The Riots of 1964 — Chapter 11

Research Director’s Report
Manning Van Nostrand, Director of Research

The Interview Schedule

The most rich tool used by research in the Project was an interview schedule designed to be given by one individual to another individual. Because this schedule was given to a randomly selected group of young people on the beach, it came to be called the “random interview”. this schedule was an attempt to provide information about the young people that would help us gain as deep and thorough a perspective as possible on the many characteristics of the young people who come to the beach community across the summer period. The random interview was designed to be a springboard to discussion rather than a questionnaire. As mentioned earlier in this report, much of the effectiveness of the interview data gathered depended upon the interviewer. In some cases, the interviewer’s lack of experience did not help us gather the kinds of information which would have been valuable. Obviously, the test could have been much more extensive than the hour limit which was somewhat arbitrarily imposed. Under the condition of a relaxed, leisure-time atmosphere, however, it was decided that a more compact type of interview was desirable. Another kind of limitation was the very nature of the Hampton Beach Project itself. The project was basically not a research Project. The research aspect of the Project was supposed to test the effectiveness of a demonstration program. The kinds of information which were gathered extraneous to that limited scope would have the benefit of providing clues to more precise methods of program formulation. With these kinds of qualifications of research limits and boundaries of inexperience in the interviewers themselves, the interview schedule set about to gather information about the young people who were on Hampton Beach during the summer of 1965.

One might group the information sought after by this schedule under eight general categories or clusters. These categories and some of the specific items within each category are listed below.

  1. Physical and External Social Circumstances

    Name, address, sex, date of birth, number of years school completed, occupation, do you own a car?, musical interests, etc.

  2. Life Aspirations and/or Values

    Vocation (ideal, “realistic,” female-husband), Marriage age most desirable, last thing you would give up, what do young people worry about, how would you change yourself, etc.

  3. Beach Behavior

    Where do you sleep while here?
    How did you get to the beach?
    What did you do while at the beach?
    What attracted you to the beach?
    Did you attend any special youth activities?

  4. Peer Group Life

    How big is the group (on the beach) you travel with?
    Who is in the group?
    Comment on way males-females dress.

  5. Arrested

    What were you picked up for?
    Were you in a group when you were picked up?
    Who picked you up?
    How were you treated?

  6. Attitudes toward Adult World

    L. Describe State, Local and Police in General.
    Describe business proprietors on beach
    Do you get your money’s worth at the beach?
    How do adults explain the actions of youth?
    How many people can you talk with, trust?
    What do people value most, work hardest for?
    How would you change the world?

  7. Beach Interests, Needs and Attitudes

    What programs interest you most?
    What do you miss on the beach that isn’t here now?

  8. School and life in general

    These questions were asked only at the end of the summer when the data from the interviews of the 1964 rioters became available. The information had to do with school conditions and about the world situation in general.

There was a very serious attempt made by the members of the staff to obtain as true a sample of beach youth as possible. The problem, of course, at this point is that no one had any idea as to what the characteristics of the youth population at the beach were. It was therefore difficult to obtain what might be a rigorously defined sample. Probably because the youth were instructed at the outset of the Project to obtain interviews from different types of youngsters, to be watchful for repetitious groupings, we can assume that the conscientiousness of the members of the youth staff made it possible for us to obtain as valid a sample as possible under the existing circumstances. We are assuming for purposes of expediency, if nothing else, that we have a good cross-section represented in this random interview, and that, insofar as the information gathered by this test is applicable to any other situation, it represents the true picture of youth on Hampton Beach in the summer of 1965.

Method of Data-Presentation in this Report on the Interview Schedule

Perhaps the most obvious thing to do when presenting the data gathered by this instrument is to present the findings under the general categories of the schedule. However, this may not be the most interesting or effective way of presenting the data. We shall attempt to present the data in such a way as to see it in terms of three general groups of young people on the beach. While this might be somewhat more repetitious, it has the advantage of seeing the data in terms relevant to the youth population. The three groups which will be under consideration will be those youngsters who were arrested as over against those who were not arrested, those who were involved in specially designed youth programs by the C.A.V.E. organization of the Project compared with those who were not, and what might be considered the “average” youngster on the beach in contrast with that youngster who perceives himself as being an isolate. (Whether or not we can make the assumption that this youthful individual is “alienated”, is a moot question. Yet, the indication would certainly seem to be that there would be, if other factors are present, grounds to form at least a hypothetical statement.)

Obviously, these are overlapping groups. These groups seem to represent the major types of groupings among the teenage population of Hampton Beach – at least from the conceptual standpoint. It should not be assumed that we will be describing three mutually exclusive groupings of young people, but rather clusters of characteristics which seem to have a certain kind of regularity about them. If indeed, these three groupings of young people are present on the beach, and if their characteristics are distinctive, it would seem that we may be gaining some genuine insights into the possibilities of meeting the varying needs of the young people. Certainly, there should be no stereotyping of the youth of Hampton Beach. While this device will hopefully have some heuristic value, it should be noted at the outset that the device which was used does not have the kind of precision necessary for a finely delineated study of youth culture. For example, Estaver in his section of the report notes that there are various cliques among the youth on the beach. In no way does this instrument attempt to measure the various effects this kind of social patterning might have. There would have been an interesting bit of research, we can now say in retrospect, to be done on who was an in-beach group member and who was an out-beach group member. Obviously, the possibilities of a study of youth culture on Hampton Beach are virtually endless!