February 17, 2015 by Adina Langer
Tonight’s class should offer an enjoyable way for everyone to dip their toes into transcription, indexing, and text encoding. Below, you will find an example from an oral history I conducted for an independent project on the history of Oberlin’s Experimental College. I have included a full rough transcription, several indexed sections, and one section encoded according to TEI standards.
Adina Langer interview with Albert J. McQueen, May 3, 2013, at Kendal at Oberlin in Oberlin, Ohio.
Interview duration: 59 minutes and 8 seconds.
Rough full transcript:
A: This is Adina Langer and today is May 23, 2013. I’m here at Kendall at Oberlin with Albert McQueen. Al, could you please introduce yourself, say your name and when and where you were born?
Q (Albert McQueen): Well I’m Albert McQueen, well, Albert J McQueen, James, Albert James, and I was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina (?sp) way back in a different century: 1927. And I … should I say something about my education, or what?
A: Yeah, sure!
Q: I graduated from high school in Newport News, Virginia and went to Virginia State College for a year and a half before joining the Army, to get GI Bill. So, in February the 5th , 1946, I joined the Army to get GI Bill. And I stayed in the Army 3 years, and I got 4 years of GI Bill. So at Ft. Dix, New Jersey where I was for 2 years, I, when my discharge began to approach, I began going to the college library every night, and they had walls of college catalogs. And I didn’t know anything about these schools up North, but I knew I was not going back down to Virginia State College. So, on my own, and I’m amazed even now that it happened this way, but on my own, without any consultation with anyone else, I, after going through so many college catalogs, I chose 3 institutions to apply to: Cornell, Antioch, and Oberlin. Cornell was the big university and I didn’t want to go to a big university, but they had something back in those days, remember we’re talking about the 1940’s, where most things were segregated. And they had something back in those days which was just remarkable. They called it the … oh now here’s the name of it, the… OK I’m sorry I don’t remember the exact name of it, but it was a … on campus, a center, an educational center which was interracial. They made a point of it, of having black and white students there because that was so unusual during that period. And I was very, very much taken with that, and I, they accepted me. Antioch College was a most unusual and most exciting place, because it was so student-oriented. The work-study program, and everything just seemed to emphasize the good will of students and helping students. Oberlin amazed me from the beginning. That’s because the college catalog I read had enough history in it to talk about the founding of it, 1833, and the first college to give regular degrees to women and to Negroes at the time, in the 1830’s, so Oberlin really fascinated me from the beginning. And when my crisis time came, when I had to make a decision, which one to go to. So, Oberlin grabbed me, and I became an Oberlinian who lived at Burton Hall, and I’ve been an Oberlinian ever since. So that’s basically it.
A: Yeah, and so, what was Oberlin like when you were a student there?
Q: Fabulous (Laughs). Well, the thing that was so striking about it to me, and I assume the other students, was the attention that the administration and the faculty gave you as young persons, developing young persons. A lot of control as well, of course, because we had a Dean of Students, Dean of Men, Dean of Women, and all the dormitories had house mothers. And if you went out at night, you had to check out, and check in, and all that kind of thing. So it was a period of rather, well, I wouldn’t say strict, but very close control of students. And it was a fantastic thing for some of us, because there were areas where students could do things, and the administration would go with them and agree. Now let me give you some examples. At Burton Hall where I stayed, we had a house mother, 3 floors, and a nice dormitory, very very nice. But one thing we didn’t have at Oberlin then was the visitation between male and female students. You could go into a women’s dormitory in the lobby, at certain times, but the house mother would be right there, you know, keeping an eye on you, kind of thing. And the same thing with women coming into men’s dormitory, where the house mother would be right there keeping an eye on you. And a group of us – let me tell you a little bit about that period. Because a number of the male students, and one or two female students here and there, were ex-soldiers. They’d been in the military. And this sort of, was a state of a little shock for some of the administration, because we weren’t kids, we were young adults. And “How can you treat them like young adults?” became a big question, one way or another. Our Dean of Women was very unhappy with a lot of things that happened, Dean Dolliver (?sp), but we had other administrators, particularly the Dean of the College then, whose name escapes me now, who were much more open to change. And I remember a group of us veterans, see, not regular students but veteran students, got together, and decided we would ask – well, first of all, a group, I wasn’t part of that group but a group got together and decided they would set up something like they had learned in London. In London, there’s the…what’s the great garden now…oh gosh…where they have Friday meetings where people can express…
A: Hyde Park?
Q: Hyde Park! Hyde Park. So a number of us knew about Hyde Park, see, I was not one of those, but a number of us knew … veterans, knew about Hyde Park and felt that we needed something like Hyde Park at Oberlin College. So they went to the Administration, and explained it all, and the Administration agreed, and let them do it. So every Tuesday night, I think it was, at the, uh … what’s the great … One of the things I’ve learned is that I have a good memory, but as an old man, whenever I need it some time it evacuates me.
A,Q: (Laughing together)
A: So Tappan Square, or…?
Q: Tappan Square, what’s the great monument there at Tappan Square?
A: The Arch, the Memorial Arch.
