Pilot Project



To preserve for future generations the memories of past events and how they affected the people caught up in those events. 


Purpose of Oral History

*       Serves as a link from the immediate present to the immediate past in a very understandable and human way.

*       Fills an information gap when less and less information and reflections are recorded in written form.

*       Provides a natural opportunity to obtain information related to ordinary people.

*       Provides an opportunity to "experience" history firsthand

*       Increases understanding of a specific historical event

*       Chronicles the traditional skills and values of many different groups

*        Creates understanding that bridges generations

*       Tries to capture in sufficient detail meaningful characteristics of a past that might otherwise be lost [1]

The Oral History project is intended to provide access to accounts of the flood of 1972 by those who lived here when it occurred. Much on the flood has been written. The project is an attempt to provide a venue for ordinary people to express what happened to them and their loved ones as they lived through an extraordinary event. History is not always about the big things.  It is often the small things that bring events to life; a friend shared with me how her husband rinsed off his coveralls from work in the street because they did not have any running water.  To gather people’s stories and keep them we have decided to do this through the medium of streaming video. Interviews may then be shared through the library’s web site and used by the Journey museum in their Flood of 1972 exhibit.  The importance of this project is to capture Rapid City history and make it available to not only Rapidcitians but to people all over the world through access from our web site.  The research and historical value will be unlimited. Future plans include working with the Journey to have an “oral history” program that will highlight the oral histories collected so far and to actively seek more.


Thank you for volunteering to interview and/or run the equipment during the interviews. This is an exciting project that will give voice to past events of the experiences of ordinary men and women from Rapid City and the Black Hills. Participating in this program helps the community to capture its past in living voices.


Volunteer Position Description



Title/Position            Oral history interviewer


Number of Volunteers Needed:  at least 4


Goal of Position collect oral histories for the oral history project from volunteers who live at assisted living facilities


Sample of Activities

  1. Ask a list of predetermined questions to people who lived through the flood of 1972.
  2. Video people being interviewed about their experiences in the flood of 1972.
  3. Edit materials produced by the interviews.


Length of commitment: 3 months


Estimated total hours or per month: varies depending on how many interviews can be set up.  2 hours will be needed for each interview. We plan on a total of 20.



Specific: depending on the convenient times for the interviewee and other volunteers.


Worksite: different locations depending on person being interviewed – institutions or homes


Qualifications Sought

1.         Good with people  -Able to set other at ease – good conversationalist

2.        Be Committed to the project

3.        Willing to learn about the flood in order to direct the interview

4.        Willing and able to attend orientation and training

5.        Can commit to the necessary time for completion of the project

6.        Comfortable asking questions – do follow up questions etc.

7.        Flexible about time in doing interviews

8.        Able to be Impartial

9.        Able to speak clearly

10.     Willing and able to learn to run the equipment [2]


Position Contact    Susan Braunstein

Position Trainer       Karen Burd, Roxann Silbaugh, Susan Hotalling, Greg Russ



Floods have occurred in the area for hundreds of years. Below is a chronology of floods that have happened in the Rapid City area. The flood of 1972 was not the first or the last; but arguably the most devastating to Rapid City. By looking over and knowing the background of  not only the 1972 flood but other floods in this area the expectation is that you will be better prepared to ask questions as well as follow – up questions to the narrator.

Historic Black Hills Floods

1878 - Flooding caused minor damage in April, May and June.  On July 12, a freight train of at least 10 ox wagons loaded with machinery for the Home Stake Mine were washed downstream.  Rapid Creek rose 10 feet and one life was lost.

1883 - Heavy, wet spring snowstorms caused flooding that washed away most of Deadwood on May 16.  Several days of torrential rain over the Black Hills caused flooding on Hat Creek, Rapid Creek and the Belle Fourche River on May 17 and 18.  The floods caused an estimated $250,000 in damage and claimed four lives.  

1885 - More than $25,000 damage occurred when Rapid, Box Elder and Elk Creeks flooded.  

1890 - Heavy rain and floods (4-5 June).  Flooding in Deadwood (17 June).  On August 15, flooding in Rapid City caused water to run down the streets at a depth of two feet, filling basements and causing considerable damage.  According to U. S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) documents published in the 1950's, eleven members of a wagon train camped on the banks of Beaver Creek drowned when thunderstorms produced flash flooding.

1892 - Flooding caused damage to railroads and roads on June 6.  Just six days later, rain began falling and continued for 46 hours, causing slight damage.

1901 - Streets flooded July 22 in Rapid City.

1907 - On June 12, an average of five inches of rain caused rapid melting of accumulated snow in the Black Hills.  Over seven inches of rain was reported at Fort Meade, with 6.1 inches falling in just 2 1/2 hours.  The flooding along Rapid Creek claimed four lives, Rapid City sustained over $100,000 damage, railroad losses were estimated at $100,000 and every bridge over Rapid Creek between Mystic and Creston was destroyed.  Canyon Lake was washed out and remained dry until 1932.  This was the largest flood in Rapid City prior to 1972, with the peak flow estimated at 13,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). 

Flooding in Rapid City, June 11, 1909 (photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal).

Flooding in Rapid City, June 11, 1909
(photo courtesy of the Rapid City

1909 - Thunderstorms and high winds struck the Deadwood, Lead and Spearfish area on May 9.  Most of the damage was due to flooded streets, railroads and mines.  Spearfish Creek was half a mile wide near its mouth at the Belle Fourche River, with flooding on Elk and Box Elder Creeks also.  In Belle Fourche, over half a million dollars in damage was reported.  

