklore or oral history interviews; and have training (preferably at the graduate level) in Folklore, Archaeology, Cultural Geography, History or another related field. Valid driver’s licence and use of automobile, and previous experience with a heritage organization is an asset. Someone willing to get wet and dirty is a bonus!

Work will be based out of the offices of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, and will begin as soon as possible after the closing date for applications, running approximately through July to October 2013.

Please send cv and cover letter to:

Philip Hiscock, Department of Folklore
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St John’s NL A1B 3X8

or by email to

Applications should be submitted before Friday 21 June 2013.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

12 tips for a better oral history or folklore interview

Nervous about your first oral history or folklore interview? It's OK, I'm here to help! Here are some tips and tricks to get you ready. And if you want, you can download this as a one-page PDF for handy reference.

1. If you haven't done any oral history interviewing before, think first about a focus or theme for your project.  Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this interview? What information do I want to get?”

2. Think about the type of interview you wish to do.  Life History Interviews focus on the life history of a person and the changes they may have experienced;  Topic Interviews collect information about a specific subject, workplace, skill or occupation.

3. Do an informal “pre-interview.”  Be clear with your “informant” - the person you are interviewing - that the interview is being recorded, and what it will be used for. Have a discussion in advance about the type of information of interest to you.

4. In general, have a list of topics in mind you want to cover in the interview, rather than a set list of questions. You might have some written starting questions to begin with, but then shift to your topic list and be flexible.

5. Start off with some easy questions, such as short biographical questions about name, date of birth, parents and the like. This gives you good identifying information at the start of the interview, and helps relax your informant. You can ask more detailed or personal questions after you both settle into the conversation.

6. Ask questions one at a time. If your question has two or three parts, ask them separately.

7. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer. Questions that start with “how” or “why” get you more interesting answers.

8. Use plain, straightforward words and avoid leading questions. Rather than asking “I suppose life as a fisherman was hard?”, ask “Can you describe what life was like for a fisherman?”

9. Ask follow-up questions. Then ask some more! If something is unclear, ask for clarification.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to which you think you already know the answers. You might get suprising answers!

11. Be a good listener, and refrain from talking too much yourself. Use body language, nodding, and smiling to encourage your informant. Let them know, visually, that you are interested.

12. Don't let periods of silence fluster you. Just wait and don’t rush the interview. Sometimes people need a moment to complete their thoughts. If you are silent, chances are your informant will fill the gap by saying something more about the question you asked last.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Arnold's Cove Water Truck, circa 1970

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that we've been working with some local heritage enthusiasts in Arnold's Cove on a project to map out the legacy of resettlement in that community. We'll be running some community training over the next little bit, showing people how to create a Google map of some of their photos and stories.

The area of interest in Arnold's Cove contains over 70 buildings which were floated into the community during the resettlement period. The local heritage committee has located most of these on a paper map, and we'll be showing them how to transfer some of their collected information into a digital format which they can share online.

I drove out to Arnold's Cove this morning to plan out our workshop, and local volunteer Edna Penney showed me some of their historic material on the theme of resettlement.

The photo above is one of hundreds they've amassed. It was taken around March 1970, and shows one of the houses which was brought into Arnold's Cove. When the houses first arrived, many of them were not yet hooked up to town water, so the town had a water truck (pictured above) which delivered water to those dwellings.

If you have a memory of the Arnold's Cove water truck, or know any of the people in the photo, you can email me (Dale Jarvis) at

Monday, June 4, 2012

Paris Notes: ICH Researchers Forum and UNESCO General Assembly on ICH

I arrived in Paris yesterday, and since then have had a day and a half of interesting meetings and conversations already.

I got here in time Sunday to take in the second half of the Forum of ICH Researchers meeting at la Maison des Cultures du Monde. The first panel session was on community participation in the safeguarding of ICH under the Convention, chaired by Toshiyuki Kono. There were several different papers presented, but the two that interested me particularly were the papers given by Win van Zanten, an ethnomusicologist from the University of Leiden, and Marc Jacobs, the director of the Flemish Interface Centre for Cultural Heritage.

