The Fairmont Oral History project, launched in 2015, records the stories and perspectives of members of the Fairmont community.
Team members Jewell Walker-Harps, John Cruickshank, Richie Braman, Be-Atrice Cunningham, Ellen Bauske, Art Cain and
Emily Williams emphasized that the work takes the cooperation of all of their members — who each plays a different role such as setting up interviews, conducting interviews, recording the material, conducting research and securing funding.
“This will be research archives talking about a crucial period just prior to, during and after Civil Rights integration in a small town in Georgia,” Bauske said. “I think that’s a really unique historical perspective.”
They said it is important to record the stories of the past before they are lost.
Walker-Harps said it is important to her to reconnect people with the values of the community’s past. She said she hopes the stories “restore faith in ourselves and in our past.”
Cunningham said, “If you look at history and look at newspapers, you don’t find the history from the perspective of the African American. I think it’s important to preserve that history by going out and talking the people that have been through that experience.”
Cain said that oral history has a long tradition. “For African Americans, much of our history is oral history. There have been points in our history where things didn’t get written down. It’s been documented through (oral) stories.”
The team does not only talk to people. They record audio of each interview. After, the audio is sent to UGA’s Richard B. Russell Library in Athens where it is archived.
The collection is also available online and the archives include keywords and timestamps to make it easy for researchers to quickly search the recordings for information related to their projects.
Bauske said the team hopes to conclude the interview process this year.
“We want to conduct 12 more interviews which will give us a package of 30 and that pretty well describes the neighborhood and that historical moment,” Bauske said.
Once the interviews are complete, the recordings will be indexed and then a subset of the recordings will be transcribed.
Anyone who wishes to listen to the collection can do so online at https://kaltura.uga.edu/category/Griffin+African+American+Oral+History+Collection/73671041.
By Jennifer ReynoldsSTAFF WRITER [email protected]