1909 - A week of heavy rain in the Black Hills caused flooded streets, damaged railways and forced the evacuation of 20 homes near Bear Butte Creek on June 11.

1920 - On May 10, Rapid Creek was already 3.5 feet above average when rain began falling on ground saturated by rain and melting snow. By the time the rain ended on May 12, a total of 4.75 inches had fallen.  Eight people died, 20 railroad bridges were badly damaged or washed out and all private and country bridges on Rapid Creek were destroyed. Total damages were approximately $200,000.  

1924 - Warm temperatures and showers falling over approximately five feet of snow melted quickly, causing flooding in Belle Fourche beginning on April 9.  No lives were lost, but 55 families were left homeless and damages were estimated at $150,000.

1926 - On May 27, three inches of rain fell in three hours in Rapid City, Sturgis and Deadwood.

1927 - Flooding occurred over the Cheyenne, Bad, White and the Missouri Rivers (below the mouth of the Cheyenne) in May. South Dakota had been in a drought the previous three years, but had an extremely wet and snowy spring in 1927. From March 31 to April 15, 51.9 inches of snow fell at Rapid City. Similar conditions are thought to have extended over the Black Hills region and much of western South Dakota. This snow and subsequent lighter snowfall amounts melted enough to saturate the soil by May 5. Heavy rains, with 6.5 inches reported at Belvidere, began falling over the Cheyenne, Bad and White River basins on May 5. The rivers quickly flooded, with the worst flooding occurring on the Cheyenne and Bad Rivers.

1937 - Flooding caused an estimated $200,000 in damage on June 17 in Hot Springs.

Hot Springs, prior to construction of Coldbrook Reservoir (photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal).

Hot Springs, prior to construction of
Coldbrook Reservoir (photo courtesy of the
Rapid City Journal).

1947 - Flooding in Hot Springs along Fall River (see photo at right), prior to the construction of Cold Brook Reservoir.  

1949 - Thunderstorms on August 15 produced flash flooding and large hail.  Peak flow on Rapid Creek was 450 cfs and damage was estimated at $198,000.

1952 - Flooding on May 22 caused heavy damage to the Canyon Lake area of west Rapid City.  Flow on Rapid Creek was 2,500 cfs.  Landslides occurred in Deadwood and in Sturgis, flash flooding caused rock slides, damage to streets and gas lines, and washed out bridges.  The ranger at Pactola reported 5.55 inches of rain in a 24-hour period and a storm total of 6.26 inches.

1955 - Up to five inches of rain on July 28 caused minor flooding in Mystic, Rochford and Pactola.

1960 - On June 20, a thunderstorm hit the Rapid City and New Underwood areas with hail, gusty winds and about an inch of rain in a short period of time.  Basements and streets were flooded.

Street flooding in Rapid City, June 1962 (photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal).

Street flooding in Rapid City, June 1962
(photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal).

1962 - On June 15, Rapid Creek went over its banks.  Just nine days later, over three inches of rain fell over the Black Hills.  In Rapid City, 120 mobile homes, two motels and over 400 houses were damaged by water.  Bridges, roads, sewer systems and recreation areas along Rapid Creek were also damaged.  Sturgis, Deadwood, and Whitewood received extensive damage to roads and bridges throughout the area. Road equipment lost during this flood was estimated at $200,000.  On June 30, about an inch and a half of rain fell in Rapid City, damaging north Rapid City and the South Canyon area for the second time. 

1962 - Thunderstorms dumped heavy rain over Rapid City again on July 13.  Three to five inches of rain fell over Cleghorn, Dark and South Canyons and the Canyon Lake area on July 13.  Fifteen hundred people were evacuated, six bridges were washed out and 35 units at a mobile home business at the corner of Mountain View Road and West Main Street were damaged.  Several injuries were reported.  Damage to public property was estimated at $70,000.  Total flash flood damage during the summer of 1962 was estimated at over $1,900,000.

1965 - On May 15, flash floods caused by heavy rain falling on up to 30 inches of snow damaged portions of Deadwood, Spearfish and Sturgis.  Record crests were reported on Spearfish Creek near Spearfish and Rapid Creek near Silver City.  Many houses in the Spearfish-Sturgis area sustained major damage or were destroyed.  Damage was estimated at over $2 million.

Tree damage at Canyon Lake Park following the 1972 Rapid City flood (photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal).

Tree damage at Canyon Lake Park following
the 1972 Rapid City flood (photo courtesy of
the Rapid City Journal).

1972 - On June 9, strong easterly surface winds pushed moisture laden air against the Black Hills.  Nearly stationary thunderstorms developed and dropped up to 15 inches of rain in about six hours along the eastern slopes of the Black Hills.  Record flows were reported on tributaries of the Cheyenne River including Rapid Creek, Boxelder Creek, Battle Creek and Bear Butte Creek.  The flood claimed 238 lives and caused $164 million in property damage ($664 million 2002 dollars).  Canyon Lake breached, adding to the wall of water that poured through Rapid City.  Flow on Rapid Creek was estimated at over 10,000 cubic feet per second.  Following the flood, approximately 750 acres of land adjacent to Rapid Creek was designated as a floodway.

1975 - On June 8, almost two and a half inches of rain fell in 30 minutes, causing damage to homes, cars and city parks.

