By: Carla Eilo
This spring, students from the Northwood School have been collaborating with the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society by participating in a special project which engages them with members of the community by conducting oral history interviews.
As the Historical Society prepares a new exhibit, a timeline of Lake Placid History, they had identified topics of local history that would be exhibited such as sports, hotels, and industry. Members of the community who had experiences or background in these topics were identified and paired with a student to be interviewed.
The final product of these interviews are planned to be shown in the timeline exhibit.
“The greatest thing about this project is the partnership between Northwood and the Lake Placid Historical Society,” said Tom Broderick, the Northwood School teacher leading the students on the interview process.
“This project teaches our students a couple of things. The first is that history is alive,” Broderick states. “They are meeting all of these amazing people who have had such an indelible impact on the community in which they live and they are learning about their lives. The second thing is that it is giving them a greater appreciation of Lake Placid and all the nuances that are part of it and also, the people who helped build it to be what it is today.”
The students have been following a process to complete the interview project. The first was to understand the background of the interviewee and then create questions. A couple of classes were conducted to teach the students techniques about the art of interviewing and how to engage the interviewee with follow-up questions.
After they complete their preparation, students were able to sit down and conduct the oral history interview.
“I am very pleased to hear about the various interviews taking place for the Historical Society,” town historian, Beverly Reid acknowledges. “It has always been the best part of being Historian, speaking with people with various interests and knowledge. There is always something new to be learned about our area, the people and local history.”
Eleven interviews are currently in the process of being completed. Each student spends about an hour interviewing the person. Using their newly-acquired skills, they guide the interview and focus on the subject in which the interviewee is knowledgeable. The interviews are recorded on two cameras and an audio device. They will be working on the interviews and editing their footage over the summer.
The audio recordings will be added to the Historical Society’s catalog program as oral history archives. Those who are looking to research Lake Placid history will be able to utilize the audio recordings as a primary source.