Three Coastal OH projects document life in North Carolina, Florida, California

From the newsbag, comes word of three projects to preserve life and lore of seaside areas in the face of change: North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Seaside, California (near Monterey), and Florida’s Apalachicola Bay

North Carolina’s Ocracoke and Hatteras islands: New stories gathered over 6-year period add to previous oral histories from 1970s. The collection will be sold as a two-CD set; CDs are interactive—select a particular village and go to stories from that place.

A native islander remembers when, before the weather bureau arrived, nobody had ever heard of the word hurricane. “We didn’t know about tornadoes or hurricanes, it was a bad nor’ easter or something like that,” said the islander in the study.

“Many old timers shake their heads at the fuss that is made in modern times with mass evacuations, FEMA teams, visits from helicopters, insurance adjusters and reporters,” claims the study.

“We didn’t worry about the storms because we didn’t have much to lose,” claims a native in a particular chapter. “Instead of carpeted floors, we had wood and would just sweep the mud and water out. We parked our cars on a hill, and the next day the storm was just over.”

Florida: The oral history transcripts are online, with audio excerpts at the Southern Foodways Alliance

The Florida’s Forgotten Coast Oral History Project pays homage to the men and women who have long worked the water, tonging for oysters, casting nets for shrimp and fish, and diligently cultivating soft-shell crabs. Over the course of the past four months, Southern Foodways Alliance oral historian, Amy Evans, has conducted three fieldwork-gathering trips to northwest Florida to document the seafood industry and life on the bay. People have drawn their livelihoods from the Apalachicola Bay and surrounding waters for generations, but their way of life is changing; the seafood industry is being squeezed out as tourism moves in. Oral history subjects tell stories of the days before Red Tide, when schools of mullet were as thick as oil, and when Tupelo honey was a local find, not a Hollywood star. More than fish tales and folklore, these are the stories of the men and women who have depended on the Apalachicola Bay for generations. [Read More]

Seaside, California (near Monterey). The project is underway, due for completion in 2008

The compilation of Seaside history is part of a larger work chronicling urban California communities in demographic transition. In Seaside’s case, that means going from a predominately black minority population to a predominately Latino minority population.

For the book and for archival purposes, McKibben will record interviews with Seaside residents that will eventually be available to the public at Seaside’s library.

“There are lots of reasons for people to be as they are,” McKibben said. “The only way to get into their hearts is through their history.” [Read More]

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 05, 2006 in • Online Oral History CollectionsOral history in the newsOral History Projects
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