1976 - Three to 10 inches of rain fell over the Black Hills in 24 hours on June 13 and 14, with two to three more inches of rain on June 15 and 16.  The heavy rain caused $1.5 million in damage to buildings, roads and water systems.  Most of the damage occurred in Belle Fourche, Deadwood, Galena, Spearfish and Sturgis and one death was reported.

1981 - On July 23, 0.71 inches of rain fell in just 15 minutes in Rapid City.  Streets Rapid City were flooded and a youth suffered minor injuries when he was swept into a culvert by rushing water. 

1991 - In the Keystone area, one to three inches of rain in an hour resulted in minor flooding of roads.

1993 - Two inches of rain in 20 minutes caused $5,000 road and culvert damage near Hill City on May 5 and flooding along Battle Creek and tributaries.

1993 - On June 7, three inches of rain in 10 hours caused localized flooding and forced the evacuation of a campground near Keystone.  Several roads closed due to water, mudslides or debris. 

1993 - Brief, heavy rainfall caused three to four feet of water over a road near Rapid City on August 6.

1995 - On May 7 and 8, just over three inches of rain in 12 hours washed out culverts and damaged roads near Hill City.

1995 - Near Rapid City, 4.34 inches of rain in 36 hours caused flooding of roads on May 8 and 9.

1996 - A slow moving thunderstorm dumped three to six inches of rain on saturated ground near Rapid City on May 30.  Two to three feet of water covered the Highway 79 Bridge at Spring Creek near Hermosa.  The Hart Ranch Campground and homes near Rapid Creek evacuated. 

1996 - On June 14, nearly stationary thunderstorms dumped five to 10 inches of rain, washing out the road from Sturgis to Hereford.  The flood waters damaged cars, houses and ranches, including sweeping away livestock and destroying fences.  Total damage was estimated at $260,000.

1997 - Stationary thunderstorms produced four to five inches of rain, causing minor flooding on Rapid Creek and its tributaries on May 24.

Bridge damage in Cleghorn Canyon, June 1997.

Bridge damage in Cleghorn
, June 1997.

1997 - On June 2, two to three inches of rain fell in less than an hour from Deerfield to Rapid City.  Up to four and a half inches of rain fell in 30 minutes in the Chapel Valley area and caused extensive damage.  Six to eight feet of water in Cleghorn Canyon washed out driveways and bridges. Eight to 10 feet of water in Red Rock Canyon washed out driveways and bridges. Minor flooding was reported near at a golf course near Chapel Valley and six to 12 inches of water poured over roads in Rapid City area.  Flows on Rapid Creek were the highest since the 1972 flood.

1999 - Three to four inches of rain fell in less than 90 minutes near Keystone.  Sections of the Old Hill City-Keystone Highway were washed away on June 18.

2001 - Thunderstorms dumped 1 to 3 inches of rain on July 21, causing flooding in Keystone.  Highway 16A was under water, several local businesses were damaged and damage was sustained at several homes.  The Rapid City-Pennington County emergency manager estimated damage at $50,000. [3]

JUNE 9TH 1972 Flash Flood Time Line:  Below is the chronology of June 9 1972 and the days after that.

In a 6-hour time frame on June 9, 1972, a rush of water poured through the canyons and the city destroying homes, vehicles, businesses, bridges, and claiming 238 lives in Rapid City and the Black Hills

June 9, 1972

Morning - The eastern slopes of the Black Hills are foggy and humid. Temperatures quickly rise through the 70s and into the 80s as steady east winds push moist air up against the Black Hills.

900 am MDT - The National Severe Local Storm Forecast Center (now known as the Storm Prediction Center) indicates the possibility of severe thunderstorms in western South Dakota during the late afternoon and evening.

1200 pm MDT - The afternoon forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) calls for thunderstorms to develop over the Black Hills with some storms becoming severe.  

Late morning - Towering cumulus clouds, precursors to thunderstorms, are seen over the hills west of Rapid City.

130 pm MDT - Early signs of convective cells building in northeastern Wyoming, about 60 miles northwest of Rapid City.

300 pm MDT - a line of thunderstorms develops to the southeast of Rapid City, moving west northwest.

340 pm MDT - Precipitation echoes are seen on Air Force radar and reported to the NWS.

500 pm MDT - Rain begins at Pactola Reservoir.  

600 pm MDT - A nearly continuous line of thunderstorms covers the eastern slopes of the Black Hills.  High water reported in Boulder Canyon between Sturgis and Deadwood and State Radio requested commercial radio and television stations announce motorists should avoid Boulder Canyon.  

Data evaluation after the storm indicated the heaviest precipitation fell between Pactola Reservoir and Rapid City. Recording precipitation gages indicated the highest rainfall rates occurred between 6 PM and midnight.

615 pm MDT - WSO Rapid City called State Radio for reports and were told of a foot of water over roads near Sturgis.

630 pm MDT - SDSM&T tells the NWS about strong thunderstorms in the Hermosa area.  The Civil Defense Director for Pennington County reports 3 inches of rain at Pactola Dam.

650 pm MDT - Water over the road through Boulder Canyon.  The radar operator at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) estimates 2 inches of rain per hour have fallen in Boulder Canyon.

700 pm MDT - Report of 4 inches of rain in 2 hours near Galena (Lawrence County).

710 pm MDT - WSO Rapid City calls the River District Office in Sioux City, Iowa to tell them about the flash flood, relay precipitation reports and request guidance.

