After a successful inaugural year, a community oral history project at Norwich University invites more participants, including alumni, Northfield residents, university supporters and past and present employees, to share their stories.
The Norwich Voices Oral History Project at the Sullivan Museum and History Center is a three-year pilot project to collect and preserve the stories of the Norwich community. The project’s theme focuses on the training of the citizen-soldier, and particular attention will be paid to stories of service and leadership woven through reminiscences. Funded through the generosity of the Tawani Foundation (Chicago, Ill.), the project runs until 2017.
Interviews will be transcribed, cataloged and indexed for accessibility using best practices and standards outlined by the national Oral History Association. Interview titles will be entered into the Norwich University Kreitzberg Library catalog, which shares information with other libraries around the world. Researchers will have access to recordings through the museum and ultimately through its website using new searchable-speech technology.
“We want to preserve history in the voice of those who have lived it,” said Jennifer Payne, the project’s coordinator. “The most valuable contribution a person can leave for the future is their story. People have long used storytelling to transmit information and values within a culture’s heritage to the next generation.”
The scope of the project is broad. “We have stories from a 1934 graduate who trained on horseback,” Payne added, “and a Ranger from the class of 2005 who handled communications for Air Force One.”
Future plans include web access as allowed by participants and interactive indexing of spoken histories through a partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn’s Center for Oral History.
People interested in sharing their story may nominate themselves or another person through the museum’s website at https://academics.norwich.edu/museum/initiatives/ or by contacting Jennifer Payne at 802-485-2379.
Selected participants will be scheduled for an hour-long interview. Interviews can be recorded at Norwich’s on-campus studio or any other suitable location within a 250-mile radius. Participants will receive interview questions ahead of time and can review and edit their transcribed interview before it becomes a permanent resource. Contributors receive a copy of their recording and retain copyright of their story for their lifetime. They can determine how their recording is used.
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