Oral history project underway

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Sep 03, 2014 - 02:13 PM

The Mathews County Historical Society is engaged in an ongoing project to record and document the stories that local residents have to tell.

The purpose of the project, said Forrest Morgan of MCHS, is to capture aspects of Mathews history that otherwise would be lost. To further the effort, a Festival of Oral History and Folklore is being planned for late October.

The project began several months ago, said Morgan. With a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the historical society hired University of Florida graduate student and professional oral historian Jessica Taylor to conduct 25 interviews of local people. The participants were selected from a list of names suggested by county residents, and matching funds for the grant were provided by the county as directed by the board of supervisors.

Those interviews have now been completed, said Morgan, and they’re in the process of being transcribed.

Once the transcripts have been completed and the people interviewed have made corrections, said Morgan, the documents will be digitized and made available online, probably after the first of the year. In addition, said Morgan, they will eventually be available in the historical society’s museum, which is now being planned for the second floor of Sibley’s, above the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center.

The Festival of Oral History and Folklore will be cosponsored by the Middlesex County Historical Society and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the University of Florida, said Morgan. It will include several events, including a panel of nationally recognized oral historians and folklorists and opportunities for more county residents to be the subject of oral history interviews.