715 pm MDT - The NWS issues a flash flood warning for the northern Black Hills.

718 pm MDT - Sioux City River District Office contacts the Hydrologist in Charge at the River Forecast Center in Kansas City to relay information about the flash flood.

730 pm MDT - Mayor Don Barnett is notified of the flash flood warning and the National Guard and local law enforcement called to duty.

745 pm MDT - The National Weather Service River District Office in Sioux City, Iowa advises the NWS office in Rapid City to expand the warning southward to include Rapid City.

745 pm MDT - A person in Nemo contacts the NWS about Box Elder Creek being in flood and evacuations in low-lying areas of Nemo.

800 pm MDT - The expanded warning has been issued and the emergency operations center opens.

840 pm MDT - An observer at Ellsworth AFB reports heavy precipitation over the central Black Hills.

900 pm MDT - Commercial phone service becomes intermittent and unreliable.

930 pm MDT - NWS tells radio and television stations the heavy rain will continue until midnight.

1010 pm MDT - Evacuation of the Brookdale residential area (present Fairgrounds location) begins.

1015 pm MDT - Rapid Creek overtops its banks.

1030 pm MDT - In a television and radio broadcast, Mayor Don Barnett urges the evacuation of all low-lying areas.

1045 pm MDT - Canyon Lake Dam fails, adding to the flood waters.  (Data from the gauge on Rapid Creek above Canyon Lake later reveals that from 900 pm MDT until the dam failed the water level rose approximately 12 feet).

June 10, 1972

1215 am MDT - A flood crest estimated at 50K cubic feet per second reaches downtown Rapid City.

500 am MDT - Rapid Creek is once again within its banks.

June 15, 1972

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) receives a grant request for $300,000 under the Neighborhood Development Plan.  

June 18, 1972

Similar weather conditions are developing and many people heed the evacuation notice.  However, the winds accompanying this storm are stronger and no flooding develops.

June 20, 1972

Rapid City receives approval for the HUD Neighborhood Development Plan grant.

Debris and damaged bridge, Rapid Creek (photo courtesy of the Journey Museum).

Debris and damaged bridge, Rapid Creek
(photo courtesy of the Journey Museum).

August 24, 1972

Rapid City put in a new request for execution of the Conventional Urban Renewal Project, $48 million.

October 31, 1972

HUD approves $48 million for the Conventional Urban Renewal Project.

Flood Statistics

  • Up to 15 inches of rain fell near Keystone, with an average of 10 inches over 60 square miles.
  • The heaviest rainfall in Rapid City occurred between 1030 pm MDT (9th) and 1 am MDT.
  • Peak flow on Rapid Creek 50,600 cubic feet per second...more than 10 times greater than the previous flood of record. 
  • During the flood, water rose as fast as 3.5 feet in 15 minutes
  • Flood debris clogged the Canyon Lake spillway and temporarily raised the pool 11 to 12 feet deeper than normal. 
  • 238 people killed, 8 of the deaths in Keystone.
  • 3,000 people injured.
  • 1,335 homes destroyed.
  • 5,000 automobiles destroyed.
  • $160 million in total damages (1972 dollars, $644 million in 2002 dollars)
  • 15 of the 23 bridges over Rapid Creek were destroyed.
  • 754 acres were developed as a floodway. [4]







Each volunteer will go through orientation: learning about the project, interviewing, using the equipment and contacting and interviewing narrators.

Volunteers will practice as teams. Each team taking turns asking the questions and running the camera - this will give you a feel as to the length of time for each question – and a chance to practice asking the questions - if you want and have actually been in the flood you can do an oral history after filling out the release forms- each volunteer will fill out the forms to be familiar with what is being asked on them. A checklist will be provided to each volunteer team as to what sequence things need to be done from initial contact to finished project.


Familiarizing yourself with the different forms is important. You need to be able to explain them to potential narrators. Forms help to keep the information given to you and maintains the accuracy of the information. One of the forms you will need to be familiar with will be the PROJECT MASTER LOG. This contains such information as who the narrator was, the interviewer, the dates of signed release forms and processing dates etc. All the forms you will be using can be found at the back of the manual










John Doe

Ann Smith



9/3/2005 - Todd Long



Jane doe

Ann Smith



8/16/2005 - Joe Jones



Will Smith

Ann Smith



9/10/2005 - Ann Smith






NAME John Doe________________________________________________________

ADDRESS__444 First St. RC______________________________________________


INTERVIEWER______Ann Smith_________________________________________


DATE OF INTERVIEW_____August 20, 2005________________________________

PLACE OF INTERVIEW__Mr. Doe’s home_________________________________

LENGTH OF INTERVIEW___2 hours______________________________________

ORAL HISTORY DONOR FORM SIGNED_____8/20/2005____________________


VIDEO REVIEWED BY NARRATOR______________________________________




Mr. Doe described how his house was swept away by the flood waters in the early morning of the 10th of June. He talked about getting his wife and children to safety and going back to try and salvage what he could……..


 All the information that is discussed during the interviews remains confidential. Do not talk about the interview or interviewee with others. People have a right to their privacy.. However we would appreciate your opinion of the process. (See evaluation form at the end of the manual).


 Copyright is an issue when any written, visual or oral document is changed, edited, displayed for the public where the possibility of infringement can occur. The Library does get an automatic copyright to the material however; it is important to understand that copyright can still be held by the narrator and by the library.  The narrator’s story is theirs and they need to give the library permission to use it.

