Monday, May 4, 2009

Oral History Blurb

Here's my attempt
Oral History is a complex history, a human history, and a voluminous one. Perhaps it is best understood by approaching it the way one might approach an archaeological site, examining it layer by layer, piece by piece. “Oral” tells us that it is spoken, that there is a voice, one human voice that drives it, one voice with which it all begins. “History” tells us that this one voice speaks of past events, of memory and all its shifting, unreliable whims. But it is this unreliability, this personal quality that makes Oral History so valuable. It complicates the sterilized, official story, challenges it with the perceptions of traditionally ignored participants, the individual human voices, our voices. We are all witnesses to history and our individual stories balance the “facts,” bringing us closer to, if not the truth, then perhaps a truer understanding.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Titles for Exhibit

ps to my last post:

Titles are so often difficult! But, because of the idea of voices, layers, and other things, that were mentioned in class last Monday, I've started noticing things that may go along with that idea. I was reading a poem this past week by Nick Flynn, called "Radio Thin Air." In it he says, "Marconi believed/we are wrapped in voices." And I just wanted to share that with everyone, because I loved that, "wrapped in voices," and the idea that in all these oral histories, there are many voices surfacing, and those who experience those stories and who are drawn into them, are literally wrapped in the voices that speak them.

Anyway, just wanted to share that!

(Brian Gadbois)
I was born in Manhattan, on Christopher Street, probably the gayest street in the city, I never knew if my father was straight or maybe he went both ways. I grew up in the Village ‘till I was about five and then I moved to the Berry Project. I lived in the Berry Project until I was 11 and then I moved to…my dad bought a house in Eltingville and I moved there. Um…what else do you want to know? Eh? And then I went to the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, uh…I went to my junior year. I had a teacher who was a pervert and I was going out with this girl in school and I was only 4’11 and this guy…uh…I went into the bathroom and I came out and this girl was in there and she was a little Italian girl, cute little Italian girl, and I was looking for her and everyone was looking kinda funny so I knew something was going on, and I asked where she was and they said in the bathroom and I walked in and she was crying and it turned out that this teacher…she was in a play, she had to unbutton the top button of her dress and he said “you’re doin’ it wrong” and he went over and unbuttoned a couple of other buttons to her dress and…uh…I was a very non-violent person but I took a chair and broke it over his face. And he told me there was nothing he could do to me because he was a real perv…and…he told me he’d get me back the following year and get me thrown out of the school so uh…I quit high school, I went to the Navy.
This was the very beginning of an interview I did back in March (I think) with one of my father's friends. I just loved how he kept asking me what I wanted to know, but then he would just continue right on, one story into another.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Separate But Not Equal - Carol P. Bartold

On September 4, 1954, eleven black students entered the 10th grade at Milford High School in Milford, Delaware. Civil rights leaders in the state decided to test the May, 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision reached in the Brown vs. Board of Education. The decision struck conventional wisdom of providing a "separate but equal" education for black public school students.

I interviewed Orlando Camp, one of the original eleven students who enrolled at Milford High School in 1954.
"There were no black high schools in Milford. There was Jason High School in Georgetown and William Henry High in Dover. This was a real coup for us as minority students because we felt, for the first time, that we would have the opportunity to get a quality education. And theat was the only goal we really had in terms of integration. We did not consider the mixing of the races as something we were advocating."

"On the fourth or fifth day of the first week of school the crowds began to multiply outside the school to the point there were hundreds of people standing outside, protesting, calling us names. We started going to school in State Police cars."

"This is an example of the separate but equal school, William Henry High School. It's all modern, all glass and state of the art. "

My thanks to the Delaware Public Archives for giving me access to supporting material, including the papers of Governor Caleb Boggs. I also thank the Graduate Student Senate of Sarah Lawrence College for funding to cover travel and research.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Christina's Mission Statement

We go through each day surrounded by untold stories. Maybe there was a time when they could not be told; maybe they were told but since forgotten. Through oral history, we find the memories that are submerged beneath daily life, and give them a way out so others can hear them. By sharing the histories of individuals, we become closer to discovering a history of ourselves in the vast context of our world.

Exhibition Title Ideas:
Archaeology of Memory
Beneath the Lives You Know
Talk to the Story-Keepers

Words for Titles: