Dear Houstonians,

Please let me start by introducing our organization. We are Houston Arts and Media, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized in the State of Texas for the purpose of producing educational and historical film, video and books. We plan on producing work that we feel is important, but not commercial enough to be done by a for-profit enterprise. We have a deep interest in, and affection for the history of our great state and city. I’m hoping that you share that interest and affection, and that you might find it worthwhile to assist us in what will be a large and rewarding project.

Of all of our projects are designed to teach Texas and Houston history, our oldest is the Neighbor to neighbor Oral History Project. It is designed to capture everyday stories from longtime Houstonians so that we can preserve knowledge of our city from the Heights, East End – Second Ward, Montrose West U – Rice Village, and so on. The idea is for current and future residents of a given neighborhood to really get a feel for what their home area was like whether in the 1850s or the 1950s. We want them to know where the previous occupants of their very homes might have shopped, played and gone to school.

Obviously, gathering all of these diverse stories is much more than a one or two person job. So we are hoping that people with an interest in our community will embrace the value in this work and join us in recording interviews with these longtime Houstonians and others who have an interesting story to tell. After the interviews have been transcribed, all of the audio recordings will be donated to the Houston Public Library’s Houston Metropolitan Research Center and Rice University's Woodson Research Center to be archived and available for all time.

The information that we glean from the interviews will be utilized in many of our video and web projects and in books such as Historic Schools of Harris County. Copies of all of these books will be donated to area libraries and schools. We also plan to run small printings of them for sale as a fundraising tool for Houston Arts and Media. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go back into funding future educational and historical projects to be done by people from our local creative, research and production communities. This is absolutely not a commercial, for-profit undertaking.

We have worked up some materials on doing the interviews such as a few guidelines, some suggestions on where they might begin locating interesting interview subjects and several dozen suggested questions and areas of discussion. The idea is to get the interview subjects to tell their stories. All that we ask of the potential interviewers is to have some sort of digital audio recording device and to give of their time. Houston Arts and Media will try to be as helpful as we can, too.

To that end we are most interested in also speaking with longtime Houstonians who might have interesting memories to share. If you feel that is the best way for you to contribute to this project, we'd like to hear from you, as well. You can, of course, be both an interviewer and an interview subject.

We are especially interested in getting electronic copies of early pictures of interest. If you can help us with that, let us know. If necessary, we can make an appointment to come to you with a scanner.

Please consider the oral histories project, and what its value can be to our community today and in the future. If you think you might be interested in helping out, please contact us via e-mail at info@houstonartsandmedia.org. We will be most happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thanks very much for your consideration,

Mike Vance, Executive Director
Houston Arts and Media

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