Coney Island Voices: An Oral History Spectacle!

Coney Island Voices. Preserve stories and memories of Coney Island, and training school groups to do it: “Our mission is to record an oral history of the area and to sponsor educational exhibits. Working with schoolgroups in the neighborhood as well as College students, the Coney Island Voices project will teach young people the techniques of oral history, including interviewing, recording, editing and archiving.”

image It’s got a fantastic website. I’m a sucker for old photos of carnival & midway scenes, so I like the images. They’ve done a very nice job with a Flash audio player for the interviews on their website. You can browse by person or by subject. The Flash player for each interview is segmented by topic. So if you browse by topic, you go to an interview—right to the pertinent part. Very nice. The audio quality is a bit iffy, tho. (phone calls, background hums for the Coney Island memory booth).

The first exhibit put on by Coney Island Voices is Hall of Fame. “Inventors, performers, impressarios, and community leaders - these are among the many pioneers and visionaries whose creativity and ingenuity helped shape and define Coney Island over the past century.” It’s posted online. What’s in there is jaw-dropping:

Dr. Martin Arthur Couney saved the lives of thousands of premature infants at his Coney Island baby incubator exhibit. It is hard to believe that incubators were not used or accepted by the medical establishment until the 1930s. Couney was forced to make his clinic into a sideshow exhibit. Although the exhibit was located in an amusement park, the atmosphere inside was solemn and professional. Couney never charged parents a fee for the care he gave their infants. His clinic was financed strictly through entrance fees. [Read More]

and… The inventor of the Hot Dog!

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 28, 2006 in • Online Oral History Collections
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