Documenting Maritime Folklife: An Introductory Guide
Part 2: How to Document
After You Leave the Field
Upon the completion of fieldwork, researchers should move on to the business
of cataloging and analyzing the data that has been collected. This work,
some of which should have already been accomplished in the field, includes
such tasks as cataloging tape recordings and photographic materials, and
evaluating the body of field data. If analysis reveals that some critical
item of information was not collected, it may be necessary to return to
the field to obtain it.
Another post-fieldwork activity is the preparation
of field data for a repository. This includes proper identification,
cataloging, and packaging
of all materials in accordance with the repository's standard procedures.
If duplicate copies of tape recordings or other materials are required
by project researchers, it may be advantageous to make them before the
originals are placed in a repository since some repositories may not
be equipped to handle this chore after the materials have been turned over.
It is important to work closely with repository personnel to insure that
materials are prepared in a manner most conducive to preservation and
use by other researchers.
Fieldworkers should express their appreciation
to individuals who have assisted with the project. Face-to-face expressions
of gratitude are appropriate,
as are thank-you letters on letterhead stationery. If photography and
sound recording have been important parts of documentation efforts, copies
photographs and taped interviews make suitable gifts for people who have
been helpful. If a publication, exhibit, or film results from the project,
acknowledge the assistance of local residents in print. Besides being
of common courtesy, the way that fieldworkers express their gratitude will
likely influence the level of cooperation accorded any future researchers.
It is always a sound practice to keep people in the study area informed
about the project. In particular, those from whom information has been
collected should be kept abreast of plans for the use of the materials.
If some product will result--article, book, exhibit--find ways to share
it with them.