This is one of the reasons for the release form so that the narrator can give informed consent for the use of their oral history tape. The release form allows us to post the interview on our web page without violating copyright.

What types of copyright apply to oral history recordings?

Oral History recordings usually contain two elements to which copyright law applies:

1.      The speaker - who owns the copyright to their own words

  1. The interviewer (or the interviewer’s employer) - who own the recording




Make contact with the proposed narrator – explain why you are calling and the expectations of doing an oral history interview with him/her.

  • They are consenting to give personal information about the events of the 1972 flood that happened to them and their family
  • They are agreeing to let the library use the footage as they see fit with the libraries acknowledgement of the narrator’s contribution to the oral history project. Let them know there is a release form for them to sign.
  • We will be sharing their narrative with the Journey Museum for their flood exhibit.

One of the items the Journey has requested we do is find out if anyone has pictures or films of the flood they would be willing to share.

Possible questions:

·         Do they have any pictures or film footage of the flood and would they be willing to share?

·         Do they have any physical items from the flood that illustrate the scale of the tragedy?

·         Do they know of any existing landmarks in town that illustrate the magnitude of the flood?


 If they are interested in doing the video after explaining about our plans to have the interviews on our web site and share them with the Journey Museum set up a time to come and do the interview. If it is more than a day or two away please contact them the day before to remind the narrator that you will be coming to them (or if they wish they can come here) and when.



This needs to be a place where the narrator can be comfortable, where there will not be interruptions, where there is power for the equipment and enough room for the video operator and interviewer to be unobtrusive. Depending On the narrator the interview will either be at their home or here at the library. The narrator may have some reticence about being on camera it is important to put them as ease before starting the actual interview. When starting please state who you are, who the narrator is, the date and place of the interview.




Test the equipment before beginning the interview

Be sure the narrator is comfortable and ready to be interviewed. One or two general questions to get them started may be of help. Gauging the interviewer is important in this respect – they may be ready to jump into the interview – use your best judgment. To help break the ice you might ask their age, place of birth, occupation or former occupation etc.

   Ideally each interview should have at least 30 minutes of usable footage. Some editing of the tape will occur. Most interviews will run an hour or better and will need to be tightened before being put on the web sight.



·               Use open-ended questions. For example tell me about…., describe…..

·               Use neutral not leading questions for example “tell me about living here” using who, what when where and why questions  can clarify events and can often get the narrator to give more information

·               Ask only one question at a time

·               Remember you are there to get the narrators story not your own

·               Do not judge what is being said or in anyway show disagreement – these are the narrators’ memories and their time to tell his or her story. This is an interview not a debate or a social call.

·               Use the background research to prompt the narrator as necessary

·               Ask about thoughts and feelings

·               Don’t interrupt – let them finish what they are saying before asking another question

·               If the narrator goes off on a rehearsed story or away from topic – listen politely and then bring them back with questions about our topic.

·               Ask follow up questions to clarify information if necessary

·               Don’t argue with the narrator’s information – if you have a question about it ask politely for clarification

·               Be thoroughly familiar with the research and topic – so you do not have to constantly refer to your notes – have dates of events, people etc. ready to prompt the narrator if needed

·               Have the narrator put his/her memories into the context of time or place by describing what a place or event looked like. Also be sure to ask for specifics like, names of place, names of people, dates or context.

·               Keep in mind that some narrators will give long answers while others might not – be prepared to encourage fuller answers

·               Do not ask questions that the narrator will not know first hand

·               If acronyms or jargon is used ask for explanations as appropriate – for clarification to those who will view the interview.

·               Using body language for encouragement is effective – verbal encouragement can be distracting

·               Try not to turn off the video – however there may be a reason to pause the recording if so do it. Take breaks if necessary. Observe the narrator – he/she may not like the line of questioning, need to stretch, get a drink of water etc.

·               Use a notebook to keep track of follow- up questions – additional points or any other interview needs

·               Keep a running list of names the narrator talks about

·               Keep track of the time – set limits so you do not extend past a reasonable time

·               Practice with the equipment – be familiar with it and do a check of it before starting[5]



·           Flood 1972:

  1. Where were you living on June 9th 1972?
  2. How old were you in 1972?
  3. When were you first aware of the flood?
  4. What was your first reaction to the event?
  5. What personally happened to you?
  6. What happened to you in the days and weeks after the flood?
  7. Was your job or your husband/wife’s job affected?
  8. How did your family cope with the changes the flood brought?
  9. What do you think is the impact of the flood on the city today?



Be sure to thank the narrator and to send them a thank you note as well for their assistance and participation in our project.

Be sure that all forms are signed and the narrator knows that they will get a copy of their edited interview within a month, and that they can look for their interview on our web site and at the Journey Museum within the same time frame.  For those who interested we encourage you to be part of the whole process by learning to edit your own video productions. Training will be offered to those want to do this.



            One of the most important aspects of doing the oral history project is evaluating each session. In this way we hope to improve our techniques in asking questions and in getting personal reminiscences of the flood down so that these historical facts are not lost to future generations. To that end a form needs to be filled out after each session. Using a critical eye on what went well but also what could have been improved or what went wrong. In this everyone can use the information to improve the sessions.


museum.dva.state.wi.us/Forms/Interviewer_Packet/ Oral_History_Training_Packet_(all_docs).