Q: Memorial Arch. Memorial Arch…see what I mean by crazy things happening? At the Memorial Arch – that’s where, every Tuesday night, students could get together, and the veteran groups, you know, led the whole thing, and discuss anything they wanted to discuss about the college, about life, or whatever. And that was the great Tappan Square, uh, first big thing that veterans got going. But the second big thing, that’s right…the second big thing was the notion of having co-educational visitations in rooms. So a group of us went to the Administration and … with the idea of having men being able to visit women’s dormitories and go up to the rooms of their friends, and women being able to come into men’s dormitories and go up to the rooms and so on. And this was about 19…49 or 50, something like that anyway. And the Dean of Women almost fainted. Dean Dolliver. Because everything had to be under tight control when it came to men and women, you know, but the Administration finally gave in, and decided, I’m sorry I think it was on a Sunday, Sunday afternoon, and up to about 8 or 9 on Sunday night, there could be visitations within men and women’s dormitories by the opposite sex. And of course, some of the people in the administration almost died – the whole idea, my God, you know really… (Laughing). But that went over beautifully. And with responsibility. Then a group of us – I was part of that – got together because we had, in town, that was called the Bookstore. You know the Bookstore?
Q: Well that was a co-op book store.
Q: And does the name Bill Long ring a bell? Well, you know, Benjamin … what was it called, the big store down there?
A: Ben Franklin.
Q: Ben Franklin, Ben Franklin! Well, the woman who runs that’s father was a great leader of co-ops in Oberlin, Bill Long. And Karen is her name, yeah. And a number of us were very close to the co-ops. I was on their board, and uh, and I worked in the co-op a lot, and so on, and a number of us got the idea, “Why the heck don’t we just have a student co-op?” And we went to Bill Long and he was in agreement, and he helped us and so on, so we worked at it and worked at it, and finally decided that we were going to the Administration and try to get a co-op dormitory where we students, members of the dormitory, would control the dormitory life and so on, and our main idea was we would not hire cooks and so on, or the janitors, we’d save money. That was our main idea. And, I’ll always remember, but I’m so bad with names. The Dean of the College at the time was a very, very agreeable guy, in so many ways. Dean Dolliver, the Dean of Women, almost fainted when we got these ideas, because, see, all the dining rooms were in women’s dormitories then. And they had to hire people who would take care of them and so on, and clean the dormitories, this kind of thing. And the girls could have guests, male guests in from time to time, but men had their dining rooms separate, see, always separate. So finally, the Dean of the College, whose name escapes me, decided, “Why don’t we give these young people an experiment, one-year experiment, to see how it works? See if they can save money, see if they can do this thing with real responsibility – adult responsibility, and not get lost in the sexuality and all that stuff.” And again Dean Dolliver almost fainted but she … OK. (Laughing together) So in 1950, you ever heard of Pyle Inn?
A: Of course!
Q: Pyle Inn was located, you know Dascomb now?
Q: Well on the west side of Dascomb is an empty space now. Because there’s a little drive – not a street, but a little drive that goes into the utility area. Well, between Dascomb and that street, was the Pyle Inn. And across from Pyle Inn is now a big parking lot.
Q: And that’s the Grey Gables parking lot. And Grey (?sp) Gables was our second great co-op. So we got started there and it was the most wonderful experience I had in the whole college.
A: And was that men and women working together in the co-ops?
Q: Of course, of course. We don’t discriminate against women! (laughs) But that was the idea, see the whole thing – that we are young adults, we’re not kids, we’re young adults.
A: Right. And I remember in my research and reading about in loco parentis, you know, and how that gave way … during that time especially by the time you hit the 60’s, you know…
A: … toward this notion that students are adults.
Q: Yup. Young adults. A lot to learn, but they, they…
Q: … yeah. Now the important thing about my period was the veterans, because after you’ve been a veteran, and, in my case 3 years, or a number of years and so on, you’re not a kid anymore. You’re definitely an adult. So the veterans, I think, made the key difference in all of this, that era of the veterans. So if you look into the archives now at the Oberlin Review, I don’t remember exact dates now, but the end of the first semester 1950-51, you’ll see an article about the success of the Pyle Inn co-op. Because we saved, I’m sorry we could… something like 45% of the cost, you know, that was our great key of success. So with that article, we immediately … see, we had Sunday business meetings at Pyle Inn, and immediately we thought, why don’t we go ask for another co-op. And we did, and of course we’d been so successful, what could the Administration say? Even Dean Dolliver, what could she say? Now, Dean Dolliver did insist upon one thing, and that is, there should be, quality administration, “an adult presence” is her term, “an adult presence.” So we didn’t have a house mother, but we did have a woman, I’m trying to think of her name now, who was appointed by the Administration, to eat with us. She didn’t live there, see, but she would have meals there. And she would be sort of an Administration observer, and report back to the Administration what was happening in Pyle Inn. And so, that was another factor that worked in our favor, because we had a very, very good setup for managing the whole thing. One of the persons here at Kendall, Ruth Searles (?sp), was our manager, our manager/buyer I think we called her, who would, you know, make sure we get the right groceries and all that stuff. And we would meet every Sunday, at the business meeting, and decide what we need to be doing all the time. So the Dean of Women had no basis for trying to reject us, because all the reports she was getting back were darned good. Now one thing we had that we made a lot of fun about: we cleaned the whole business, the whole thing. We didn’t hire anyone to clean for us. And we had a student janitor who would clean upstairs. But when he went upstairs, a male, he always had to say “Janitor up!” (Laughs) So the girls would know there’s a man upstairs now, be careful what you wear and what you do and so on. So one of the great jobs for the males there was to be a janitor awhile. (Laughing)
A: Pyle Inn was my first co-op. The Pyle Inn which moved over to Asian, Asian-American,…Asia House.
Q: Asia House. It’s still there.
A: Yeah, um, so the legacy definitely continues, although it was in a different location.
Q: But anyway, we had, after that article in the Review, we went back to the Administration and asked for a second co-op. And of course the Administration was, you know, despite some still reservations, said yes pretty quickly. And, see, Pyle Inn was a one-year experiment, so not only did we ask to carry on with Pyle Inn, but to get another co-op. So that’s when we got Grey Gables, right across the street from Pyle Inn. And that’s when we got established: the Oberlin Students Co-op… OSCA, the Oberlin Student Co-operative Association, that’s right. Oberlin Student Co-operative Association, OSCA. It’s still going now. So that’s a lot of the history there.
