The Worcester Women’s Oral History Project (WWOHP) has entered into a partnership with the New England Archivists (NEA), the Worcester Historical Museum, and the Worcester Cultural Development Office in an effort to collect the oral histories of members of Worcester’s immigrant community. WWOHP will hold an oral history workshop on March 23 on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross during the New England Archi-vists’ Spring Conference.
The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will offer those in attendance the basic skills needed to record, collect, and share oral histories. Topics that will be covered include the value of oral history, the importance of listening, how to set up an interview, what equipment to use, and transcription tips. Attendees will be prepared to begin collecting oral histories immediately.
This workshop is part of a larger effort by the NEA entitled, Why Worcester, which will involve StoryCorps, the organization that has conducted and preserved over 40,000 interviews since 2003. Millions of listeners are familiar with the weekly broadcasts of StoryCorps on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Facilitators from StoryCorps will come to Worcester to conduct recording sessions. In these sessions two individuals who know each other well will be interviewed. These people could be family members, neighbors, colleagues, etc. Using their mobile recording booths, the StoryCorps staff will be available for three days to record eight to ten interviews with 16 to 20 participants. Following the interview, each interviewee will receive a copy of his/her recording. At the conclusion of this process, the interviews and photographs of participants will be deposited at the Worcester Historical Museum, the NEA’s archives at the University of Connecticut, and the StoryCorps archives.
WWOHP is honored to be part of this effort to capture the stories of individuals whose voices previously may have been absent from the historical record. Why Worcester? is seeking to reach two audiences, Worcester’s diverse immigrant population and the general public. There are many questions to be considered as these stories unfold. Among them are: what immigrant groups are moving to Worcester and why; what makes Worcester hospitable to immigrants; how does society move in a direction to give voice to the voiceless; and what are the different ways in which local history is collected?
Anyone with an interest in oral history is encouraged to attend the free workshop. We especially welcome immigrants, genealogists, local historians, students, archivists, academics, as well as those individuals who are interested in preserving stories within their families. To register, please visit the NEA website, www.newenglandarchivists.org where you will find a link to the conference.