Research time needed to compose biographical work, life history, and personalized interview questions varies, sometime between five to ten hours, other times more.  From my perspective, biographical research and information retrieval continues from one narrator to the next; however, each narrator must be given equal access to research findings, and their own sound recordings.

Interviewers are wise to acknowledge and learn factual information, secondhand insight, and possibly incorrect memory in order to help compose interview questions. That said, bring conversation to the process rather than journalism style questioning.  If a narrator changes the subject, allow them to explore their story further before asking the next question.

The questions below were created for a CF&I Archives interview.  For more recent interviewee question written in 2018, take a look at the Hope Stories questions list.  Note the difference in style that five years can make, and, also, keep in mind that questions specific to each new narrator will reshape the interview process as projects move forward.

Not all questions are asked, and many more can be added during the interview process. These same lists of questions can easily be reestablished as a template, edited and rewritten, and to asked of narrators elsewhere, and in other fields of work and life history.

21 October 2013
Bessemer Historical Society
CF&I Archives & The Steelworks Museum
Also present

Worked: Coke Plant, Steel Production, Blast Furnace
Years worked
Research request info (if any)

Who were your parents, and what did they do

Do you have family that worked at the mill

Tell what you know about family at Ludlow

What is your first memory of growing up in Pueblo

Hobbies, interests, favorite subjects in school

High school, College, Military service

What is your first memory of CF&I

Where did you work your first year

Did you have a brass check number

Co-workers, Supervisors, Coke Plant routine

Tell me about the process of making Coke
Best / worst tasks

What kinds of machinery or tools did you use

Safety equipment, training, clothing necessary

How do you define Steel Production and the
Job departments required to produce steel

Coworkers, Supervisors, Steel production routine
Machines and tools

How about the Blast Furnace, Who did you work with
What kinds of jobs did you do

What can you tell me about tonnage and compensation

Did you ever participate in time studies

Are you a member of the union

Tell me about grievance procedures and problem solving
between the union and the company

Do you remember any strikes that could have been prevented
Strikes that succeeded

Did you ever go to the dispensary or Saint Mary Corwin

Were you ever injured or harmed while on the job

Tell me about accidents you’ve experienced

What measures did the company, coworkers, supervisors
take to prevent accidents

What kinds of behaviors endangered workers at the mill most

Safety training events, classes and procedures

What was the mill like after an employee was injured or killed
What did the company and the community do to grieve and heal

Tell me about some of the good memories at the mill,

Where did you go for lunch, or for a drink after work
Best restaurant in Bessemer

What jobs have you worked since CF&I

Share a favorite memory of the Mill, CF&I, and Pueblo

What else can we talk about as we conclude the interview

Las Cruces 2018
David Lee

David Lee

creates public history sound recordings, seeks reasonable workflow, and dreams of longterm digital preservation.

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