How To Collect Your Community Stories

Presented by John Williams.

(Presentation can be tailored to meet the needs of your organization.)

This presentation focuses on Oral History and its value to a community. Dr. Williams will share stories from two projects which he directed: the Appalachian Oral History Project and the Great Smoky Mountains Project. In the late 1970s Dr. Williams was one of the campus directors for an oral history project which covered four states in Appalachia. Funded by a grant from Rockefeller, Ford, NEH and other agencies, the AOHP was responsible for collecting thousands of interviews with mountain people. As a result, the book Our Appalachia: An Oral History was published. The Smoky Mountain Project took place in 1983 when Dr. Williams was part of a team in Tennessee who were hired by the state to collect Folklore traditions. Dr. Williams and others set up recorders and copy stands in Sevierville and invited family members who had been displaced from the Park to return with their stories and photographs.   In this technical presentation Dr. Williams will discuss the theory and techniques behind designing a similar project in your own community using modern technology. A major focus is grant – writing and other forms of fundraising. Participants will be asked to share their personal stories and to suggest ideas for oral history projects in their neighborhoods.

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