This is so cool. This Mesa, Arizona oral history project is a cooperative effort of Westwood High School and the Mesa Historical Society. Why is it cool? Because I know Sarah Moorehead, who’s named in the article. She’s the chairwoman of the oral history committee for the historical society. All the interviewees live in the Escobedo housing project, which was originally built to house WW2 soldiers, and then later became a public housing project. The city-owned property will be sold, and residents will move. But first, their stories and memories of the place will be preserved.
Here’s what Sarah Moorehead has to say about the oral history project:
Now that the city housing is closing, Moorehead said it’s become more urgent to preserve its history, because departing residents are taking their memories with them.
“When you have current history, there’s a limited number of ways to really save that history. Personal experiences are a very important part of that,” she said.
So often, documented city history focuses on leaders, often white males.
“But they have little to say about the average person and what the everyday life of an average person was like,” she said. “Our society is so much more than what our political leaders are doing.”
The recording was a bootlegged Woodie Guthrie live concert. 1949. Original format is something called a wire recording – which predates widespread use of the magnetic tape recorder. Getting a 50+ year old format to playback while making a recording off it was quite an effort. The Woody Guthrie Live Wire album won a Grammy was for “Best Historical Album” – the mathematics involved was to use ambient noise in the recording to re-set the tempo after portions were stretched and broken.
Shortly after September 11, 2001, a small, heavy package wrapped in brown paper arrived in the mail at the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York City. Inside was a mess of wires.
Guthrie’s daughter Nora eventually figured out that the suspicious package wasn’t a bomb, but rather a recording of her father on a device that predated magnetic tape. After a year of searching, she managed to track down someone with the equipment to play it.
What she finally heard was a bootleg recording of her father singing a live performance in 1949. It was the first time she had ever heard him perform in front of a live audience. He had developed Huntington’s chorea and stopped performing when she was a ...Read More
Friday’s episode of The Story, a public radio show about, well, stories and storytelling, is devoted to Katrina Browne’s family story. She discovered that her family –The DeWolfes from Bristol, Rhode Island– had been the largest slave trading family in the history of the U.S.
40 minutes of the hour-long show is a conversation with Katrina and Dick Gordon (The Story‘s host) about what Katrina did in response: visit the locations where the slave trade took place—Rhode Island, Ghana, Cuba. She invited members of the extended family to go, and 9 accepted. It’s a spell-binding listen.
Browne (along with Alla Kovgan and Jude Ray) made a documentary film from the trip—Traces of the Trade, which was just premiered at Sundance and will be shown on PBS’s P.O.V. this summer. (The timing of the film release is significant; it coincides with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slave tradiding.) A relative, Thomas DeWolf, went on that trip and wrote his ...Read More
Schenectady Gazette: Feb 21, 2pm (Thurs) at the Schenectady County Historical Society, there’ll be a presentation on how to conduct oral histories. The presenter is Ellen McHale, executive director of the Folklore Society, located in Schenectady. The Folklore Society participates in the Veterans History Project, too. Oh, and she’s taught workshops at the Erie Museum, Apple. (tee hee!) Small world.
I’m very stoked to see this Schenectady mention. My Mom grew up in Schenectady; her parents both worked at the General Electric Co. I’d been aware of the Schenectady Museum (lots of GE archives there, including some of my grandfather’s papers), and I’ve seen the Schenectady History site run, in part, by the library.
Thanks to this story, I’ve found a couple of new, Schenectady-related links:
GenealogyJamboree.blogspot.com. I always want to call it an Expo, for some reason.
A blog called Very Spatial links to a number of sources for using maps to create (or preserve) memories. An old post here was one destination, but the others in the post are worth a peek. Did you know the USGS has a Maps and Genealogy page?
“And the nominees for Best Family History Post are….” In keeping with the ending writer’s strike and the fact that the Academy Awards show must (and will) go on, the current call for entries for the Carnival of Genealogy is on the theme of Awards for Family History/Genealogy posts for 2007 (and the first 6 weeks of 2008). I’ve culled though my site archives, called in favors from dress designers and stylists, and am ready to walk the red carpet. Here, for your consideration, are nominees for awards of outstanding achievement in Family History and Genealogy weblog posting.
The Red Carpet. I’ve walked a red carpet once. No lie. The event was a US Premiere of a film for AFI Film festival. It was held (wait for it) in Beverly Hills at AMPAS, the American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscars place. On the sidewalk outside, there it was: red carpet. And velvet ropes along either side. I saw them, and gulped. My friend urged me hold my head up high, smile, and walk with confidence. I did. The paparazzi ignored us plebes, though. I also had a brush with a red carpet and awards ceremony almost exactly a year ago. A high-school friend was nominated for a Grammy, so I accompanied her to the Grammy Special Awards and Reception. Roped off red carpet ...Read More
Oral History training February 20th as part of effort to complete an oral history project for the Spirit Lake Centennial Celebration. The link leads to fellow blogger Miriam at Ancestories; she’s got all the details.