A: So obviously students were learning a lot from their advocacy and their working together. What was the academic environment like at Oberlin while you were a student?
Q: Well the academic environment was Oberlin all the way: tough. But also very caring and very considerate. And very, very student-engaged, you know. It was never a place where professors were here, students were there, kind of thing, but where faculty and students had sort of a commonality of interests all the time. And I remember as a … when I came back to, when I came to the faculty in 1966, I was very pleasantly amazed at how close you could be with your students, and how engaged in the whole process faculty and students were. When I was a student, it was somewhat like that too, but it just seemed to have grown quite significantly, and one of the great things about that growth was history, because after World War II and in the 1950’s and 60’s, students’ engagement in activities and issues and so on began to increase. Just as the veterans at Oberlin increased, you know, student involvement and so on, later, the student protest movements, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Civil Rights Movement was fantastic. Black Power Movement at Oberlin College, Black Power Movement. The, oh gosh what’s the other one I want to speak about, um, Women’s Rights Movement, very strong, very strong. So that post-World War II period was a period that stimulated change. And the period in the 50’s and 60’s was even more pronounced because it was national student movements. And those student movements were phenomenal. And here at Oberlin we were in the middle of the Black Power Movement (? Check accuracy of words here) and being at Oberlin in the 60’s, late 60’s, uh, I came in ’66 … I was the second Black – then we called it Negro, if you had called me Black back then I’d punch you – but I was the second Black faculty member at Oberlin College. The first one was Wade Ellison (?sp)in Mathematics, who was from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and whom I got to know back when I went, I got my degree and went to Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, I had a place to stay because he had a house over on Woodland Street, and he gave me a place to stay here didn’t you know. So that period was a period of change throughout the country, and a very, very important period for Oberlin College.
A: So when you arrived in 1966, did you join, at that time, the Educational Planning and Policies Committee?
Q: Well, one thing that Oberlin had that most other institutions didn’t have at the time was what we called Faculty Governance. We didn’t simply listen to what the President and the Dean, and what the Administration said all the time because we had our own influences built into the system. And, the Educational Plans and Policies Committee, are you familiar with that?
Q: The Faculty Council. These things were important committees for establishing policy in different areas, policies in different areas. And when I became a faculty member I’d had unusual experiences in Africa and Europe. And, of course I was a Michigander, and Michigan had a great reputation. And of course I was an Oberlinian. So, and I was a veteran, see, which means I was a little bit older than most students of my, you know, my generation, and so my experiences were rather, if you’ll pardon my immodesty, rather impressive. But it was also a time when the college was very, very much interested in its own commitment to diversity. And, there weren’t many Negro students at the time. But, the commitment was there, just as the commitment was there for encouraging student activity. And I’ll always remember, I was elected to the College Faculty Council, I was elected to the Educational Plans and Policies Committee, and maybe to one or two other committees, but those two were the big ones. And I’ll always remember some of our discussions at Educational Plans and Policies, about student initiatives in all of these political areas and social areas. And the question was not far away: Why not educational areas? So I can’t be specific, but I do know that during that period in the 60’s, and 70’s but certainly the 60’s, when student activity and sense of student influence and importance grew like mad, with student activity, and I don’t remember exactly when we started the student, the student … what’s it called, the Policy Committee?
A: The student version of the Educational Planning and Policy Committee…the EPC…
Q: I don’t remember exactly, but I think I was on the Board when we started that thing, because the idea was, why not have a formal way of using student influence rather than just sort of, student committees here and student committees there. So Educational Plans and Policies Committee became a faculty-initiated way of bringing students more into the whole process.
A: That’s fascinating, because at exactly that time, when the Student EPPC was, when those students who were sitting on the EPPC advocated for the creation of the Experimental College.
A: Because, um, I know that the vote to create it also kind of probationary, the same way that the co-ops got started, happened in June of 1968.
Q: I don’t remember, but I wouldn’t be surprised. But I could go through, you have tons of records out here, and I could go through some of them.
A: I can double-check that too, also,yeah.
Q: Very good, yeah.
A: But do you remember though, what some of the students were advocating for when it came to educational initiatives?
Q: Well, one of the things that put me quite in the center of everything was that the African-American students wanted a sort of educational plan of their own put into force. And they wanted recognition that the college had no way of giving them directly other than as simply students and etcetera. And the effort that students began to ask for, the African-American students began to ask for was the establishment, first of all, of an educational program in African-American Studies. And being the only African-American professor at the time, I had a key role – no way for me to avoid it. But I wouldn’t avoid it anyway. And so that was a very, very important student initiative. And not only did they want to have a study program, but also a living space. Now that was more controversial, because one of the great men of our time, George Eaton Simpson (?sp), professor of sociology, a good friend of mine, the man who was responsible more than anyone else, I think, for my coming to the faculty, George Simpson was very, very much supportive of an educational…an African-American educational program, department or whatever. But when the students began to ask for a house, African-American House, he almost fainted, because he saw this as some segregation thing. And remember, segregation was still very strong in that period, and for African-American students to sort of put themselves aside from the rest of the community, he did not want that to happen. And I was not terribly excited about it myself. I didn’t oppose it, but I just was very ambivalent about it. Because I thought then, and I still think, that the key to so much success is not for people to be separate, but to find ways to engage each other, groups, in, collective, peaceful community-oriented actions. And, so I was not excited about that but I supported it, but he, George Simpson, opposed it. And the faculty and administration accepted it, sort of on an experimental basis but just simply accepted it. And of course it’s going like mad now and we still have it; it’s a big thing. So other student initiatives were occurring all the time, and I think that’s one factor which caused the Educational Plans and Policies Committee to think of an Experimental College where students could have a more formal input into a lot of the policies that affect their lives and their education.
