Writing the Profiles


Before each interviewee reviewed her transcript, I lightly edited it to remove the typical false starts, non-verbal vocalizations or repetitions in colloquial speech that so often elicit horrified reactions when speaker becomes reader. After the interviewee's amendments were made, a clean copy of the transcript was sent to each woman for her personal archives.

With 27 corrected transcripts ranging from 10,000 to 22,000 words, the task became quite complex, for now the first-person, conversational accounts must be changed to third-person narratives. Furthermore, profiles must be radically compressed while maintaining authenticity of voice, a reduction from 18,000 to 4,000 words on average. A further challenge was creating narrative flow and consistency over a wide range of speech styles without sacrificing the particularity of each one.

The process was not a simple reductive one of following the transcript sequence to create a précis. Each interviewee had found her own rhythm and sequence of thought as she narrated her way through memory and insight, so movement of text and topics was often required. We also introduced a standardizing group of sub-headers within the profiles, which helped re-route text as necessary. References to organizations and dates sometimes prompted mini-research and further re-organization. Finally, those participants who desired to, would further review and amend the profile for fact and interpretation.

At intervals throughout this process and also as final editor of the profiles, project editor Gail Taylor compressed and re-jigged text and treated narratives for issues of flow, internal logic, and style, going back to interviewees as necessary for clarification. Then, at the Electronic Text Centre at the University of New Brunswick, Erik Moore, head, and Geoffrey Allen, digital projects librarian, read the profiles as a final check for those tiny errors that elude the most eagle-eyed writer or editor. Web developers Vivian Unger and Jennifer Whitney also caught glitches as they painstakingly prepared the documentation and photographs. Monica Currie, website designer, quickly understood what was needed regarding the feel and functionality of the site.