Your Grandmother Should Know
Many of us seek cloth diapering support from our peers, from other parents of young children. We reinvent cloth diapers as we start over with every new parent and every baby. Even in the passing era of throwaway diapers, the knowledge of cloth diapers was not lost. There have been women among us all along who know about cloth diapers. Your grandmother should know.
We can give depth and history to our own use of cloth diapers by learning about the solutions others found. Granted, the cloth diapers we use on our children in 2006 are seldom like those our mothers or grandmothers used because our diapers are evolving in different economic and environmental realities. We have a greater variety of materials available. We have the collective wisdom of our peers to draw on through the internet. And, we have a much more detailed knowledge of the impact of our diapering choices on environment, economy, and health.
Let's expand that collective wisdom to the history within memory in our own families and neighborhoods. Let's learn from our grandmothers as we create an oral history of cloth diapers, then let’s spread it around.
Your grandmother should know cloth diapers. Go ask her.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Your Grandmother Should Know project will collect interviews. After the first phase of interviews, the information we gather will be evaluated. What we gather will, in part, determine what we can do with the information.
During the second phase of the project, recordings and documentation will be processed for use in RDA educational materials and for deposit in an archive, where these stories of cloth diapering can be maintained for the future. We also plan to publish an oral history of cloth diapering.
The first phase we learn; the second phase we analyze and educate.
Your Grandmother Should Know fits the long-term RDA mission and plan. Not only has this project been part of the RDA plan for education from the beginning, but we intend that the material we gather will enable RDA to raise funds to support future educational goals.
As we create a cultural shift to increase the use of simple, reusable cloth diapers, we need to dig into the rich substance of the history of cloth diapering. We reinvent diapers every day, but we certainly didn’t invent the need diapers fill. We believe that by connecting current cloth diapering parents to the long history of cloth diapering, we will expand our understanding of possible solutions for the mundane fact that babies always have needed and will continue to need our help when they eliminate.
The knowledge about cloth diapers was never lost. The knowledge exists. We just have to ask. We are creating an oral history of cloth diapers. The knowledge and experience of our Grandmothers will become an archive of information from which we draw to help U.S. parents see how simple, accessible, and acceptable cloth diapers can be in their lives. The purpose of RDA is to provide the support that local advocates need to reach users face-to-face with the knowledge and tools of cloth diapering. The materials we gather as part of Your Grandmother Should Know will contribute toward the long-term RDA goals to educate the public about cloth diapers.
We cannot necessarily anticipate what we will find when we ask about cloth diaper use in the early- to mid-twentieth century. We ask not because we know but because we don’t know. What will our Grandmothers say when we ask them, “What did you use to diaper your babies, and how did you do it?”
The goal of the project is to gather Real Stories of Real Babies into an oral history of cloth diapers and to connect our era of cloth diapering with internet support to an earlier era when women told one another face-to-face how to diaper their babies.
- In the interviewing process, we will connect with another generation of cloth diaper users.
- In the collection of all interviews, we will learn the specific details of what they used and how.
- In the publicity to follow, we will discover the recent oral history of cloth diapering and bring attention to cloth diapers by publicity in your community.
- In the oral history of cloth diapering, a fundraising book we intend to compile from the project, we will fund the basic demographic studies on diaper use and environmental studies on diaper impact that are much needed in the U.S.
We expect that participants will be Real Diaper Circle members, individual and business RDA members. All participants in the Your Grandmother Should Know project are volunteers, including the Participants, Interviewers, and Project Manager.
If you are not an RDA member but you want to participate, please contact us. But, if you aren’t a Real Diaper Association member, why not? If you are interested in the project and willing to donate your time and energy to help build this history of cloth diapering, now is a perfect time to join RDA.
- Your Grandmother Should Know Project Guidelines. This book explains the project and how you can participate in the project. Some of this information is also available on the RDA website. Project Guidelines.
- Support and Encouragement. When you are wondering what to do and you don’t see your question answered in the Project Guidelines, the Project Manager can help you find the answers.
- Press Release Outline. A lot of newspapers are looking for Earth Day and other local interest stories. You could aim for April 22nd publication (near the end of the project, April 2007). But, don’t hesitate to seek publicity for your project at any point during the year.
- Collection and Processing. The Project Manager, an RDA volunteer, will collect all interviews by all RDA members as well as documentation of every interviewer, every person interviewed, and all recordings and photos. She will also make these interviews usable and available in several formats for future RDA projects.
- Publicity. Your Circle and your interview may be publicized through the e-newsletter, the Quarterly, the RDA website, and possibly a book.
- Time. It is your research, preparation and interviews that provide the substance of the oral history of cloth diapers.
- Contacts. Who should you interview? We don’t know! You know that. Ask your grandmother, your mother, your aunts, your neighbors. You know the ground locally, so you will find the people who remember what it was like to use cloth diapers a generation or two (or three) ago.
- Recording Equipment and Recordable Media. You can use equipment you already have, or borrow, rent, or buy. Whatever works. Raise funds or seek donations locally to cover your costs of both the hardware (which you will keep) and the recordable media (tapes or digital media, which you will send to RDA).
- Documentation of Interview. We don’t just want the recording of your interview. We want to know all about it. We will help you to gather the important information, including legal releases that allow us to publish the materials, all of which will become part of the archive.
- Local Publicity. RDA reaches out locally through you. Once you spend your time and effort learning what Your Grandmother Should Know about cloth diapers, tell everyone else. You can speak to local media, talk to parenting groups, or find any other group of people who want to know what your grandmother knows. The more people hear about cloth diapers, the more they will (re)accept these simple tools.
Of course, to some extent the future uses of the collection will be determined by what we all find in our interviews, but future uses might include: quotations and sound files on the RDA website, pamphlets, excerpts in the e-newsletter or Quarterly print newsletter, articles on the history of cloth diapering in recent generations, or perhaps a book, exhibit, or other publication.
Some of the possibilities for future use depend on the formats of your interviews. Video interviews could be included in RDA training or educational videos. Volunteers could create podcasts or online sound essays downloadable from the RDA website. We could add sound clips to RDA News. What we do depends on you because you are RDA.
Information and excerpts will almost certainly be used in materials training local leaders and introducing new users to cloth diapers. After the creation of a published oral history of cloth diapering, we plan to deposit the whole collection in an archive where the materials will be made available to researchers.
Lori Taylor is the Founder as well as the current Chair of the Board of Directors of Real Diaper Association. Before she jumped into the cloth diaper industry in 2000 as a manufacturer and retailer, Lori earned a doctorate in American Studies. Lori also has graduate training in Folklore and Oral History. She worked for the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage as an archivist, and she has also worked on many oral history and folklife projects. Lori has determined from the beginning that Real Diaper Association would draw on the existing knowledge of cloth diapers to inform contemporary diapering. The Your Grandmother Should Know project is one of the major educational projects Lori planned to create a solid foundation in RDA’s first five years, from 2004-2009.