Doing oral history a practical guide by Donald A. Ritchie; Oxford University Press, New York;2003.

The oral history manual by Barbara W. Sommer and Mary Kay Quinlan; Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA. 2002




There are several pieces of equipment that you will need to use in gathering flood stories. Below are instructions to look over – As stated above there will be hands on training so that you will be familiar with the equipment.

I.                   Canon mini DV Digital Camcorder

II.                The Sony Mavica Digital Camera

III.             iMac computer and Laptop-using iMovie software and converting to streaming video


I. Camcorder- Mini DV Digital Camcorder

Goal: ~ to train volunteers to be able to use the basic functions of the camcorder, download the images to iMovie editing software on the computer, and then edit the images into a basic production

Objectives ~

1.)    to review the basic controls of the digital camcorder and firewire cable

2.)    to download recorded images from the camcorder using iMovie

3.)    to identify basic editing controls of iMovie

4.)    to save the final product in the compression mode of choice




Play head – the three bars that run below the preview screen that hold the clips, transitions, effects, etc. that you choose in the order that you choose found on VCRs, camcorders, cassette players, CD or DVD players

Shelf – individual bars of the play head.

Universal controls – the play, reverse, etc. controls are as they are found on camcorders, VCRs, CD players, etc. with one exception.  The button with the dark rectangle and white arrowhead toggles between full screen showing and showing the product in the reduced size work area.

Rendered – the command to the iMovie program that fixes the project in place upon  saving, it takes several minutes for the program to complete this step depending on the length of the created product

Firewire port – the connection type between equipment (serial ports, parallel ports, and USB are examples of the other common connection types)

Quick Time – Mac’s proprietary video format.  The other two most common formats are Real Player and Windows Media Player.

Location & Tips Canon mini DV Digital Camcorder ~

  • A “point and shoot” camcorder when set on automatic, automatically sets “exposure” and focuses for you
  • It has a 20 X zoom, 100X digital zoom capability, which allows close ups and wide angle shots
  • It is kept in the cabinet below the small bar sink in Tech Services.  Mini DV tapes are kept in Sue. H.’s office on the south wall top shelf
  • It has a rechargeable cadmium battery that lasts about 100 minutes and must be charged before use.  The charger is in the cabinet with the camera.  The camera can also be plugged into the wall, the converter is also in the cabinet.
  • Using the correct tripod is highly advised
  • There is a jack for the microphone, and this should be used if the subject is too far 

Taking mini DV movies ~


·         Turn on camera, lens cap off, flip side screen out gently

·         Aim, adjust zoom as you wish

·         HOLD IT STILL!!  And when you do move, sweep SLOWLY

·         Make sure the rear switch is on standby and not locked, depress red button to start recording

·         NOTE ON DV TAPES – this part of the machine is fragile!!  Open gently, press the eject button and let the camera open the tape holder.  Upon putting in tape or removing tape, GENTLY push the flap to close the tape holder.

Downloading from the Camcorder to the eMac or Powerbook G4 ~


1)      Log into the computer and launch iMovie

2)      Attach firewire cable to the camcorder (rear, under protective flap), attach to the computer (on the right side of the eMac, left side of the Powerbook G4), the camcorder must be turned on

3)      The workspace on iMovie will tell you if you have a successful connection or not. When it registers the camera, you are ready to download

4)      To begin downloading, click on the import button.  When you have what you want, click on the button again to end the download

At times you may need to take still shots – below is information on using our still camera.

II. Still camera – Camera Training Class

Goal ~ to train volunteers to be able to use the basic digital camera available at the library

Objectives ~


1)      to review all of the controls of the camera

2)      to identify the differences between a conventional camera and digital cameras

3)      to identify strengths and weaknesses of digital cameras

4)      to use the camera

5)      to save digital photos

Digital Cameras ~ how do they work and how are they different?


1)      Based on the same principles of conventional SLR (single lens reflex) camera, and images captured in pixels (little dots)

2)  Differences:


·         Instead of a chemical reaction of coatings on a film, image is captured electronically, saved in the camera’s memory like data is saved on a hard drive or disk of a computer

·         Resolution (number of pixels per inch) of conventional film much greater than reasonably priced digital cameras

·         Light sensitivity of digital greater

Strengths and Weaknesses of Digital Cameras ~

-          Lower resolution equals fuzzier, less detailed photos – allows photos to be used on

      the web (small file sizes), but do not print large without considerable blur

-          Digital cameras  “interpret” to create color in normal light, but this is never as true as film reproduction


+    Increased sensitivity allows photos taken in much darker conditions

+    Instantaneous review – you can review what you have taken and erase what you don’t

       want to free up memory/disk space


* a side benefit of digital photos – editing software available that allows you to “fix”

mistakes, crop, cut out, or use special filters on photos for unlimited creativity

The Sony Mavica Digital Camera


3  A “point and shoot” camera, automatically sets “exposure” and focuses for you

3        It is kept in the lower left drawer of Susan Hotalling’s desk, loaded with a blank disk

      and charged

3        It uses common floppy disks, and can hold up to 40 photos per disk

3        It has a rechargeable cadmium battery that lasts about 100 minutes (much less if you are taking flash photos), and will recharge in 20 minutes.  The charger is on the shelf top between Jason Walker’s and Nancy Schmitz’s desks

3        It has a 10x zoom, which allows both shots of large crowds and closeups and portraits

3  It is a low resolution camera, and produces images of 640 X 480, saves as .jpg files


Features of the Mavica ~


1)      Special exposures –

Color, Black and White, Sepia (brown tint), Negative, Solarize

2)      Brightness control

3)      Flash control


Taking Photos ~


·         Turn on camera, lens cap off

·         Take off the flash

·         Aim, adjust zoom as you wish

·         HOLD IT STILL!!

