Oral History Workshop May 22 -- Registration Open

The mission of a public library is to help members of our communities learn more about what interests them. It's not about what library staff think our community wants or what library staff think the community needs. Good public libraries do their best to give their customers what they ask to have.

Recent surveys indicate that BCL customers want to know more about the oral history process.

Indeed, we are surrounded by successful oral history projects. Who doesn't know about StoryCorps or the Veteran's Project? On a more local basis, you've probably read about the Beaufort Three Century Project. Odds are you may even have a nodding acquaintanceship with oral history techniques through stories handed down through your family. But oral history is not folklore. It is not gossip. It is not hearsay. It is not rumor-mongering.

Oral historians attempt to

  • verify their findings
  • analyze their findings
  • place their findings in an accurate historical context
  • while simultaneously being concerned with storage of their findings for use by others at a later time.

Obviously, then, one cannot just sit down on the spur of the moment, have a conversation with another person with some recording device taking down what is said, and properly term the conversation an "oral history" project. Conversely, oral history is not rocket science either. Like many aspects of life, oral history is a process.

Q: What's a well-intentioned person interested in doing a good job at capturing a competent oral history interview to do?

A: Come to our free Oral History Workshop to acquire the skills!

Oral history involves the application of a broad variety of skills. The Library (in union with other organizations) is offering our community a free opportunity to learn how to do oral history right drawing on the considerable skills of nearby experts! All you have to do is be one of the first 40 people to pre-register for the free Oral History workshop and show up ready and willing to learn lots about the oral history process on Saturday, May 22nd.

The Beaufort County Library, Penn Center, the Citadel Oral History Program and the Avery Research Institute for African American Culture and History are co-sponsoring a Free Oral History Workshop to help the community learn how to plan oral history projects that provide insight into the recent past for the future. The workshop will be held Saturday, May 22, 2010 from 10 am until 3 pm (with a break for lunch on your own) at the Beaufort Branch Library at 311 Scott Street. Pre-registration is required. Call 255-6468 or email cseabrook@bcgov.net to register. Space is limited to 40 participants.

Please note: Teachers, community activists, genealogists, members of a church, synagogue, club, fraternity, business or community group, and high school or college students are particularly encouraged to attend.

The interactive workshop will be led by staff from The Citadel Oral History Program and Avery Research Center. The workshop will cover each aspect of the oral history process, including project planning, interview strategies, recording technology, and archiving. The program will be of value to those involved in family or community projects that are well underway and those in the planning stages.

You can learn more about The Citadel Oral History Program and its workshops before you make a commitment to participate in this free "oral history" training interactive workshop by clicking here.

To Register: Call the Beaufort District Collection at 843-255-6468 or e-mail cseabrook@bcgov.net.

I like to think that I work for a good public library, one that responds to the expressed needs of the taxpayers who provide financial support for the public library system. Prove me right by signing up to participate in this Oral History Workshop on Saturday, May 22nd. (Yes, I am a participant, too! We'll be learning more about the oral history process together.)

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.