Before you have a look on our project results, we would like to comment briefly on some methodological and technical issues.
The main method we used during our project was biographical interview conducted according to oral history and qualitative sociology rules. Each interview consisted of phase of free autobiographical narrative and phase of question. Depending on the interviewee, length of the recording varies from about half an hour to about 4 hours. The longest interview were recorded with the representatives of the oldest generation, but sometimes quality of the talk depended also on the personal ability and willingness to speak of the interviewee.
Generally speaking, we didn't encounter any serious problems with convincing people to agree for an interview, especially considering the oldest generation. Except of few cases when people refused because they didn't want to come back to painful past, interviewees were willing to talk with us. The only group that was more resisting were Russians and people from Eastern Ukraine, who were actively supporting the communist system during the Soviet times. Still, we managed to conduct some interviews with members of this group. Another issue were interviews with younger people. Many times people refused to meet with us - because they didn't have time, were afraid of talking about history or didn't trust us as strangers. Convincing these younger people to talk was much harder than in case of their parents or grandparents.
Each interviewee signed specially developed form of "Agreement for the interview", which stated that interviewee agrees for recording and using the material for scholar purposes. Some of the interviewees preferred to sign the form anonymously. In the beginning we wanted to add to each interview contemporary picture of the interviewee, but finally we decided to ask for picture only representatives of the oldest generation. Not all of them agree to be photographed.
Selection of the interviewees happened in two ways. First, we used our personal contacts, asking each interviewee to recommend some others, which resulted in long 'chain' of people knowing each other. Because of small size of the community this method was very successful. Another way were recommendations of the 'important people' from Zhovkva (teachers, priests, museum employees), who pointed out people from specific groups: born in Zhovkva before 1939, settlers from the villages, settlers from Eastern Ukraine, Ukrainians deported from Poland or Russian military officials.
Including several interviews that were recorded before our project officially started, we gathered more than 60 interviews, among them about 40 - with representatives of the oldest generation. All interviews were recorded on high-quality digital sound recorders and digitalized. About 20 of them were fully or partially transcribed, which enabled us to prepare concise compilations of "Family histories" or "Problem presentation".
While presenting extracts from the interviews in the "Family histories" and other documents published on the web site, we decided to use only first names of the interviewees.
download Some methodological comments