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This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Locating Information About Individuals

Collection Date: March 10, 2009
Scholar #1 Info: (if more than one scholar's process is described, copy this set for each scholar)

  • Name: Sue Schweik
  • Email:
  • Title: Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, Professor of English
  • Institution/Organization: UC Berkeley
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: Disability Studies

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Rich Meyer
  • Email:
  • Title: Project Bamboo Program Manager
  • Institution/Organization: University of California, Berkeley
  • Name: Connor Riley
  • Email:
  • Title: Graduate Student Researcher, School of Information
  • Institution/Organization: University of California, Berkeley

Notes on Methodology:

The collectors recorded this interview; delineated various workflows discussed in the interview and wrote them using quotes from the interview. These were then reviewed and edited by the interviewee before being posted.


The scope section is provided by the collector, with input from the scholar(s), and attempts to estimate the scope of the group that performs the processes described: How broadly do the practices described in this narrative apply to others in same field, in related fields, etc?

  1. In the opinion of the scholar, who participates in the process the story describes?
    (e.g. "just this scholar", "many people in the scholar's field of inquiry", "all academics", etc.)
  2. What is this process intended to accomplish for the scholar?
  3. Who is the intended audience of the processes described?
  4. Is this the only process the scholar uses to accomplish his/her goals?
  5. What "shared services" would help transform the story into something of more benefit for the scholar or his/her audience?  What process or processes in the story could be automated?


Please provide some keywords that will allow us to group or cluster related stories--or aspects of stories.

1. Was this story collected for a particular Bamboo working group?  If so, please include, as keywords, the appropriate group(s).

  • Education
  • Institutional Support
  • Scholarly Networking
  • Shared Services
  • Scholarly Narratives
  • Tools and Content Partners

2. Suggested keywords: Does this narrative contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones and briefly describe the mapping.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

3. Please list additional keywords here:


In the course of my historical research, I often come across references to people whose work or life stories may promise either to inform my current research in some way or to provide the subject of new work. Many of these people were poor and disabled; their lives were not systematically archived, except, perhaps, in case files of social workers or charity organizers.  Others were relatively better known at the same but have since been forgotten. There is often very little information easily available on these people; finding the information I require can easily become a major undertaking. 
The first avenues of inquiry into a particular person will usually be to follow citations in the work where I first found a reference to him or her. I look for related scholarly works, in university libraries or by using online services like Jstor. If the person is likely to have surviving relatives, I can also research and try to contact them for interviews. 
But in the event that these methods do not turn up the information I'm looking for, I may have to devise new search techniques somewhat outside the scope of standard scholarly research. The Google News Archive has been a somewhat useful tool for finding obscure news coverage in local papers, but it often requires payment in order to see the articles turned up by a search. Genealogical websites are a good source of information and are often quite powerful tools, but I know relatively little about how best to use them, and some require payment. Searching historical archives in libraries nearer to where a person lived may provide more information, but if local libraries have no online catalog I will either have to try having a librarian act as my search proxy or fly to the location to visit the library. 
Tailoring my search techniques will likely result in my having to use unusual resources in even more unusual ways. In the case of one person who wrote booklets of poetry she sold on the street, I used the web listings of antiquarian booksellers to discover who might have copies of her work. And when doing research on the situation of disabled people who (among other means of livelihood) sold pencils on street corners, I tried (unsuccessfully) to track down nineteenth-century American pencil manufacturers who may have kept records of distributors.


One tool that sounds as though it would be useful for my inquiries would be one that allows me to build models of the connections between people. If I could both specify information about a person's name, background, personal relationships, etc, and have the tool use digital data sources to discover more connections between people, it would help me keep track of information I'd discovered and reduce the burden of searching for new information.

Being able to conduct more spatially-constrained searches would also help me. Just as being able to search in a historical newspaper's archive helps spatially limit the returned documents, I'd like to be able to specify the geographic area to search for among a larger body of documents.

Other Comments:

The information below was comprised when transcribing the interview, to make sure pieces were not missing.  If it is unhelpful, please disregard.


Identify person of interest while researching 
Explore any citations in the work 
Identify surviving relatives or people connected to the person 
Use digital search tools to discover more information 
Identify sources of information uniquely tailored to the person and search within them 

Ingredients: Tools and Content

Rare book and manuscript archives 
Surviving relatives 
Oral history collections 
Google search 
census records 
American Antiquarian Booksellers 
genealogical websites 
Google News Archive of historical newspapers



Example Link