Van Zanten looked at some of the short films on the UNESCO website for Intangible Cultural Heritage (see some of them here). He argued that they were important because they increase the visibility of ICH, but thought that they could do more to document the tradition in relation to community, and that the larger social context could be better documented. He also raised the idea of showing the film back to community, filming their reaction, and include their comments.

Jacobs presented on heritage communities and safeguarding programs, and argued that the critical success factor to safeguarding programs is the presence of a cultural broker, someone who can walk the community through the processes involved in an ICH project. He argued that these mediators are crucial for building bridges, and providing followup that goes beyond pure documentation. It was music to my ears, and a validation of the work we are undertaking with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly the project-based training model we are working on, and which we will hopefully be doing more with later this year.

The second panel session was on identifying priority areas for research, facilitated by Harriet Deacon, Hon. Research Fellow at the University of Capetown. I've followed her excellent posts on Twitter @the_archive for a while now, so it was nice to meet her in person. Misako Ohnuki, Deputy Director of the International Research Centre for ICH in Asia and the Pacific Region, who I'd also only ever met online, was first up, talking about documentation as a tool for safeguarding the ICH of communities. Then Deacon and Chiaro Bortolotto talked about their impressive project to document and track current published research on ICH. It was noted that there are gaps in the research, with a large amount of grey literature that has not been documented, and a growing body of practical handbooks, guides and suchlike documents being produced by NGOs which are not part of the academic literature.

The meeting ended with a decision that the Forum should meet again, annually if possible. I'll keep you posted on developments.

This morning was the start of the fourth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO Headquarters. It was a fascinating day, with some very interesting comments made by a variety of state party representatives.

One of the topics up for debate was whether there should be a ceiling placed on the number of nominations the secretariat can examine each year for the Convention's Lists, which include the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The presentations were insightful and at times passionate. The general consensus was that a ceiling on the number of nominations is necessary because of the time and resources required to properly assess each nomination. But there was also a general sense that the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding not be limited, as it represents traditions under particular threat.

There is also a listing of programmes, projects and activities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage considered to best reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention, a list which seems to be somewhat undersubscribed, and it was suggested that due to the small number of listings, a cap not be placed on that list either.

A need for best practices led to many state party representatives talking about the importance of safeguarding ICH, stating that the listing of traditions is less important within their jurisdictions than the active safeguarding of those traditions to ensure they continue at the community level. Many state parties returned to this theme over the course of the day: Austria noted the importance of UNESCO capacity-building initiatives in safeguarding ICH, Cuba talked about the need for ICH training at regional level; Jordan expressed the importance of community-level work in safeguarding ICH; and St Lucia stressed that listing is less important to some regions than the work inventorying and safeguarding. 

All in all, a fascinating day, and a remarkable first look, for me, at how the ICH General Assembly works.

The day ended with a rather remarkable presentation from Mongolia, mixing traditional ethnic costume, high fashion, traditional (and very modern) music, dance, throat singing, gymnastics, contortionism, and hand-balancing. All in a day's work, really.

Sleep, soon, perhaps, with another three days yet to come, and the ICH non-governmental organizations' meeting first thing tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Top 6 Online Guides for Folklife and Oral History Documentation

I've had a few requests lately for guidebooks or information on running folklore, folklife, and oral history field documentation projects. Here are my top six picks of the week:

1. FOLKLIFE AND FIELDWORK: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques
Available online, broken down into chapters, or also as a full pdf you can download and print

2. Oral History Centre Tutorials
A collection of informative articles and instructional tutorials containing resources such as software and hardware training, oral history guidelines and best practices.

3. Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History

4. The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide
Excellent resource, complete with sample questions

5. New Zealand Guide to Recording Oral History

6. Style Guide for Transcribing Oral History

photo: Ronald White spins a yarn, Stephenville, 2016. photo by Dale Jarvis