Go For Broke Archives at the 2016 OHA Conference

The GFBNEC Archives team will be attending the Oral History Association (OHA) Annual Meeting on Friday, October 14th, 2016 in Long Beach, California. We will be giving a presentation about the work we have been conducting using the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS). OHMS is a web-based application created by the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral Histories at the University of Kentucky Libraries, and is used to import and index oral history interviews. We are using OHMS to catalog and index our oral history interviews from our Hanashi Oral History Project.

Example of a Hanashi oral history interview that has been indexed in OHMS.

Our presentation is going to be a part of a larger panel discussion called “Discovery in the Digisphere: Oral history at the intersection of technology, archival technique, and the law.” We will be discussing our own experience with using OHMS, and how it has become an integral part of our workflow within our National Digital Archives of Japanese American Military Service (NDAJAMS) project.

Sean Stanley: My Experience with the Oral History Metadata Synthesizer (OHMS)

This is my first experience working with the Oral History Metadata Synthesizer and so far I am very impressed with what a great tool it is for both archivists and researchers alike. I studied history in college and have some experience with metadata and archiving programs, but had no experience with OHMS prior to interning at the Go For Broke National Education Center. One of the things I like about the program is how user friendly it is. Using OHMS is not as a daunting as a task as it may seem; tagging the videos and adding keywords to each section is simple and straightforward. From the other perspective, searching for terms in the Google-like search box is an extremely efficient way to find a subject within the video, rather than having to scroll through the video manually. For this reason alone, OHMS can be a great resource for researchers wishing to use information from an oral history interview.

OHMS really helps oral histories become a practical resource for researchers and students, bringing about an interactive quality to these videos that did not exist before. All oral histories, but especially those that we work with here at Go For Broke contain valuable insight, discussions, information, and first-hand knowledge on topics that are very important to the history of our country. It is my belief that OHMS will help expose these stories to a wider audience and change the way the public is able to utilize oral histories.

As stated before, I am relatively new to using OHMS, but in the few months I have been using it, my experiences with it have been overwhelmingly positive. For someone new using the program, I would offer to approach using OHMS with confidence. The program is not complicated and once you get the hang of using it, the videos come alive that much more. Also, be gratuitous with your keywords and split the videos into cohesive sections. While OHMS is a great tool, it is also up to us to use our own skills to bring out the best of these valuable resources.

What Are You Working On, Summer Espinoza?

Post by Summer Espinoza, Project Manager at Go For Broke National Education Center

This past month has been an exciting one for our archives!  We’ve brought on three graduate student interns who will be helping us index over 4,200 interview files (representative of our 1,180 oral histories) and Gavin Do, our associate archivist, has joined our growing team.  Our project has seen some significant progress as we’ve moved to a new web-publishing platform where we will be able to maximize user accessibility to our intensive indexing and cataloging. Once our project is done, users will be able to apply textual searches to oral histories. Currently, we are testing functionality between the indexing application, the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer and Omeka, our web-publishing platform. Our team also met with scholars, Drs. Kristine Dennehy, Linda Tamura and Thomas Philo, who provided us with fantastic feedback on our subject heading thesaurus.  I also had the opportunity to present our project at the first-annual Society of California Archivists Mini-Conference focused on digital initiatives.

Although I do not have the opportunity to spend much time with the oral histories, I do have the opportunity to guide our indexers and it has been nothing short of inspiring to see both staff and interns working so diligently to unhide these unique narratives.

What Are You Working On, Sean Stanley?

Post written by Sean Stanley, Intern at Go For Broke National Education Center

I am currently working on an interview with Mr. Roy Matsumoto, who served among the Merrill’s Marauders in Burma and Southeast Asia. Mr. Matsumoto’s story is a fascinating one; Roy was born in Los Angeles, later moving to Japan to attend school, before moving back to Long Beach and finding work as a grocer. Mr. Matsumoto was imprisoned at the outbreak of World War II and classified 4-C, or enemy alien, despite being a citizen of the United States. After spending some time in an internment camp, Mr. Matsumoto was able to utilize his knowledge of the Japanese language and was chosen to undertake a mission with the Merrill’s Marauders in Southeast Asia.

Roy became a master sergeant and served on the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon and as an interpreter throughout the Marauders’ campaign in Burma. What struck me throughout Mr. Matsumoto’s reflections was the enduring theme of loyalty to his county, despite the fact that discrimination was at its highest point against Japanese Americans in the States during World War II. Roy was also faced with the difficult task of fighting a war which pitted him against relatives and friends (his cousin and brother both served in the Japanese Army) and put his family in harms way (his extended family just escaped the bombing of Hiroshima). While critical of the treatment of fellow Japanese Americans during the war, Mr. Matsumoto never hesitated to help serve the country that was his home and he loved.

It may be hard to imagine having to face these types of situations, but the truth is Roy Matsumoto was not unique. There were thousands of Japanese Americans that experienced similar effects of discrimination and cultural allegiances that made the war era very difficult. In a quote from an earlier interview with Grant Hirabayashi, Japanese Americans, especially soldiers were “happy to be accepted for who they were” while serving in the military, giving them back a sense of pride and belonging through this trying time. Despite all of this, many Nisei soldiers served their country with the utmost respect and loyalty.

When we see and hear discrimination in history, I believe there is always an opportunity to learn and better ourselves as a society and these men’s stories can be used as tools for understanding the importance civil rights in our own modern society.

What Are You Working On, Alan Hino?

Post written by Alan Hino, Intern at Go For Broke National Education Center

I am currently working on Mr. Saburo Nishime’s Hanashi Project Oral History interview clips. I was really impacted by a quote from Mr. Nishime when he was discussing how often his Captains were being replaced. One Captain delivered a very powerful quote. This quote was so powerful that I had to copy it down verbatim in order to deliver it just as Mr. Nishime had recited it. Here is the following quote:

“Nisei soldiers, we have to get into combat, to make the necessary sacrifice as common soldiers, before we can hold our heads up as Americans. That would affect us even when we get back to Hawaii, we can hold up our head because we were in combat. We have to get into combat to get the status, we can up hold ourselves as Americans.”

That quote really had an impact on Mr. Nishime, since it had stuck with him after all of these years. The weight and responsibility of that quote must have been humbling to hear as a young man entering combat. The “necessary sacrifice” was such a bold statement, I had to rewind it a few times to fully understand its meaning. For these men, it was not enough to defend our country – their Captain demanded sacrifices so they can all call themselves Americans. This was such an awe-inspiring quote for me. It stuck with me throughout the rest of the day, and I felt a renewed patriotism. This quote tied directly into another quote that Mr. Nishime had discussed.

While describing his family history, he mentioned that, although his parents did not offer him this advice before he left, he had heard that many Japanese families telling Nisei soldiers to “not shame the family name.” This quote really showed how important pride, honor, and family were to Japanese American soldiers. Rather than focusing on the individual and the danger the soldier would be facing, the family focused on their name. This reminded me of the old saying that “wounds heal, scars fade, but glory is forever.” Your actions will be forever attached to your name, and your name is something that cannot be so easily forgotten. This quote was something I just quickly glossed over the first time I heard it. But when I took the time to really pay attention, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Although they were never spoken to me explicitly, my family has always preached this sense of pride. This pride comes with being courageous and doing what is right. Like the Captain’s quote, the actions and sacrifices of the soldiers ties into their status as Americans. So, too, does the actions of the soldier tie into the family name.