·         Depress shutter


Saving Your Photos ~


1)       Prepare a place on the computer to store your photos – I suggest setting up a folder on your desktop

2)       Take disk out of camera and place in computer

3)       Right click on the Start button, choose Explore, go the Drive “A” and double click to reveal the photo files on the disk.  There will be 2 for each photo, and start with MVC

4)       Under Edit, choose Select All

5)       Right click, choose Copy

6)       Go to the place you have prepared, double click to open, right click and choose Paste

7)       To make sure the files copied, double click on one and let your computer launch its image software revealing the photo

8)       Go back to Drive A:, again Select All, right click and choose Delete to clean off the disk.  **Please leave an empty disk in the camera when you return it, OR, let me know that you need help saving the photos and I will help you!**


Processing Your Photos ~


3        Open the folder holding your photos, double click on one and allow the computer to launch it’s software to view the photo – Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional will open the photo with Microsoft Photo Editor


-          if the computer opens the photo with the web browser or picture viewer, you will have to go to a computer that has editing software


3        Under File, go to Save As, name your photo and save it making sure that it is being saved as a .jpg file


List of Controls/Description of Control Functions:


The Sony Mavica is “point and shoot,” that is, will automatically focus and make lighting decisions for you.  The following is a description of all of further control options:


On/Off:  Turns power on and off to camera  *if you see only a black screen after turning on, make sure to remove lens cap


Zoom:  A 10Xs zoom, will pan out for large crowds, close up enough for portraits and small objects


Shutter Button:  Push to take photo.  A regular floppy disk will hold 35 to 40 photos


Play/Camera Switch:  Must be on “camera” to take shots, switch to “Play” to review shots and delete what you don’t want


Cadmium Battery Door:  Open to remove battery for charging.  Charger is on top of the shelving between Jason’s and Nancy Schmitz’s desk.  Always use the battery as close to being “dead” and possible.  Slip it into charger, it takes only 20 minutes to recharge fully, and will run for approx. 100 minutes/3 full floppy disks       of photos (depends on how much you use the flash, which is energy inefficient)


Floppy Disk Release:  Pushing toward the middle of the camera ejects the floppy disk


Display/Display Control:  The small display button turns the LCD menu display on and off.  It points to the large, round Display Control jog button.  When a menu item  is chosen on the display by pressing the arrows on the jog button, more options are displayed.  To choose an option, press the jog button in the center.  The display choices are self-explanatory


Display Control options:  - EV, + EV, Menu, symbol that means timer.  The Evs  are the same as using the Brightness Control, which is much easier to use  instead.  The Menu has several options that you are welcome to try out. However, DO NOT go to “clock” and reset, please.  The Beep is the setting that  makes the camera make a noise when you take a photo, and it is currently turned off.  These settings are saved even if you turn the camera off, so that you should return the settings to where you found them if you do change them before putting the camera away.


Picture Effect:  Pressing this button activates photo type options other than color:  Black and White, Sepia (old fashion brown tint), Negative, and Solarize


Flash Control:  Manually turns the flash on and off.  When beginning to use the camera in  the library, I suggest you turn the flash off, as we normally have enough lighting. If the flash is on under marginal conditions, it tends to exaggerate the photo more than is desired


Brightness Control:  Toggle darkens the photo or lightens the photo by one shutter setting per click.  Very useful for in very bright outdoor light, and when in the  Library where it is always just a little dark for photos.


LCD Backlight:  Turns the LCD viewing screen off and on


Focus:  Found on the left hand side, it must be on automatic at all times[6]


III. Using iMovie basics with video clips & Streaming Video


An easy way to figure out how to use the program, including downloading, go to Help and choose the Tutorial.


Make sure that the small 3 o’clock icon below the bottom left hand corner of the work area – this reveals the play head, that is, you are ready to add clips to a new project.


Macintosh heavily uses Drop and Drag.  You will drop and drag images and effects choices into the From your “clips” (downloaded video pieces), drag and drop the one you wish to start with into the timeline bar below the workspace.


1)      Cropping – “clipping out” the portion of the video you want to use. 

·         Using the cursor to move sliders at the bottom margin of the workspace, identify the portion of video you want to keep

·         Select Edit from the menu bar, click on Crop


2)      Clearing – to clear a portion of video you do not want to use.

·         Using the cursor to move the sliders at the bottom margin of the workspace, identify the portion of video you want to eliminate

·         Select Edit from the menu bar, click on Clear


3)      Deleting – to delete an entire audio clip, photo or video clip highlight the clip and press the Delete key on your Keyboard


4)      Audio ~  from the bottom right menu bar, choose Audio

·         Pull down allows you to choose audio CD source for audio, iTunes (a Mac format saved audio product) or from provided sounds

·         From the iMovie sound effects, preview the provided sounds by clicking on the arrow icon

·         To add to you production, click on the area of the play head you want the sound effect, and then click on the red microphone dot.  To stop the effect, click again on the red microphone dot.