A: And what I found was interesting, so the Program in African-American Studies got its start in 1968?
Q: I’m sorry, I don’t remember the exact date.
A: OK, I think it’s ’68 or ’69…
Q: OK, Uh huh.
A: …and ExCo got its start in fall of ’68. And at the very beginning of ExCo, there were a number of classes, ExCo classes, in their for-credit kind of section, that were focused on African-American culture.
A: Although they … it’s interesting what you were saying, that you would’ve punched someone if they called you Black, they all, even in 1968, they were using that term, so, you know, there was a course called Black Intellectual Thought, and there was another one called Are You Experienced? A Discussion on Contemporary Black Life, then there was Black Theater, Writing Workshop for Blacks, that’s 1970, a bunch of kind of Black music-oriented classes, …
A: …and I was wondering, what kinds of courses were offered in the African-American Studies department early on. What – it wasn’t a department really, it was a program.
Q: Program, it was a program…
A: Yeah, so a program, meaning that the professors came from other departments, but would teach courses oriented toward African-American Studies?
Q: Basically that. Let me go back to the Black and Negro thing.
Q: Um … I think, back in that period, one way of denigrating and insulting Negroes was to call them “You black son of a bitch” kind of thing, you know, but black, black, black. So that most African-American people really did not want to be called Black. But something happened during this period of student uprisals. Remember I spoke earlier about the Student Organization for Black Power. Black Power. Black began to come in as an acceptable term in a way it had not been before. And being black was no longer insulting as it had been for so many of us as we were younger. And I think the … on campus, the Black Power thing just made all the difference, very, very much. Very much. Now, the idea of having a Department of Black Studies or whatever like this, didn’t go over well, but the program became the emphasis. And the program would not only have special faculty, but also faculty from other regions of the college. For example, Sociology. If I wanted to teach a course that involved Black Studies, kind of thing, I could. I didn’t though, but I could have done so, and I think that kind of thing was very, very key to that period, very much so. So, even today, Black Studies is not a department, I don’t think, is it? It’s a Program.
A: It’s now called Africana Studies, I’m pretty sure.
Q: Yeah, OK, uh huh, uh huh.
A: … and Diasporic. Africana and Diasporic Studies.
A: So I think that the idea is that it transcends just African-American, and it’s sort of more global…
A: …I think, that’s my understanding at least.
A: But I think it’s still a program, not a department.
Q: OK, uh huh.
A: But yeah, the, uh, … so when it was a program, do you recall kind of other professors who were involved? Were there History professors who would teach history of the African-American experience, or what kinds of, um …
Q: Well, I can’t be specific about this because I, um …
Q: It’s so long ago, it’s hard to be specific about a lot of these things, but my general understanding is that professors who were for African-American Studies were brought into different departments, and, in their own department, they would connect it with the program in African-American Studies. That was my recollection of that. And, as a result, much would be centered on African-American House, and the, sort of the collection of African-American culture on campus. But I think the appointments were in different departments.
A: Another thing I kind of found interesting about looking at these courses in ExCo: they seemed to taper off around 1978 or so. And I wonder if you would speculate if that had anything to do with the growing strength of other programming for African-American students, where maybe they felt that there was something else going on, they didn’t need ExCo as much, or… I wasn’t sure if there was a reason for that. And I can put it in the context of a lot of these other movements … seem to have a strong appearance in ExCo, and then once there is a program or a department, they seem to be less seriously entrenched in ExCo. You might get some specific course, you know, on, say Langston Hughes, because they wanted to focus really on Langston Hughes and not just on all of Harlem Renaissance poetry or something. But, so these other programs, like, there were a number of Feminist and Women’s Studies courses in ExCo prior to, I think, the creation of the program…
A: And even the Environmental Studies stuff…
Q: Uh huh
A: … more recently. Do you think that that makes sense, is that … or do you think I’m thinking in the wrong direction there?
Q: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to be specific about a lot of this, because I haven’t been that close to it for so long.
A: But you did work with … I guess you were familiar with the experience of the African-American students on campus?
Q: Oh, very much so.
Q: But you know, I think that, for the African-American students, the big difference was in the African-American House. That was the center of activity. Not department, see, there was no department to be a center of activity, but there was a house to be a center of activity, and so much cultural stuff, and maybe – I’m sorry I can’t be specific about this – but maybe some educational stuff, focused on that house and around that house, and, uh…I’m starting to think, now is there anything specific about little programs that were educationally connected at African-American House that were so important, and I’m sorry I … see, the interesting thing is that once African-American House was going well, and my interests were expanding in other ways, I didn’t keep up with what was happening closely, but I kept my own interests going like mad. So that I’m a traveler, as I told you, and so I was constantly on the move, but also doing my own intellectual and sort of, uh, social, activities of my own. So I didn’t keep up … once the…once the goal had been reached of having campus-wide administration and student etc., etc., recognition of the importance of African-American students and programs and African-American House and so on, I didn’t feel nearly the need to push myself into this as I had earlier, because things were being established earlier. So I went in many directions of my own, but supported it, but not out front.
A: Right. Well then, moving to a slightly different kind of focus, we talked a little bit about what the educational environment was like when you were a student at Oberlin, once you were a professor and there was this sort of groundswell of student activism, did the character of Oberlin’s classes start to change? Did you notice that there were more discussions and fewer that were just lecture oriented, or did you change the way you taught over time at Oberlin?
