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 home >> educational resources >> getting started >> publications >> maritime folklife >> part 2

Documenting Maritime Folklife: An Introductory Guide

Part 2: How to Document

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 full 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 of 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.


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   May 15, 2015
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