Read transcripts of oral histories
In the Spring of 2002 David Guss, Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University and curator of the Lost Theatres of Somerville exhibit, taught a seminar at Tufts titled "Theatres of Community and the Social Production of Space," which explored issues of place, community, and popular entertainment in urban settings. Coordinted by Tufts teaching assistant and graduate student Cathy Stanton, undergraduates in this seminar partnered with students from Somerville High School, under the direction of Joe Burke of the social studies department.
The group was trained in interviewing techniques by faculty and other experienced interviewers. Identifying informants via personal contacts in the Somerville community, the Somerville Historical Society, friends and neighbors at Tufts, and visits to several seniors' centers in the city, the teams spoke with theatre owners, theatre workers, neighbors and audience members.
Each student team focused on a specific theatre or group of Somerville neighborhood theatres and conducted more than sixty five oral histories of Somerville residents about their neighborhood theatres. Students designed their own final projects, which ranged from an architectural study of the Central Theater to a documentary film about the Union Square theatres to an essay exploring theatre choice among residents of Ball Square. At the end of the project, students, interviewees, faculty, and friends shared a lively evening of student presentations on the Tufts campus. That gathering, and the interviews themselves, reflect the continued vitality and community spirit of the city of Somerville throughout the many changes of the past century.
The oral histories presented here were conducted by Stephan Lukac and formed part of his video presentation in the exhibit. Additional transcriptions of interviews conducted by other members of the project are to be found in the Tufts Digital Archives. The links below will bring you to them.
Generosa Aiello Interview, April 5, 2003 [sound text]