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A-V Barn: Oral History of Illinois Agriculture

People's Choice:
1 vote
Illinois State Museum
In House

The A-V Barn presents over 300 hours of audio and video interviews with a wide variety of people engaged in some aspect of agriculture. There are over 130 interviews, some archival dating back to the 1970s, and some conducted in 2007-2009 for this project.

The innovative aspect of the site lies in the subject indexing that was done for the interviews. Each interview is divided in many shorter clips. Each clip is summarized and tagged with keywords. These keywords are then available in a faceted search page, with facets for: People, Plants, Land, Animals, Dates, and Places. This method allows the researcher to rapidly filter down specific portions of the interviews, and then hear or see that portion of the interview.

Oral historians generally do not rely on the actual interview tapes for their research, but rather use written transcripts. This site allows the the researcher to quickly get to parts of the interview, bringing the voice back to oral history. To our knowledge, this site is the first Web-available instance of a fully-searchable indexed set of interviews which can bring the researcher to targeted portions of an interview.

Nominated By: 
ESchroeder's picture

Among our new interviews we had two that expressly focused on migrant workers. The interviews were related (both from St Clair county) and consist of a migrant worker, and a man who manages the migrant works for the orchard.

Among the older interviews there are very few references to migrant workers--more for hired hands. But no interviews with those hired hands. The interview process tends to self filter for individuals who have stayed in a place for a long time.

According to one web site*, there are upwards of 32,000 migrant and seasonal workers in Illinois agricultural jobs. So such people are an important part of the picture, particularly on the non-corn-and-soybean farms.