Houston Arts and Media Donates Citywide Oral History Project
Houston, TX - April 4, 2007 - Houston Arts and Media's oral history gathering
project, called Neighbor to Neighbor, reached a milestone today with the
donation of the first portion of completed interviews, about 50 hours
of digital recordings, to the Houston Public Library's Houston Metropolitan
Research Center and to Rice University's Woodson Research Center for use
by future researchers.
The recording of these interviews started on a small scale in June 2006.
The organizers are very pleased with the initial results. HAM President
Mike Vance explains: "We wanted the stories of Houstonians from every
walk of life. So far we've talked to people from all over town, East End,
Heights, River Oaks, and from railroad workers, printers and teachers
to Dr. Denton Cooley. Without exception, people's eyes lit up when they
shared their early memories. What we're getting surpasses my greatest
N2N will continue to grow with hundreds more hours of interviews donated
to these research libraries as HAM enlists and trains even more local
volunteers in the skills they use to collect oral histories from their
longest tenured neighbors. The project also includes the collection and
digitization of vintage and modern photographs and memorabilia, to preserve
the smaller, more personal histories that are lacking in the published
works on our city's past. There is a sense of urgency in the work on N2N
as our neighborhood landmarks are vanishing under new development, and
our oldest living witnesses are being lost to time.
The histories, to be published over the next several years in more than
a dozen volumes as The Houston Neighborhoods Series, will give current
and future residents of these areas the story of how their neighborhood
developed; where their predecessors shopped, ate and played; what people
of note lived nearby; and what businesses inhabited current buildings
and sites. The material gleaned from these interviews will also lead to
books such as Historic Houston Schools and Historic Houston Churches.
Neighborhood to Neighbor is a large undertaking, requiring the efforts of scores of Houstonians. Houston Arts and Media is looking to engage its neighbors in this undertaking, so that we can compile the necessary pictures and interviews to preserve these important stories.
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