Well THIS has been an exciting couple of hours. After receiving some late-breaking news, I’ve been rewriting my original blog post—a post that had formerly been titled “Proof of a cover-up, part 4: Omg, it appears as if someone has removed several documents from Miami University Archives, and this isn’t funny,” and where the lead sentence was a simple, straightforward “Holy crap, you guys.”
(If you happen to be new here, I suggest that you at least skim over a few prior posts on this topic before proceeding. That way, you’ll better understand why I was freaking out so bad at first and why I’m so annoyed right now.)
This has to do with the interview of the Miami Hockey Coaches, which ostensibly was recorded on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, as part of Miami’s Oral History Project. We have several records documenting that the recording took place. It’s mentioned on an Oral History Project progress log. It’s included at the bottom of an Oral History Project archive list. It’s counted in the May 2009 Oral History Project final summary among the 11 completed sessions that hadn’t yet been posted on the bicentennial website. And it’s noted in a July 2009 narrative report. We just don’t have the recording—not yet at least. We’re still waiting for the university to provide me with two hockey-related recordings that they recently found to see if one or both or neither are the interview with the Miami Hockey Coaches. Hopefully, it’ll be any day now.
OK, so here’s the latest sequence of events:
On Thursday, June 16, 2022, a volunteer researcher named Kristin Woosley joined me and two other volunteers at Miami University Archives to look through Oral History Project records for evidence of recordings that hadn’t been posted online. The reason I cared so much about the unposted recordings was because I’d been wondering if one of the unposted recordings could have been an interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary in which she discussed the university’s investigation into Ron Tammen’s disappearance.
Kristin had been put in charge of reviewing the consent forms, which are the forms that were signed by all of the interviewees before their interview was conducted, usually on the same day. A consent form grants permission to the university by the person being interviewed to use their recording. If a participant didn’t sign one, the recording couldn’t be used, and it certainly couldn’t be posted online.
The forms had been placed in alphabetical order (for the most part) by last name in three manila folders: A-F, G-O, and P-Z, and Kristin was cross-checking the names against my master chart of recordings.
Early in the process—when she was only in the B’s of the A-F folder—she noticed a reference to a recording that wasn’t on my master chart: something having to do with hockey. The reason I didn’t include it on my chart was because I didn’t know anything about the Miami Hockey Coaches recording at that point. It wasn’t posted on the university’s bicentennial web pages. It wasn’t listed online with the Special Collections holdings of Oral History Project recordings. It wasn’t a blip on my radar.
Fortunately, Kristin happens to be an avid notetaker. She jotted down that person’s name. And then another. And another. And then one more.
She had only gotten as far as the E’s of that folder when I walked up to her table and announced that I’d found the Oral History Project’s final summary in which the names of four unposted recordings had been identified. None were of Carl Knox’s former secretary. Disappointed, I made the decision that we all switch directions and begin going through the tapes that University Archives staff had pulled for us, many of which were unlabeled. That’s how we spent the rest of our two-day visit.
A couple weeks later, after I’d had a chance to review the documents I’d photographed from the Oral History Project boxes—the progress log, the archive list, the final summary, and whatnot—I wrote Kristin an email:
Just wondering: When you were going thru the consent forms, did you happen to notice any forms signed by some Miami hockey coaches? I didn’t have a box for them on the chart because the interview was never posted anywhere—it’s not even listed on the Special Collections webpage, which lists pretty much everything. I know you didn’t have a chance to go thru them all, but I just wanted to check.
She responded within 15 minutes.
Yep, there were several in there but nothing on the master document about them.
She then sent me the names of several people. Three were former hockey coaches. One was a hockey broadcaster.
The rest of the summer came and went, and then, on Monday, October 3, I took a trip to University Archives to see the consent forms for myself. I wanted to take pictures of the four signed forms in the A-F folder, and I wanted to look in the G-O and the P-Z folders too.
Imagine my, um, consternation when I went through all three folders and realized that the consent forms that were signed by the three hockey coaches and the hockey broadcaster were missing. Sometime between June 17 and October 3 of this year, someone had visited the consent form folders of the Oral History Project—an endeavor that took place 13 years ago—and did a little housekeeping.
