Dear OHR readers, please help us welcome Elissa Stroman, our new Copy and Production Editor. We’re so excited to have her as an addition to our team!
Tell us about your interest and background in oral history.
I fell into oral history entirely by accident. I was starting my master’s program in musicology, and since there weren’t assistantships available, my advisor suggested employment at the archive on campus at Texas Tech University. Three years later, I started a full time position at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library in our Audio/Visual department. My first task was to reassess and rehouse the oral history collection. For the past nine years basically, I’ve been working daily with our almost 13,000 oral history recordings (6,500 in our main holdings and 6,500 donated). My interest started from the archival, collection management side of things—how to best arrange, describe, and disseminate the interviews. I learned the discipline just by listening to as many interviews as I could from our archive, while doing supplemental readings for theoretical approaches. I’ve also been fortunate to conduct a number of interviews that feed into my research interests—primarily dealing with women’s music clubs and Texas musical communities and traditions.
What is your own research specialty?
I am a musicologist by training, and I investigate how gender and music intersect with popular culture. My research has focused on 19th- and 20th-century American musical women—particularly pianists and clubwomen. My master’s thesis and dissertation explored reception history, identity, and memory/myth-making by investigating how Gilded Age musical print culture represented women. But because of my work at the Southwest Collection and my involvement with the Handbook of Texas Women, now I additionally study and document more contemporary Texas women culture bearers—writers, historians, artists, musicians, and clubwomen.
What do you like most about copyediting? How about the least?
I was a writing tutor in undergrad, and I found I really loved the exercise of having people of incredibly diverse backgrounds and styles bring you text on a page that you work with them to improve. My mom was an English teacher, and that combined with my perfectionist tendencies makes the work a natural fit. I find the process rewarding—to know that you’ve helped streamline language, standardize punctuation, and make things more organized and readable.
I think my least favorite part of copyediting is that my brain can’t hold every tiny formatting rule in the Chicago Manual of Style—so I’m constantly having to refer back to the guide to ensure the best possible end product.
What are you looking forward to in your new position on the OHR team?
Generally, I’m looking forward to diving into the challenges that come with the variety of subjects explored in OHR articles and learn as much as I can in the process. I’m excited to be a part of the team that helps disseminate the important work of the Oral History Association!