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Jenny Baker
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The History Corner: Reflections on the SIOP 2019 Living History Series With Benjamin Schneider

Margaret E. Brooks, Bowling Green State University

This past April, Benjamin Schneider was featured in the 2019 SIOP Living History Series interview in National Harbor, MD. You can watch the video of the interview here. Read on for a brief reflection on my experience talking with and interviewing Ben, and for some sneak peaks into what you’ll learn about in the video.

This was my first time doing the Living History Series interview, and it occurred to me early in the process (but after I was already committed) that I had never done a live interview like this before. I had no idea what I was doing. It seemed sensible to organize the interview chronologically, and I could plan some of the questions in advance, but what if I underestimated how long Ben’s responses would be and we only made it to age 30? Or what if he took the interview in an unexpected direction and I didn’t know how to respond? I had never thought about the kinds of skills it might require to do this kind of interview well.

Luckily, I could not have asked for a better interviewee. Ben told us about his career, his personal life, and the history of I-O psychology. He was interesting and entertaining. We made it from childhood to the present, and even had time for some questions; and it is all available on SIOP’s YouTube channel. Here are a few reasons to check out the interview:

  • Learn how Ben narrowly missed careers as a Sears Roebuck Company store manager and an Army Airborne Ranger.
  • Find out why Ben and (wife) Brenda call their son Lee the $25 baby.
  • Hear about a time when PhD programs had 10 comprehensive exams.
  • Listen to some of Ben’s thoughts about future directions for our field.
  • Find out more about how family, friends, and colleagues impacted Ben’s path.

Ben was generous with his time and his stories, and I enjoyed talking with him and learning about his career and some of the history of the field. Befitting of the author of “The People Make the Place,” much of the interview focused on the people around Ben who shaped his life and career. He expressed gratitude for the places his career has taken him and the people along the way who helped him get there. As Ben said in the interview: “It’s been a wonderful run.”

Thank you to everyone who provided me with thoughts and reflections about Ben, to past Historian Nathan Carter for his helpful advice, and to the SIOP office for doing a great job recording and editing the interview. And most, I want to thank Ben for bearing with me on my first try at this. I am so glad he was willing to share his story with us.

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