·         It is highly advised to do the audio before any of the rest of the effects choices, as it is much harder to place the correct length and synchronize the audio after the other pieces are in place and much easier to adjust the others to the audio


5)      Titles ~ from the bottom right menu bar, choose Titles

·         Scroll and choose a title effect, click on Over Black or Color to choose background behind the title

·         Change the font and size a font as preferred

·         Type in whatever you would like in a title in the two boxes at the bottom of the title box work area

·         Experiment with the speed, pause and wave as you desire

·         Preview!


6)      Transitions ~ to add an effect between clips, choose Transitions from the bottom right menu bar

·         Choose from the provided menu, preview

·         Drag your transition choice between the two clips you have chosen – an icon will appear on the play head to indicate there will be a transition


7)      Effects ~ to add an effect, choose Effects from the bottom left menu bar.

·         Choose an effect

·         Adjust the effect in and out as you desire, adjust the color if you feel it is necessary to compensate for poor video quality, and preview


   8)  Saving ~ saving your product to the computer’s hard drive


***Up until the point that you save the production, you can Undo any changes you have made and do not like with the Undo command found under File.  Therefore, it is advised to save only occasionally throughout the work process.


·         Saving back to the mini DV tape in the camera – Choose File, choose export, click on “to camera”

·         Saving to the computer’s hard drive or network

a.        Choose file, choose save project, choose “To Quick Time”

b.        A pull down will appear listing the format choices for saving – 

       each format “compresses” the project to the correct format for

       specific uses: Quick Time, e-Mail, web (1/8000ths), web  

       streaming (buffered in 3 sec. chunks), CD ROM or full DVD


iMac computers and Streaming video

[Info coming from Greg] (“Streaming video is a sequence of "moving images" that are sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer as they arrive. Streaming media is streaming video with sound. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a large file before seeing the video or hearing the sound. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, which is a special program that uncompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. A player can be either an integral part of a browser or downloaded from the software maker's Web site. Streaming video is usually sent from prerecorded video files.[7]”)




museum.dva.state.wi.us/Forms/Interviewer_Packet/ Oral_History_Training_Packet_(all_docs).

Doing oral history a practical guide by Donald A. Ritchie; Oxford University Press, New York;2003.

The oral history manual by Barbara W. Sommer and Mary Kay Quinlan; Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA. 2002



























Talk to prospective narrator to see about interest


Explain the forms


Set up a time to interview




Be sure all forms are filled out


Send thank you


Edit tape


Send copy of tape to narrator


Have interview placed on RCPL web site




















I _________________________________ hereby give to the Rapid City Public Library as a donation this interview recorded on _______________________. With this gift, I hereby transfer to the Rapid City Public Library legal title and all literary property rights the interview including copyright.


I understand the interview may be made available for research and public programming as the Rapid City Library may determine. This may include us of the interview material in live or recorded programs for radio, television, cable, internet or any other forms of electronic publishing that is not for profit.  The interviews may not be broadcast, cablecast or electronically publishes for commercial purposes without my consent.



Narrator’s signature_______________________________________________________




City, State, Zip code_______________________________________________________


Interviewer’s signature_____________________________________________________




City, State, Zip code_______________________________________________________






















Birth Date and Year______________________________________________________


Age at time of Flood______________________________________________________


Profession at time of flood_________________________________________________


Biographical information: (please include names of parents, siblings, spouse, children, pets etc. if applicable to the oral history interview)






















Start and record the following information on the tape:

 “The following interview was conducted with ________________ on behalf of the Rapid City Public Library for the 1972 flood oral history project. It took place on __________ at____________. The Interviewer is______________. By doing this introduction  there is a record on the tape of when where who, why etc. incase there is any question about the taping.






































DATE OF INTERVIEW_________________________________________________


PLACE OF INTERVIEW_________________________________________________


LENGTH OF INTERVIEW_______________________________________________


ORAL HISTORY DONOR FORM SIGNED___________________________________________________

VIDEO REVIEWED BY NARRATOR_______________________________________________














Oral History Interview Evaluation Form*

Evaluated by: ________________________                     Date evaluated:  _________________ Interviewer:_________________________            Narrator:  ___________________________
Interview date:  __________________


1.  Recording quality ____

Intro (both speakers' names, date, place, interview's purpose)  ____                                                         

Established rapport? ____                                                     

Quality of questions ____                                          

Thoughtful follow-up questions? ____                                                                                                          

Didn't interrupt?         ____                                      

Ended with a deflationary question                                                                                                                          


1.  Well prepared? ____  

2.  Asked questions in chronological order? ____  

3.  Asked about first-hand experiences? ____  

4.  Obtained facts before analysis? ____  

5.  Didn't speculate about things that haven't happened? ____  

                                *Credits: derived from a form developed by Martha Ross, former instructor, University of Maryland, College Park.                  SW-91










Dear: _______________


Thank you for participating in an oral history interview for the Rapid City Public Library oral history project on ____________. The information you gave in your interview was very helpful. Your interview will be kept as part of the permanent collection of the RCPL archives.


A review copy of the video will be sent of your interview within a month to thank you for participating in the project.   Thank you again for your time and your information.


Sincerely yours,’




_________________________________, Oral History project























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































[1] http://www.youthsource.ab.ca/teacher_resources/oral_overview.html


[2] Pg 22, Oral History Manual


[6]  Information from classes given by Susan Hotalling

[7] http://searchenterprisevoice.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid66_gci213055,00.html

[8] Pgs.93-102, Oral History Manual