Q: Not particularly. Not particularly, because I, I was always very, very much student-engaged. And I was a lecturer, but lecturing and discussions were combined always. And I can’t speak for Oberlin generally in this regard, because I … different professors had different approaches or tactics indeed for their classes. But I was very, very anx … determined is a better way of putting it, very determined to have student engagement in my lectures, through discussion, through questioning, uh, and I’d ask them questions, get them engaged. So I, I won’t try to brag about my modesty, (Laughs), but anyway, a lot of (____?) students who appreciated this, and I say this because I got the word from so many students, about my approach to teaching, which is not simply to lecture and to demand this and that and so on of students but to get students engaged in the process, very much so. So I can’t speak for general Oberlin teaching practices or lecturing practices or classroom practices or so on, because every professor had his or her own sort of approach to this, and was respected for their own approach. So that’s the best I can say.
A: Sure, no, of course, I mean you can mostly, you can speak to your own experience. And as a world traveler and sociologist, to what extent did you engage students with, kind of issues in the wider world while you were, in the beginning and as you gained more kind of international experience?
Q: A great deal, because I had so many different kinds of experiences, and so many pictures that I could draw upon, and particularly, bringing in things about Africa. Very, very much, very, very much. I got to know 2 countries in Africa very well: Nigeria and Kenya. In fact, in Kenya, oh gosh, here I go … the president, … see, Kenya got its independence from colonialism in 1963, and I was there as a guest of the president, because I knew him well (Laughs). December the 12, 1963. Uh, Jomo Kenyatta, Jomo Kenyatta was the president, and I got to know him very well, and I have good pictures of him and his mansion and all that stuff. So I had so much to draw upon that was comparative. For example, one of my … two of my big focuses in my sociology courses and teaching and so on, were social movements and cultural change. Social movements … and of course in Africa, social movements were everywhere you know, particularly during the time of throwing off independence (sic). And of course, as a researcher, I was studying social movements. I mentioned earlier street children. Well, when countries began to get their independence from colonialism, one of the first things they did was to u … to have … oh what’s the word I want to use… Well, in Kenya, they … no, in Nigeria, Nigeria, they made primary education compulsory and free, so that kids became educated in the rural areas and so on, and wanted to move to the city. But they didn’t know anything about education, so they thought a primary education was Education. So my research was, as I said, street children. So many would leave the villages and the farms, and go into the city, because they were educated, and of course it was tragic for so many of them. And the Ford Foundation asked me if I would do them a favor, because I was in Nigeria, which is on the western part of the continent, and they wanted me to go to Kenya and begin to do some studying of a new school that had been established for street children in Nairobi, the capital, and I … with the Ford Foundation and I said “Hell, yes!” because how could I resist them, you know? Also, that was a great opportunity. So I began to get sort of a leave of absence from the Research Center and the University of ___? in Nigeria, and I would fly across the continent at the expense of the Ford Foundation to Nairobi, Kenya, to do a study of the Stare’e (?sp) Youth Center. Stare’e Youth Center in Nairobi. Fantastic experiences, really!
A: And you brought some of your experience and your research findings back to your students at Oberlin?
Q: To say the least, to say the least, yes, right. Because, see, students had no concept of Africa, except that it was a strange continent, you know, “all these different Black people” kind of attitude. And of course South Africa was better-known, but they had Apartheid, and a whole bunch of things, you know. So expanding, trying to expand the vision of students, to go beyond just their local world of the US or village or whatever. And look at Africa, look at England, because I was very strong in England, see, I spent a lot of time in England, studying at the University of London, but also, oh gosh, what did I want to say, um … well anyway, I traveled a lot in England, and Scotland, and a little bit in Ireland, not much but a lot in Scotland, being a McQueen, so I had a lot to compare things with, you know, very much.
A: Yeah, and in a Sociology class, you know, having that wider experience enables the drawing of more varied conclusions, or, sort of, universal conclusions? I’m curious about that.
Q: Well, I think in teaching, there were many, many propositions that one could come up with, or points of view that one could come up with, but then having all these examples became key. So many examples, very much so.
A: That’s great. Well, let’s see, I think that we’ve covered a lot of the elements of kind of the period in the history that, you know, I wanted to ask you about. Did we skip over anything that you think is important to talk about with regards especially to the educational environment at Oberlin?
Q: Well, not necessarily. But I think one thing that people need to be aware of is that an institution is always in development. An institution is here, and a lot of people think, well, oh that’s it, that’s Harvard, that’s Michigan, or whatever. But the times are changing, and the institutions are changing all the time. And that, I’m very, very struck with when I think about Oberlin. Very , very struck with. World War II made all the difference, all the difference. And of course, trying to desegregate things, and trying to bring minority people into the center of life and this kind of thing, fantastically difficult struggle. So I think that generalizations about an institution, about a situation, have to be seen constantly in the context of a changing world, constantly in that context. And, Oberlin College when I was a teacher here, from 1966 to ’95, was a very different world I’m sure from what it is now. I can’t say what it is now, because I’m not in it, now, in the way I was, see, but things change all the time.
A: Do you think that Oberlin was well-suited because of its culture, to coping with change that was moving on this sort of national level? You talked about, especially, so starting with the veterans of World War II, and then the rising tide of student movements. Do you think that Oberlin had, kind of an established, in some ways, listening culture, where it was easier than maybe some other places, for movements to kind of take hold, and create change?