Fortunately, not only had Kristin written down the names of the hockey coaches in her spiral notebook in June, but she’d written down all of the names of the people in the A-F folder—hockey and non-hockey alike—up through the E’s, when I’d walked over to her table and gave her a new assignment. In addition, although I wasn’t able to photograph the hockey coach consent forms during my follow-up visit, I decided to snap pictures of each of the signed consent forms that are currently housed in that folder.
Before leaving, I told Jacky Johnson, the head archivist who oversees University Archives, about the four missing consent forms. She suggested I contact the Office of General Counsel.
Later in the day on October 3, Kristin emailed me the four pages of names that she’d saved. (Not only is Kristin an awesome notetaker but she saves stuff too!) I then conducted a side-by-side comparison with the pictures on my phone to find out how the folder’s contents had evolved in the past 3 ½ months. To make an apples-to-apples comparison, I stopped at the same place that Kristin stopped that day.
Here’s what I found:
- At least 11 consent forms from the Miami bicentennial’s Oral History Project have been added to the A-F folder since June. Several are for women whose forms had been refiled according to their last name at the time of the recording versus their maiden name. Others were for men and women whose forms had apparently been filed elsewhere before June of this year.
- Four consent forms were missing: the 3 former hockey coaches and the 1 hockey broadcaster, and it appeared as if only the hockey officials’ forms were missing from the A-F pile—at least up through the E’s.
I later reached out to University Archives staff to find out if the Oral History Project boxes were signed out by anyone else between June 17 and October 3 of this year. I also called the Office of General Counsel to find out if they had any knowledge of what might have happened to the missing consent forms.
Just as I was putting the finishing touches on my blog post (isn’t that always the case?), I received an email from Aimee Smart of the Office of General Counsel sending me the four consent forms, saying “These documents were placed with the one good hockey tape while we wait for the other hockey tape to be repaired. The entire collection will be catalogued, digitized, and added to the oral history project once we receive the repaired tape.”
She also said that had I asked for the consent forms in person, someone would have assisted me. I assured her that I did inquire about the consent forms in person and I was simply told to contact her. I was not told that the forms had been removed to sit with the one good tape while the damaged tape was being repaired.
So here you go, everyone. Here are the four consent forms that were signed by former Miami hockey coaches Enrico Blasi, Steve Cady, and William Davidge, and by hockey broadcaster Steve Baker, who is also listed as the interviewer.
It may very well be that the story circle of Miami Hockey Coaches actually took place and, if so, we may all get to watch that recording very, very soon. You’re welcome, y’all!
But with that said, I do have a few nagging questions:
- Why didn’t anyone from the Oral History Project want to venture an answer to my question regarding which recordings weren’t posted online, even after I’d named two of them outright? Don’t you think it would be memorable to someone if something had happened to a tape of Miami’s legendary hockey coaches?
- Why didn’t anyone seem to know anything about the hockey coach tape when I began asking about it?
- Why is it taking so long for them to provide the recordings, especially the “one good hockey tape,” which had ostensibly been located in mid-September?
- Why did they feel the need to remove the four hockey coaches’ consent forms from the Oral History Project box while the damaged tape was being repaired?
In a September 2 email to OGC, I’d stated that I was interested in reviewing the folders containing the consent forms that had been signed by interviewees as well as representatives of the Oral History Project. You’d think they would have made a note of that, particularly if they’d removed the hockey coach consent forms by then.
Addendum 10/6/2022: What about the worksheet?
In addition to the consent forms, I also looked through the documentation worksheets, which were the notes kept for all of the interviews that had been conducted. It included important details about the interview, including topics covered, participants’ names, the length of time, location, as well as the accession number. There was a lot of essential info there for processing the recording. Next to the tape recording itself, the worksheet was the most tangible evidence that an interview had taken place.
I hadn’t recalled seeing a worksheet for the hockey coaches’ interview when I was at University Archives in June, so I made a point of looking for it this past Monday. There is no worksheet under the title Miami Hockey Coaches or Hockey Coaches or Hockey Program or anything hockey-related. Any of those names should have been located in the G-N folder, although I checked them all, just in case. I did find the worksheet for the interview with the Village of Oxford Mayor and Chief of Police, which was conducted the day after the hockey coach interview. So…I still have questions about the hockey coach tape.