Friday, September 4, 2009
Starting the Nantucket Audio Tour Project!
I'm blogging this onboard the "slow" ferry to Nantucket, with three of our grad students, as we head out to start our community history project with the African-American community on the island this weekend. Renee at the African American Meeting house/Museum of African American History Museum has kindly set up about five interviews for us over the course of the weekend, which is exciting. I'm really pleased that we'll get to meet members of the Jamaican-American community on the island, whom we are hoping to learn about. We've been reading the fascinating studies of the island's African-American history in Robert Johnson's excellent edited volume. Since this group of grad students (Shasha, Yaxin and Meqging) are all from China, we're also very interested in the accounts we've read of Chinese on the island during the Nineteenth century; we wonder if we'll find a way to include some of their stories on the tour.
One thing we are already wondering about is how best to incorporate music and environmental sound into the audio tour. Isabel Kalenback-Montemayor's fascinating essay in the Johnson volume gives some lines of a ballad composed in honor of Absalom Boston, the African-American captain of the 1832 all-black crew of the whaling ship Industry. We're hoping we can find some singers willing to perform the ballad, set to a plausible tune. We're also hoping to record appropriate maritime sounds, of seabirds, surf and wind to edit into various audio segments.