Q: Well, you know I have to make some conditions, put some conditions in here. One of the very, very key parts of all of this is leadership. Having a President who has the kind of sensitivities and the kind of interest and the kind of visions of the evolution of the institution, that is so key, so key. Now, since I’ve been a student at Oberlin way back in the 40’s, I don’t know how many Presidents we’ve had. I could name a lot of them though – well I could tell you we’ve had several who were totally out of it, totally out of it. In fact, I’m trying to think now what is his name, he came from New Hampshire I think, oh gosh, what was his name … the president who had no sense of Oberlin, how to provide leadership for Oberlin. And the same thing with Deans. Deans are so important in all of this.
A: I know that there was a fair amount of student conflict, I think with President Carr? (?sp)
Q: Oh, Carr!
Q: You got it, you got it. My gosh, you’re smart. (Laughing) Now he was a guy whom I thought was going to be a good president, because he had a background in research and race relations, this kind of thing, you know, but boy, was he out of it totally. He had no sensitivity to student movements and so on, a lot of things. And I’ll always remember his calling the police when students were protesting out at the President’s House. Ridiculous man, you know, really! But get my point though. The kind of leadership an institution has becomes very key, and not only leadership for principles, but also responding to eccentricities of different parts of that institution. And eccentricities can apply not only to faculty but students as well, you know. But Carr was out of it. And uh, Fred Starr (?sp) was trying in some ways, but he never quite made it, as far as I could see. And I can think about other people as well, but that’s a key factor to me, the kind of leadership, and President and Deans.
A: Yeah, well, I spoke earlier today with George Langeler, who was the Dean of Students…
Q: Dean of Students, right.
A: …for (both together) a long time. And it sounded like he often played counterpoint to … in terms of being able to connect well with the students…
A: …to some administrative officials who may have been hard-line or not really well connected.
A: So I guess that that plays a role, you know, the Deans, of each kind of role, versus the President.
Q: Very important, very important, yes, yes. And George Langeler is still here at Kendall. And he’s not great anymore, but he’s doing well. (Laugh)
A: I guess the last question I would ask would be, do you have advice for future generations of students and faculty dealing with times of change, since things keep changing rapidly?
Q: Well, I can’t say advice, but I certainly would suggest one very, very, very important thing. And that is, trying to understand the dynamics of change. Now when I say dynamics of change, I’m not talking about just exactly what’s happening, but how and why is it happening? Uh, with what sort of … group of persons and so on are deeply involved in it? What are their goals? What are they … now when I say goals, people can express goals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s their goals. Because we’re sensitive enough to know that we don’t want to offend too many people, so that sometimes we don’t express our full feelings and objectives in what we’re doing in bringing about change. So I think the dynamics of change becomes very, very key in a kind of a … I should use the word intelligent response to what’s happening in the world. If you don’t understand why it’s happening and how people are setting goals, and what their goals are, and also what their limitations are, and what the conditions that are imposed upon them are. So a whole bunch of things are operative here, and for leadership, I said, remember I said the President and the Deans become very key people, because they set the tone for understanding, for interpreting, for the whole institution. Very key.
A: And that seems, yeah, especially relevant, I would say, I mean, now a lot of the questions and uncertainty and change are centered around educational models, and in-person versus online, you know, local interaction versus massive, mass-education dissemination, whether, and what the role of these different-sized institutions, you know, the private, the public, places as small as Oberlin or as large as University of Michigan. And I think that some of the, I think that what you’re saying is incredibly important because I think that some people have goals, but the goals might not really be fully reflective of, you know, kind of, a larger goal …
A: …a social goal of education, you know, what role it should play.
Q: One thing I think also, one has to constantly be aware that whatever people’s goals are, whatever their objectives, whatever they’re trying to achieve are, they also have strategies. And strategies can vary fantastically. And, in a complex world, you can’t have a single strategy to take care of this, if you want to succeed. You’ve got to have a more complicated and complex strategy. So not only understanding what their goals are and what they’re trying to achieve and why they’re trying to achieve it and so on, but the kind of strategic indices they are exercising in searching for those goals. So it’s a complex business.
A: Right. And that’s interesting because that relates back to some of what we were talking about, about the African-American presence on campus, where it was multi-pronged in terms of strategy, you know. There were ExCo classes, there was a program, there was a House, and how they all fit together, and how they interacted with the larger community, you know. Would the House have more outreach-type activities, would it, you know, be open to everybody, or would it be… you know, how does that relate to, kind of, safe spaces…
A: … All that. You know, I think that that definitely relates to this over-arching…
Q: Yes, certainly.
A: … achievement of …
Q: Certainly, certainly.
A: Yeah. Well, if there’s nothing else that you feel you want to make sure goes on the record,
A: I think I want to thank you for talking with me today.
Q: It was a pleasure, it’s a pleasure.
A: Yeah. Great, well, I’ll flip off our little recording device, and …
Partial Transcript: This is Adina Langer and today is May 23, 2013. I’m here at Kendall at Oberlin with Albert McQueen.
Segment Synopsis: Adina Langer introduces Albert McQueen.
00:00:37 Albert McQueen’s Education
Partial Transcript: I graduated from high school in Newport News, Virginia and went to Virginia State College for a year and a half before joining the Army, to get GI Bill.
Segment Synopsis: Albert McQueen discusses his education and the reasons he decided to attend Oberlin College after serving in the United States Army.
Keywords: GI Bill, 1946, For Dix, New Jersey, interracial, Virginia State College, Cornell, Antioch, Oberlin, 1940s, segregation, work-study, 1833, 1830s, women, Burton Hall
Subjects: Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, Virginia State College, Cornell University, Antioch College, Oberlin College
00:03:32 Albert McQueen’s Oberlin Student Experience
Partial Transcript: Well, the thing that was so striking about it to me, and I assume the other students, was the attention that the administration and the faculty gave you as young persons, developing young persons.
