The Value of Oral Histories Beyond Discovery and Preservation
Libraries seeking to become the “Heart of their Communities” can reach out to their residents through oral history projects. These projects not only document and preserve the social memory of Mississippi’s communities, but also strengthen the connection between residents and institutions that serve them. By seeking out and engaging participants for oral histories from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, libraries demonstrate to constituents that every voice matters, and effectively promote available resources while garnering a broader public support. Mississippi State University Libraries is currently conducting two oral history projects: the Starkville Civil Rights Project and the Mississippi Veterans Oral History Project. Using these two projects as examples, this presentation will demonstrate how libraries can connect to their communities, describe the methods and resources needed to undertake an oral history project, and list the benefits of creating oral histories in the library.