Service Industry Oral History in a Time of Crisis.

For the last several years, the students in Dr. Nystrom’s “Documentary and Oral History” course have interviewed individuals who work in New Orleans’s service industry. We have interpreted this broadly to include the thousands of people who make the city’s tourism economy work, starting with waitstaff, kitchen workers, chefs, bartenders, and hosts. We have expanded this to include people working in hotels, coffee shops, and tour guides.

To engage in broad understatement, this semester has been different. We are now tasked at Loyola with finishing our course from roughly its halfway point entirely online. With that in mind we’ve had to change a key part of our methodology – that is in-person filmed or audio recorded interviews.

Our plan is now for students to conduct and record interviews via Skype. If you are someone who thinks that you fit the generous profile of a “service industry” worker and would like to be interviewed by a Loyola student enrolled in this course for a 40 minute to one hour-long interview about your work experiences, then you are encouraged to contact Studio Director Justin Nystrom at

Obviously the current pandemic will probably figure into your interview (though this is not a condition of being interviewed). Interviewees are encouraged to share as much as they think they would like to go on the record. These interviews are public in nature.

How does this work?

Once you have volunteered, you will be contacted by a student to schedule a Skype interview. This will occur between the second and third week of April.

What will you need from me?

  • About an hour of your time
  • A good still picture or selfie of yourself
  • A signed release form allowing us to archive and share your interview (Although a scanner is ideal, we can transfer this with a jpeg photo of a signed form from your phone.)

What happens to this interview after it is recorded?

Each student has been tasked with transcribing your interview, archiving it in the Studio’s Zotero library, and creating a WordPress post that shares your image, a short biography, a pull-quote from your interview, and a PDF link to your interview’s transcript.

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