Segment Synopsis: McQueen describes his experience attending Oberlin as a young veteran and the movement among students to gain more autonomy and to be treated with more respect by administrators.
Keywords: dormitories, Dean of Students, Dean of Men, Dean of Women, house mother, Burton Hall, veterans, Hyde Park, Tappan Square, Memorial Arch
Subjects: In Loco Parentis, Gender Segregation
00:09:54 Founding the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA)
Partial Transcript: And a number of us were very close to the co-ops. I was on their board, and uh, and I worked in the co-op a lot, and so on, and a number of us got the idea, “Why the heck don’t we just have a student co-op?”
Segment Synopsis: McQueen discusses the movement to found the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association beginning with Pyle Inn, a living and dining co-op.
Keywords: co-ops, Pyle Inn, Grey Gables, Dean of the College, Dean of Women, dormitories, administration, veterans
Subjects: In Loco Parentis, Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA)
00:17:30: Oberlin’s Academic Environment
Partial Transcript: Well the academic environment was Oberlin all the way: tough. But also very caring and very considerate. And very, very student-engaged, you know.
Segment Synopsis: McQueen describes the academic and activist environment at Oberlin during the 1950s and 1960s.
Keywords: 1950s, 1960s, 1966, Vietnam War, Black Power, student engagement, activism, Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights Movement, Negro faculty, Black faculty
Subjects: Oberlin College 1950-1970, Student activism,
Interview Excerpt encoded using TEI Guidelines
Excerpt original timestamp: 00:17:51 – 00:23:35
<TEI xml:lang = “en” xmlns = http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0>
<recording type = “audio” dur = “P5M20S”>
<p> Olympus Digital Voice Recorder WS-321M </p>
<date when= “2013-05-23”>23 May 2013</date>
<name>Albert James McQueen</name>
<u who= “#AJL”>So <pause/>obviously students were learning a lot from their <pause/> their advocacy and their <vocal>uhm</vocal> working together. What was the academic environment like at Oberlin while you were a student?</u>
<u who= “#AJM”> Well the academic environment was Oberlin all the way: tough. But also very caring and very considerate. And very, very student-engaged, you know. <vocal>uh</vocal> It was never a place where professors were here, students were there, kind of thing, <kinesic>thumps table</kinesic> but where faculty and students <vocal>uh</vocal> had <vocal>a-a</vocal> sort of a commonality of interests all the time. And I remember as a <pause/> when I came back to, when I came to the faculty in <date type= “year”>1966</date>, <vocal>uh</vocal> I was very pleasantly amazed at how close you could be with your students, and how engaged in the whole process faculty and students were. When I was a student, it was somewhat like that too, but it just seemed to have grown quite significantly, and one of the great things about that growth was <pause/> history, because <pause/> in the <pause/> after <event>World War II</event> and in the <date from= “1950” to= “1959”> 1950s </date> and <date from= “1960” to= “1969”> 60s </date>, students’ engagement in activities and issues and so on began to increase. Just as the veterans at Oberlin increased, you know, student involvement and so on, <vocal> uh </vocal> later, the student protest movements, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Civil Rights Movement was fantastic. Black Power Movement at Oberlin College, Black Power Movement. <vocal> uhm </vocal> <pause/> The, oh gosh what’s the other one I want to speak about, <vocal> uhm </vocal> <pause/> Women’s Rights Movement, very strong, very strong. So that post-World War II period was a period that stimulated change. And the period in the <date from= “1950” to= “1959”> 50s </date> and <date from= “1960” to= “1969”> 60s </date> was even more pronounced because it was national student movements. And those student movements were phenomenal. And here at Oberlin we were literally the Black Power Movement and being at Oberlin in the <date from= “1960” to= “1969”> 60s </date>, <date from = “1966” to= “1969”> late 60s </date> <vocal> uh </vocal> I came in <date when= “1966-08-01”>’66</date>. I was the only <pause/> well I was the second Black – then we called it Negro, if you had called me Black back then I’d punch you – but I was the second Black faculty member at Oberlin College. The first one was <persName> <forename> Wade </forename> <surname> Ellis </surname> </persName> in Mathematics, who was from <placeName> <settlement type= “city”> Ann Arbor </settlement>, <region type= “state”>Michigan</region> <placeName>, and whom I got to know back when I went, I got my degree and went to <Ann Arbor, <orgName type= “educational”> University of Michigan </orgName>, I had a place to stay because he had a house over on <vocal> uh </vocal> Woodland Street <vocal> uh </vocal> and he gave me a place to stay here didn’t you know. <vocal> laughs </vocal> So <vocal> uh </vocal> that period was a period of change throughout the country, and a very, very important period for Oberlin College. </u>
<u who= “AJL”> So when you arrived in 1966, did you join, at that time, the Educational Planning and Policies Committee? </u>
<u who= ”AJM”> Well, one thing that Oberlin had that most other institutions didn’t have at the time was <pause/> what we called Faculty Governance. We didn’t simply listen to what the President and the Dean, and what the Administration said all the time because we had our own influences built into the system. And, the Educational Plans and Policies Committee, are you familiar with that? </u>
<u who=”AJL”> <vocal> MmHmm </vocal> </u>
<u who=”AJM”> The Faculty Council. These things were <pause/> important committees for <pause/> establishing policy in different areas, policies in different areas. And <vocal> I, I </vocal> when I became a faculty member I’d had unusual experiences in Africa and Europe. And, of course I was a Michigander, and Michigan had a great reputation. And of course I was an Oberlinian. So, and I was a veteran, see, which means I was a little bit older than most students of my, you know, my generation, and so my experiences were rather, if you’ll pardon my immodesty, rather impressive. But it was also a time when <pause/> the college was very, very, very much interested in its own commitment to diversity. And, there weren’t many Negro students at the time. But, the commitment was there, <pause/> just as the commitment was there for encouraging student activity. </u>
The following examples were created by students in the History 8885 class during the in-class TEI workshop.
