Childhood play and toys: e.g., how your informant played as a childfavorite kinds of toys and places to play contrasts and/orsimilarities to modern toys and play.
ChildhoodPlay and Toys
Myinformant was my grandmother Marion 83, who was born and raised inNew York City in the 1930’s at the time when racism and socialeconomic disparity was heightened. Besides these socio-economicfactors, Marion was raised during the period of the Second World War.Technological developments that we see today were also not in placeincluding computer and internet technology. I interviewed her abouther childhood play. The most salient points regarding her childhoodplay included how they used to play, what they used to play with,rules of the game, gender roles in childhood play and how differentwas playing those days and in contemporary America.
Myinterview was conducted on a face to face interaction with myinformant, Marion. We were resting after dinner on April 13, 2015,when I decided to inform her about my research. She agreed to it andwas willing to respond to my questions and any other detail that shefelt was helpful for my assignment. The conversation tookapproximately one hour. During the interview, I recorded everythingin my phone. The following morning, I played the recorded interviewand made some notes which I later used to generate my report.
WhenMarion was a small girl, she used to play outside with other girls inthe neighborhood. Most of the games were feminine in nature and werecentered on the traditional gender roles. The major things thatMarion used to play with were a skipping rope, a teddy bear, Barbiedolls and model houses. She played these with her friends outside herhome or sometimes inside her home with her sisters and a brother.Mostly, girls used to play separately from boys. Most of the playsthat Marion and other girls played were meant to prepare them fortheir traditional roles which were mainly household and domestic. Forexample she had a model kitchen with all kitchen accessories. Withthese accessories, she could pretend to cook, serve her friends andher brother as a family and later wash the dishes, and arrange hermodel house. In some instances, Marion and her friends would maketheir own toys from local materials. For example she had a doll thatshe made from old fiber materials and she used to call it her ‘baby’Monica. Through this, she carried out different roles of caring for ababy, a role that was solely left for women.
Marionnoted that, unlike today when boys and girls mingle freely whenplaying, it was not the case during their times. Boys tried to keepto their masculine games when girls concentrated on their femininegames. Electronic games such as computer games, video games or theinternet were not available during my interviewee’s time. She saysthat, this is a major disparity between children of the early 20thcentury and children of the late 20thcentury.
Duringmy interview, I employed different techniques for oral historyinterview. The first technique that I used was formulating a centralissue on which to research on. The issue was about childhood playduring the early 20thcentury. This enabled me to come up with a few questions on which touse on acquiring information from my informant. Although I did nothave written or guided interview questions, I had prepared myself onhow to go about with the interview (Truesdell, 2001). When thesubject juggled from the subject of interest, I was able to redirecther to the main issue without a problem.
Anothertechnique that was helpful for my interview was carrying out abackground check on the period I was researching on. The 1930’s wasa period when the country was undergoing the Great EconomicDepression. Besides, the Second World War started during this periodhence I needed to be familiar with the social, political, culturaland economic aspects of these periods to enhance my understandingduring the interview.
Theother technique of oral history research that was useful in myinterview was ensuring that I had informed my informant on myintentions to interview them, the purpose of the interview and thatthey had a right not to be interviewed if they are not comfortable.Seeking consent from interviewee allows voluntary participation. Thisis ethical procedure of a good oral history interview.
Afterhaving taken all the three steps above, I was ready for theinterview. To get the interview right, I was able to make myinformant comfortable by introducing a general discussion of what itwas like during her childhood years. This allowed the interviewee tofeel at ease and answer my questions well.
Finally,recording of the interviews was a technique which allowed me to keepan original transcript of the interview. This was useful for my notetaking exercise that allowed me to write a report of my interview.
Conclusively,the oral history interview experience was a memorable one. Despitehaving interacted before with my Marion, the interview feltdifferent. It was extensive, formal and interactive. If I were tocarry out the interview again, it would be even smoother since I havelearnt the tools of trade.
Truesdell,B. (2001). Oral history techniques: How to organize and conduct oralhistory interviews. Unpublishedmanuscript, Indiana University. Retrieved from http://www. indiana.edu/~ cshm/oral_history_techniques. pdf.(Accessed April 14, 2015).