How I can help
In the design industry, the craft of interviewing ranges in terminology and expectations: contextual inquiry, ethnographic research, stakeholder and user interviews, for example. They're all based on core questioning, listening, observing and note-taking skills. I will work with you to determine the appropriate scope for what you need.
What you’ll get: Deliverables are project-specific and customized to meet your requirements. They might include, for example, transcripts and Mp3 files (if recorded), a documented summary of findings, or detailed notes and process documentation.
Content audit or literature review
Redesigns of existing websites or printed publications often benefit from a thorough review of the existing material and, if available, user analytics or readership studies. The audit grounds decisions that need to be made about resources and changes in design. Sometimes, it also helps to know what else is out there and what lessons have been learned. I can help conduct the audit or compile the research and prepare it so that it can be used in meetings to guide conversations and get to final decisions.
What you’ll get: Deliverables are project-specific and customized to meet your requirements. They might include a detailed inventory in a spreadsheet, categorized in ways that will help answer questions set out at the beginning of the project. They might also include an accompanying summary of the findings.
Record verification and archival research
I love working with public records. If you are having trouble accessing or navigating a local bureaucracy, I can be of help. I can conduct courthouse and county record research within the Southwestern Pennsylvania region (which includes Allegheny, Lawrence, Beaver, Butler, Armstrong, Indiana, Westmoreland, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties). I am also about three hours from Harrisburg, and will welcome an excuse to dig into records at the commonwealth's capital city.
What you'll get: The requested records and/or an audit trail of what sources were checked and the results.
I also need very little excuse to dive into history and pull dusty record books off the shelves. And I love talking to those who have been there before, with life lessons to share. I work with families to document their stories in a variety of ways.
Oral histories: These in-depth interviews, conducted one-on-one, preserve a person’s story, told in their own words. I’ll draw on background research and, if needed, a few pre-interviews. During the interview, I'll guide the conversation so that personal experiences and perspectives are captured appropriately.
What you’ll get: A transcript and Mp3 recording.
Family records review and organization: Getting started with your own genealogy project can be a daunting task. I’ll help you identify what you have available (this may mean going into your attic and contacting relatives to locate papers and boxes). I'll then help you put together a plan that considers what you have and outlines the next steps in your research. I’ll point you toward appropriate tools and additional sources of information and help you outline questions to ask.
What you’ll get: A documented inventory of what you have to start with and a documented plan for conducting next steps, as well as tip sheets to help you with your research.
Western Pennsylvania name research: Is there a particular person in your family tree you want to learn more about? I’ll conduct an online records search, using census records, newspaper archives and other available digital public records. We’ll start with an initial conversation about what you already know, and I’ll see what else I can dig up.
What you’ll get: A report documenting any findings, as well as an audit trail of what sources were checked and the results.