Students Conduct Interviews to Supplement Abbot Archives

Pen, paper and iPhone in hand, Benjamin Yi ’14 sat attentively and curiously as he listened to an Abbot alumna recount her high school experience. Yi, along with various Andover students, faculty and staff made the long trek down to Davis Hall last Saturday to participate in an oral history training session as part of last weekend’s Coed@40 celebration. At the event, Maureen Doyle and Charlene Martin, representatives of the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project, an educational organization that aims to raise awareness on the daily lives of women, trained participants on how to conduct proper oral history interviews. After the initial training, Andover participants began to interview various Abbot alumnae, recording their conversations to later be compiled into the Andover Archives to help fill holes in the currently incomplete Abbot Archives. With oral histories, the Archives will have a more complete picture of Abbot life during the 20th century. The interviews highlighted the day-to-day experiences of both Abbot and Andover students, ranging from their dining experiences to where they went when they were sick. “Stories are really important to understanding a system as a whole. Those experiences are also very temporary, so if you don’t get them while they’re here, they’ll soon disappear forever and you will never be able to know of that experience,” said Katherine Vega ’14, who attended the event. “Especially now, at a time where we’re celebrating 40 years of coeducation we are still wondering whether or not girls are equals on this campus, it’s important to see what life was like then and compare that to where we are now,” she continued. The Brace Center hopes to conduct more oral histories of Abbot alumnae in the future, using students and community members to enhance the archival record of Abbot Academy. The Brace Center will achieve this goal through the Brace Research Fellows, a group of students conducting projects on Abbot Academy and its merger with Andover in honor of Coed@40. The Brace Center and Andover Archives will collaborate in hopes of remembering Abbot’s legacy. The Brace Research Fellows are Meera Bhan ’14, Rachel Murree ’14, Rani Iyer ’15 and Ben Yi ’14.