What Have We Been Up To Lately? Coastal Change, Oral History Association, and Trauma Talk

Jen Cramer (center) and Darcy Wilkins (right) talking with Vanessa West (left) at West St. Mary High School

It’s been a very busy semester!  Below are a few of the projects that the Williams Center has been working on lately.

Louisiana Sea Grant (LASG) has invited the Williams Center to partner with them on an exciting new oral history project.  The Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal Changes Oral History Project — launched by Dianne Lindstedt, Roy Kron, and Darcy Wilkins — will get students in South Louisiana parishes to document, through oral history interviews, how changes like sea level rise, erosion, increased flooding, and disappearing wetlands are affecting the people and culture of the region.  Lindstedt and Kron are the project investigators on the NOAA-funded grant project and Wilkins is the research associate coordinating the project.  The goal of the project is to collect oral histories that will add to scientific studies of the region and foster a sense of stewardship and learning among the students.

As the director of the Williams Center, my role in this partnership is twofold:  to act as a consultant to LASG in the design and implementation of the oral history components of the project, and to lead training workshops with teachers and students.  The Center’s audio engineer, Jenn Tiegs, has been assisting in all things related to audio engineering and preservation.  The Center will be housing, processing, and preserving the oral histories collected from this project.  The interviews will later be available on LASG’s website, as well as through the Williams Center on the LOUISiana Digital Libraries.

Teachers from four high schools in South Louisiana are participating.  Sue Ellen Lyons, Lonn Ellzey and Warren Bernard are leading Holy Cross School High School students from Orleans Parish.  David Sneed, Jed Pitre and Jenna Galjour of Thibodaux High School in Lafourche are heading the project with their students.  Vanessa West is leading students at West St. Mary High School in St. Mary Parish.  Tina Savoie is leading her class of environmental science students at South Cameron High School in Cameron Parish.  This is a year-long project with the possibility of expansion.  Darcy, Dianne, and I have visited each of these schools for student training and we look forward to the second and third stages of the project which will include processing the interviews, creating secondary sources, and having a community presentation.  For more information on the project, see the following links from Sea Grant:



Also check out the online workshop videos (Day 1) (Day 2) of the teacher training workshop featuring yours truly and guest speakers, Dr. Lynn Carter, Dr. Toby Daspit, and Dr. Michael Pasquier.

We will keep you posted on this project as it unfolds!


Darcy Wilkins, Jenn Tiegs, and Erin Hess getting coffee before conference talks begin outside the hotel in Cleveland, OH

Now, on to the the annual Oral History Association (OHA) Conference, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio, last month.  Erin Hess, Jenn Tiegs, and I attended, and we were joined by Darcy Wilkins, the research associate leading the LASG project mentioned above.  As you may know, Erin is the manuscripts processor who processes our oral history collections.  Jenn Tiegs, also mentioned above, is with the Digital Assets Management unit in Special Collections, and she serves as the Center’s audio engineer.

At the conference, Erin and I co-presented “What Endures: Producing and Publishing an Oral History Podcast” in a session chaired by Robert Wettemann of the U.S. Air Force Academy, called Innovating with Voices: Contemporary Uses of Oral History Interviews.  Our presentation was a follow-up to an article recently published online in Oral History in the Digital Age, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  I also served on a panel with fellow Oral History Review journal editors provocatively titled, “Should the Oral History Review Be Published Online-Only? If Not Now, When?” chaired by Troy Reeves from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The session highlighted the most recent issue (Volume 39:2), which had an important new media component featuring content that can only be accessed online.  In addition to all of that networking and session-hopping, Jenn, Erin, Darcy and I all attended professional development workshops about oral history and the law, oral history and video, and oral history in the digital age.  You can see more info on the conference here.  Also, stay tuned for a podcast episode about our experiences at the conference.

And most recently, in fact this past weekend, I presented a paper at the American Musicological Society, Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Society for Music Theory. The panel was titled, Oral History and Cold War Studies: Methodological Perspectives and Notes from the Field. My paper was on trauma and oral history.  For more info about the panel, see the abstract.



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