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Telling History

In many U.S. states, the regional and state archives contain collections of oral histories gathered in the early 1960s when there was considerable grant monies available for preserving our heritage. Indeed, some of these archives contains histories collected during the Depression as part of the Federal Writers' Project. A number of writers have researched the repositories of oral history on certain subjects and produced books from the materials. Belinda Hurmence, for example, has reviewed the oral histories collected from former slaves and created books from their narratives (Before Freedom, When I Can Just Remember and We Lived in a Little Cabin in the Yard) Histories continue to be collected, but the pace has slowed somewhat as government funding continues to be cut for the humanities.

While most archives have catalogues of their holdings, and many of the tapes have been transcribed so they exist in hard copy, some archives have been unable to fund the transcription of some of their collections. There is much material here, but rich as it may be, it remains for the most part outside our nation's classrooms, which is a shame.

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The materials are simply not in a form that teachers find easily accessible for supplementing their classroom studies. Yet history teachers often lament the lack of regional materials to augment their standardized history texts.

In other words, rich materials exist to help classroom teachers localize their history texts, but the sources are not in a form that are readily assimilated into classrooms. Telling History is a proposal for making these materials a valuable part of not only history classes, but also classes across the curriculum.

Telling History collects and presents these materials by subject, geared to standard curriulums, carefully integrated with the way teachers present their subject.

The links below provide details of the project, plus sample materials.

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