Interview Excerpt encoded using TEI Guidelines by Julie Renner and Nick Sakas:
Excerpt original timestamp: 00:00:00-00:01:30
<TEI xml:lang = “en” xmlns = http;//www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0>
<recording type = “audio” dur = “P1M30S”>
<p> Sony Digital Voice Recorder M2>
<date when= “2012-10-20>20 Oct 2012</date>
<name>Mr. Patrick Flowers</name>
<u who= “#NJS”> This is Nicholas Sakas. I’m interviewing Mr. Patrick Flowers. It’s Oct. 20, <date type= “year”>2012</date>2012. We are going to be discussing tobacco farming. This is for an oral history project at Georgia State University. I guess the first I would like to ask is just to get <vocal>a, uh, <vocal>just to get <vocal>a a, uh, <vocal> time setting is how, how old are you?
<u who= “#MPF”> 67.
<u who= “#NS”> And how old were you when started working in tobacco?
<u who = “MPF”> <vocal>Hoho<vocal> oh boy, let’s go back. I was born 1945<date type= “year”>1945</date> probably, well I was doing it as young kid <pause/> and it would recollect back to at least I was ten years old is when I helped my father in tobacca. And in that time we probably had maybe five acres of tobacca which was a big tobacca crop <pause/> that we did. And we had an old mule that pulled the drag in the field to prime tobacca or crop tobacca. We called it primin’ tobacca. And I would drive the mule and sled for the primers to put tobacca in the sled. And then we would go from the field when the sled got full we’d go from the field to the barn, bring it to barn for them to put it in the barn. And they would <vocal>uh,<vocal> well back then what we did was had a barn shelter most of the time we didn’t have a shelter we had a, they would call it a bush hog.
HIST 8885 Digital History Kate Daly, John-Joseph Jackson, Susan Prillaman
In-class TEI-encoded Transcription Exercise February 17, 2015
Partial transcription of interview conducted by Kate Daly with Brooks Mitchell on January 26, 2015.
Excerpt original timestamp: 00:00:00 – 00:01:05
<TEI xml:lang = “en” xmlns = http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0>
<recording type = “audio” dur = “P1M05S”>
<equipment> <p> Aspire E 11 Laptop Computer </p> </equipment>
<date when= “2014-01-26”>26 January 2014</date>
<u who= “#KD”>So <vocal>uh</vocal> introduce yourself. What is your name? </u>
<u who= “#BM”>Hey, my name is Brooks Mitchell <vocal>uh</vocal> I’m the programs educator – earth science for the <orgName type= “museum”>Fernbank Museum of Natural History </orgName>.</u>
<u who= “#KD”> <vocal>Um</vocal> and do you ever teach with digital tools at <orgName type= “museum”>Fernbank</orgName> or elsewhere.</u>
<u who= “#BM”><vocal>Um</vocal> so before my work at Fernbank I worked at the <orgName type= “aquarium”>Georgia Aquarium</orgName> I was environmental educator <vocal>uh</vocal> and so we used Promethean boards <vocal>ah</vocal> quite a bit which are these large huge touchscreen boards. We used the ActivInspire software <vocal>uh</vocal> a good bit with that. <vocal>Ah</vocal> we also used iPads in our exhibits. <vocal>Ahm</vocal> and that’s at Georgia Aquarium and also at a different job had right out of college, a local regional history museum. <vocal>Ahm</vocal> we did a few different exhibits utilizing iPads. I’ve only been at Fernbank for a couple of weeks now. <vocal>Uh</vocal> so I do you know use the basic computer software <vocal>ah</vocal> a few with like ticketing things but besides that I haven’t really gotten to utilize a ton of digital tools, I’m sure that will probably change as we get more special exhibits in and more <vocal>ah</vocal> just different presentations and things like that. </u>
Example by Chris Huber and Becky Jordan
<recording type= “audio”>
<date when = 2014-10-31>
<resp> Interviewer</Christiana Huber>
<name> Linda Carnes </name>
<u who=#ch> So, I’m just going to start this recording, my name is <persName> <forename> Christiana </forename> <surname> Huber, </surname> </persName> it is </date> October 31st, 2014, and I am interviewing <persName> <forename> Dr. Linda </forename> <surname> carnes mcnaughton </surname> </persName> about the Marta archaelogy project. <persName type= “phD”> <surname> Dr mcnaughton, </persName type=”phd”> </surname> do I have permission to record you for this interview? <u who=#lc>Yes, you do. <u who=#ch> Alright, wonderful. And now you can tell me because I do want to get to your stories. <u who=#lc> Ok well, I’ll just start with a funny story about my name. Okay. Most of the records I think in the Marta project, at least in the early stages, I think I’m referred to as <persName> <forename> Becky </persName> </forename> because that was my family name, um, when I started at <orgName type= “educational”> Georgia State, I was also called <persName> <forename> becky, </persName> </forename> but the <persName> <surname> Carnes </persName> </surname> part was there, and the hyphenated<persName> <surname> McNaughton part doesn’t come in to the picture until I’m up here in <“region type”=state> North Carolina, so, <laugh/> so you will see Linda Carnes, or <persName> <forename> becky </persName> </forename> <persName> <surname> carnes, </persName> </surname>