Meeting #6 08/08/2016


  • Lecture from Dr. Jesse Mumm on  The Latin American Migration to Chicago
  • Follow up on questions with geneticist Kerry Cochrane on how to use search engines to investigate public family records.

Lecture Notes from Dr. Mumms Lecure:

  • First mixed peoples of Chicago were the Metis (mixed French and Native)
  • 1900’s saw great labor migrations: The Great Migration and subsequent labor recruitment of different immigrant groups depending on the need of the US for labor

Two key concepts when thinking of our ancestors (and our) life choices:

    • Agency v. Structure

→ Culture v. Political-Economy

→ Personal Experience v. Cultural, Economic, Political, Social Experiences

  • So when we interview our relatives we need to balance what their personal experiences are and what was happening on the macro-level
  • Also, this concept helps us know that there may be societal expectations and cultural ones but that people often defy the norms. (i.e. women who smoke)

Research questions/ historical questions:

  • There are some big questions that you might want to ask your relatives. (i.e. Did the Irish see themselves as “white” upon arrival?) However, you probably do not want to ask your relatives directly about those big sociological questions about race. But there are kinds of questions that you can get ask that will solicit their stories that address your big question about race.
  • How you ask a question will determine what kind of stories you are going to get.
  • So instead you can ask questions about race, like:
    • Where did you live? Describe that place? Were most of your friends X (ie. Mexican/ Latinxs). Did you have friends that were not Spanish-Speaking? Where did you hang out and with who? What was the neighborhood like / feel like when you walked around it in 19xx?
    • Gender-based ones: Where did you work? What was that like? Did other women do that work?
  • What are some examples of bad questions: Yes/No questions, short-answer questions are horrible.
  • Good question form: Not yes/no or short answer. Not too general and not too specific.  Ask questions that ask you a story: Tell me about when….
  • Content: you want to ask questions that get your information you need, gets at core issues, and productivity *questions that get you to many kinds of answers.
    • “After you had your first two children, what concerned you the most?” (Jesse interviewing his grandma).
    • “Walk me through the day that xxx happened”
    • “Walk through me a day in your life when you were 25?”
    • “You tell me about a lot of the rancho, take me through the house, room by room.”
    • “Was it possible to get a job in management in those times?”
    • “What was it like to live in the second neighborhood compared to your first?”
    • You want questions about personal information, family, household, education, work
  • What’s a kind of story your family will not talk about?
    • You can ask: “What was life like before or after?”
  • Tricks of the Trade:
    • “Claiming ignorance” – saying you don’t know the story, or you want to hear about it from their point of view. “I don’t know what that’s about can you explain that to me?”
    • Express interest. I really want to know this.
    • Restating: INCORPORATING their words into your later questions.
    • Don’t interrupt them. Don’t over-explain what you know–let them tell you their experience.
    • Affirmations: let them know you are listening and that you are feeling them. You are part of the conversation, so let them know you are with them.


  • [We went over an interview with Arthur & Tamara Griffin – a couple who have lived for a very long time in Garfield Park in order to see how we can get to race /structural issues without directly asking the question in those overly academic ways].
  • Take 5 minutes to write down 3 basic questions that are open ended questions for a Latinx person living in Chicago?
    • What was the neighborhood like when you first arrived in 1965?
    • I love your food, I wonder what was it like for you to find food you liked to eat when you first came?
    • Who did you work with and what was your experience like with management?
    • Growing up how was your neighborhood like? What do you think about the changes? What do you miss?

Taking Notes / Documentation of your interviews:

  • Quotation: Direct, exact, word-for-word transcription. “ “
  • Paraphrasing: general ideas, accurate summary, in your own words. (….)
  • Jottings: ideas, places, dates, words, names, objects.

A note on “Dangerous Neighborhoods:

  • Some research demonstrates that Gentrifying hoods become more dangerous-

Ethics on researchers:

  • Some people are proud of what they’re saying and want their name
  • Some people want to be noted as a pseudonym (i.e. Exotica Jones)
  • Nameless – they want what they’re words noted but no identifying markers.
  • Redacted – they don’t want what they said to be shared at all!
  • Informed consent: the person knows you’re doing an interview and what it is for; and where this will be shared (scholarly articles, grant reports, blogs, perhaps a book, exhibits)

[Read the “Belmont Report – Summary on the Principles Relevant to the Protection of Human Subjects in Research].