In spring 2017, UW History alum Ben Green interned with the non-profit organization Skate Like a Girl in Seattle, WA. Read on for Ben's reflections on his time creating a digital archive of the organization's history and click the link above to find out more about the Skate Like a Girl programs!
"The best part of this internship was actually learning more about the culture associated with skateboarding. Exposure to the skateboarding community has definitely changed the way I view different cultures and sports. Without a doubt, my perspective has widened, and my understanding of skateboarding and those who love the sport is far more diversified than what I imagined before beginning with SLAG. This is something I will definitely take with me moving forward in life.
Although I collected and archived physical sources, [we also] interviewed several people who played an important role in Skate Like a Girl's history, and knowing how to conduct the interview to avoid influencing the interviewee was crucial; let me just say it is far more difficult than it looks even after taking HSTRY 494, which touches on these subjects. Furthermore, [determining] how to analyze these oral sources - constructed from the imperfect memories of a variety of people - proved difficult. As historian Paul Thompson argues in his article 'Historical Interpretation of Memory': 'The importance of oral testimony may lie not in its adherence to fact, but rather in its departure from it, as imagination, symbolism, and desire emerge.'
By comparing testimony from multiple sources and our physical archive, we were able to decipher what was likely more or less accurate, and what statements were more heavily impacted by emotion, time, and other circumstances. I discovered just how complex oral history is to compile and interpret."