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Celebrate Kentucky Oral History Day 2017

“I never met a Kentuckian who wasn't either thinking about going home or actually going home.”

A.B. Happy Chandler

On Friday, Oct. 20 the Kentucky Oral History Commission administered by the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) will be celebrating the third annual Kentucky Oral History Day. We invite interviewers, archivists, historians, scholars, genealogists and anyone who appreciates oral histories to participate in their own way within their own community. Last year, we asked Kentuckians to “do one thing” for oral history.

This year, we’d like you consider the theme of “homecoming.” What can you do to collect, preserve, present and enjoy oral histories that tell the story of your local community? For example, The William H. Berge Oral History Center and Eastern Kentucky University have a full day of oral history-related events and activities planned for Oct. 20. EKU’s University Ensemble members will be celebrating their 50th Year Reunion that day.

The Ensemble is a late 1960s student-initiated gospel choir that provided African American students at Eastern with a social and spiritual outlet during a time of high racial tensions and civil unrest. Participation in the ensemble resulted in lifelong relationships that have continued to enrich the lives of those students, now alumni. The Berge Center and several other university departments are partnering to conduct interviews, provide student trainings in preservation and curation, and working in the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS).

It will be a true homecoming for the ensemble members and an opportunity to capture their history and share their impact within the university and beyond. Meanwhile, KHS will be celebrating more sedately by preparing for a community oral history workshop to take place in Hopkinsville on Oct. 21, and working on a podcast series featuring clips from our collections to debut in November. You, too, can celebrate oral history locally by picking one or more of the following activities:

Collect. Think strategically about the gaps in your collection on local topics with historical relevance. What personalities have yet to be recorded? Create a timeline and devise strategies to address underrepresented historical events and communities in your region.

Preserve. Familiarize yourself with professional standards and best practices. Inventory your collections, establish a digitization workflow or investigate implementing OHMS. Manage and take good care of your local repository.

Present. Promote your existing collections. Upload or update your repository on Pass the Word. Find fun and interesting ways to engage the general public in listening to digitized interviews. You don’t have to create a podcast; try introducing clips posted to SoundCloud on your Facebook page.

Share. Show and tell us what you’re doing for the oral history homecoming, using the hashtag #kyoralhistoryday on social media.

Procrastinate. If you can’t get anything together before Oct. 20, you can always celebrate with us by participating in “Saving Our Stories” at the Museum of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County where we’ll be conducting a session on how to interview family, friends and others from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (CDT).


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