Tag Archives: Oral History

Franco American Music and Stories Sought


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dave-ruch-540x366Buffalo based musician and teaching artist Dave Ruch is seeking information on Franco American musicians and singers, past and present, from the Northern New York area.

Ruch is researching French American musical traditions for an upcoming project with Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY). Past collaborations between Ruch and TAUNY have included the “W is for the Woods” website on traditional Adirondack music, and the Emmy-winning “Songs to Keep” project. Continue reading

My First Year As A Local History Librarian


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2015-12-12-ScannersIn mid-October, I marked my first anniversary as the “local history librarian” at the White Plains Public Library. Four years earlier, I was a library clerk at an urban public library trying to figure out how to make a job out of my seemingly varied interests. I liked direct service, helping people, but I also valued more solitary, research driven work. I knew Intellectual freedom and a progressive, supportive community were a necessary part of any job I might hold, but I did not want to obtain a PhD or set out on my own for the wilds of self-employment. I knew I loved education, but I didn’t want to be a teacher. So the world has another librarian.

Through a friend, I began working at Albany Public Library as a Library Clerk and found the public library united my passions for working with people and knowledge in a democratic, autonomous space. Librarians can be educators without being constricted by the bureaucracy that comes with teaching. Librarians can also be historians, but don’t have to work within the traditional academic or museum systems, where publishing requirements or institutional obligations can take up lots of time. Attracted as I am to intellectual autonomy and the propagation of alternative historical voices, working as a local history librarian looked like a perfect opportunity to see if I could manifest some of these values. Continue reading

This Holiday Season Record Your Family’s Oral History


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Oral History Home InterviewsBy combining technology with time-honored techniques of interviewing and storytelling, this holiday season can be an ideal time for people to hear and preserve eyewitness accounts of life experiences from loved ones for future generations, says an historian at Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History.

“One thing almost all Americans share is regret that when we were children, we did not listen better when our parents, grandparents and older relatives or friends told stories about people and places alive only in their memories,” said Lois Myers, associate director of the institute. “Such oral traditions may be the most fragile links to our family history.”

With sound or video recordings, people can uncover and preserve the origins of family rituals — such as holiday celebrations, common sayings or even recipes, Myers said. Continue reading

Historic Site Seeks Yonkers Immigration Stories


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Philipse Manor HallPhilipse Manor Hall State Historic Site is designing an exhibit about the rise of Yonkers as an immigrant city, set for a phased opening beginning in September 2016. From its start as a Lenape fishing village and Dutch patroonship, to the industrious peak of the 1900s, and into modern times, the growth of Yonkers can be attributed to the various ethnic groups that have settled in the area.

The site is seeking local first- and second-generation immigrants to assist with the creation of this exhibit. Interviews will be conducted on an ongoing basis through the remaining months of 2015. Continue reading

Bronx Stories of Courage, Commitment


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Bronx Faces and VoicesIn Bronx Faces and Voices: Sixteen Stories of Courage and Commitment (Texas Tech University Press, 2014) sixteen men and women – religious leaders and activists, elected officials and ordinary citizens tell their personal, uncensored stories of the New York City borough — before, during, and after the troubled years of arson, crime, abandonment, and flight in the 1970s and 1980s.

The interviews are drawn from the Bronx Institute Archives Oral History Project’s interviews with hundreds of Bronx residents in the early 1980s, now held in the Special Collections division of the Leonard Lief Library of Lehman College, CUNY. Continue reading

National Park Service Hosting ‘Community Conversation’


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eleanor-rooseveltBeginning in the late 1940s historians with the National Park Service collected stories from friends, neighbors and staff of the Roosevelts and Vanderbilts. The tradition of recording people’s memories and using them to understand our history, and the people who created it carries on to this day.

The National Park Service and the Sound and Story Project have teamed up to offer two special events to be held at the Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site, in Hyde Parak, NY. Continue reading

Oral Tradition in Historical Scholarship:
The Dutch, The Iroquois, and The Two Row Wampum


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13220774-largeThe challenge of contact in the 17th century between the Dutch and the Iroquois was brought to life in the 21st century with a symbolic summer journey from western New York to the United Nations to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum and its message.

That event was the subject of several posts on The New York History Blog. I wrote about the scholarly challenges posed by the Two Row Wampum; Naj Wikoff, an artist active in the Lake Placid region, also wrote about the the Two Row Wampum, acknowledging that there is not a written record of the treaty, nor does the physical object exist, but the oral tradition of the event is valid and its message remains relevant. Continue reading