NMAAHC launches an online museum before its physical museum is constructed. Sponsored by the Smithsonian, the site hosts online holdings from its own archives and includes a Memory Book where people who to tell their own stories (mostly text-based) and submit images may do so. [via WRT] The virtual museum has lots and lots to explore.
The site makes prominent use of tags. So the Sojourner Truth entry, for example, is tagged women’s rights, abolition, activism, autobiography. The flash-based navigation widget toward the top of the page (or in a larger, separate window) allows you to explore different connections, from moments in history to topics to persons. You can follow threads that connect one to the next. With each click, the navigation widget loads up a new page and redraws new connections.
The virtual museum has ties to StoryCorps. There a page with 45 audio excerpts of StoryCorps Griot interviews. Go. Click. Listen.
Studs Terkel’s Hope Dies Last has been my bedtime reading of late. Studs interviewed a number of people (post 9/11) on the topic of hope. (The book was published in 2003.) The book has stories from a range of people, ranging from notable figures (Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay) and John Kenneth Galbraith, elected officials, teachers, clergy, musicians, activists, organizers, students, and more.
I’m not quite done with the book, but today—the day after Super Tuesday, which is also Ash Wednesday—is a good day to write about it. (I’m giving up reading political blogs for lent, a hard thing to do today, especially, since my state held an election yesterday. The upside is that posting here ought to increase accordingly. )
On this site, I veer away from politics and religion. Still, hope runs through both of those topics. And today, a little of politics and a little of religion, and a lot of oral history find common ground in Terkel’s book. Hope Dies Last offers a fascinating glimpse into contemporary history. These are the stories that aren’t “before my time” but during my ...Read More
[UPDATED] My story about last Saturday’s Storycorps is coming. It’ll be a big photo essay. Lotsa details. Alas, tho, it’s been one of those weeks, so it’s not done yet. Here’s a wee preview – the end product, the disk. (click thumbnail to enlarge)
Update: It’s here!!. Oh, and the L.A. Times did a story on StoryCorps in MacArthur Park
I love the internets. Yesterday, I did a news roundup and saw that a lecture would be taking place today in Syracuse at the Erie Canal Museum. I drooled at the topic: Myth and History. When family or community stories are mythologized – whether by accident or on purpose – and how this isn’t so great for future generations. I’d love to go. Now, I live in the Los Angeles area, so of course I wasn’t able to get there. But I happen to notice that Apple of Apple’s tree recently blogged about a house in Syracuse. Hm. Is Apple close to Syracuse? Does she know about the lecture? Is her schedule free? I sent her an email. Her answers: Yes, She does now, and Yes!!! Color me stoked.
At Creating Lifelong Learners, Mathew kicks off the Digital Storytelling Blog Carnival. The carnival is monthly, and is geared toward video (if you’ve seen my movie, Interviewing my Mom about her Mom, you know that ‘video’ is subject to wider interpretations). A good set of links if you’re interested in telling stories using digital video. Submit entries here.
Here’s a roundup of stories about oral history in the news. One is for an event that takes place in Syracuse, NY, tomorrow at the Erie Canal Museum. Wish I could be there.
Syracuse, NY, Saturday, January 19, 1pm: Erie Canal Museum’s speaker series starts off with a session I’d like to attend: “Robert Arnold kicks off the series with “Myth and History: Distilling the Truth.” Sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposefully we mythologize our family and community histories, offering the future no service by doing so.”
Daily Mail (UK) reviews Studs Terkel’s book, Touch and Go, and gives a bit of profile of the man, telling how interactions with the residents of his parents’ boarding house shaped him: “These waifs and strays were the making of Terkel, teaching him how to listen and how to feel empathy.”
I whiled away a bit of time last night adding tags to photos. At first, I thought, Oh, there’s nothing to add. But then I discovered that there were tags I could add. (in the process, I discovered that there are two ways to spell bandolier/bandoleer, the criss-cross belt worn on the torso that holds ammunition. Who knew?)
I’d love to see more tags added by those who know fashions and can name the style of jacket, or hat. I mean sombrero and bowler I know, but what about the type of caps worn by boys in 1910, or the style of jacket lapels or decorations on a woman’s dress? And tho I found much to admire in outfits worn by people, I certainly didn’t want to add stylin’ as a tag.