2007 - 2010
EXPANDING HORIZONS IN THE DIGITAL AGE
In August 2007, Baylor University welcomed Stephen Sloan as assistant professor in the Department of History and director of the Institute for Oral History. Dr. Sloan brought to Baylor a broad background in teaching and research, in addition to rich experience in oral history practice and program management. Find out here his plans for the Institute.
From the start, Dr. Sloan initiated measures to guide the Institute fully into the digital age, toward the goal of providing online access to sound files and transcripts gathered since 1970. Tremendous progress has been made.
To continue the Institute's work in its own backyard, Dr. Sloan introduced a focused project on family-owned businesses in Waco. The project will document how family businesses persisted down the years, ways the businesses and community interacted, and patterns of succession from one generation to the next. Other local projects are gathering memories of local landmarks: Cameron Park, which marks its one-hundredth anniversary in 2010; and Waco's Freedom Fountain, which honors the community's effort to secure freedom for American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Continuing its efforts to present local history from a variety of viewpoints, the Institute contracted with the Cooper Foundation to record the story of private philanthropy in Waco and Central Texas and collaborated with Paula Gerstenblatt's grassroots effort to document the overlooked history of the black community in the eastern McLennan County town of Mart.
Beginning in the spring of 2008, the Institute faculty conducted the first of twenty-three oral history workshops under contract with the Texas Historical Commission's Military Sites Program. Titled "Here and There: Recollections of World War II," the workshops will be held over two years in sites throughout Texas. Workshops in 2008 were held in the towns of Center, Paris, Del Rio, Panhandle, San Angelo, Frisco, Fort Worth, and Amarillo. On schedule for 2009 were workshops in Alpine, Tyler, Midland, Brownwood, College Station, Corpus Christi, Sweetwater, San Antonio, Lubbock, Brownsville, Houston, Waco, Palestine, and Victoria. In 2010, one final workshop was held, in January in El Paso.
In April 2008, the Institute hosted "A Fun Texas Odyssey," an evening of recorded sounds and stories from the Lone Star State presented by humorist, folklorist, radio personality, and oral historian Tumbleweed Smith (a.k.a. Bob Lewis). Over the last forty years, Smith has collected the largest private collection of oral history in the U.S., highlighting the fascinating characters and storytellers he comes across in traveling the state's back roads. Many of the stories he collects are broadcast on "The Sound of Texas," one of the state's longest-running syndicated radio programs, of which Smith is the creator and producer.
The Institute continued to promote local history and oral history practice through participation in the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair and the Waco History Project. In April 2008, for the Waco History Project, the Institute gathered together former South Waco residents who were scattered far and wide through urban renewal relocation programs, the expansion of the Baylor University campus, and the construction of Interstate 35. With stimulation from period maps, aerial view photos, and a "then and now" slide show, the participants talked with each other about long-gone schools, businesses, homes, and ways of life.
In July 2009, BUIOH conducted its first online workshop, "Getting Started with Oral History." Fifteen oral history newcomers hailing from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Texas took part in the two-session interactive workshop. With very positive, enthusiastic responses from every participant, a waiting list of people in line for our next e-learning event, and our own assessment that the online workshop was just plain fun, BUIOH again offered its introductory workshop online in April and July of 2010.
In August 2010, BUIOH launched a weekly radio program based on its oral history collection. Aired on KWBU-FM 103.3 in Waco on Tuesdays, the program is titled Living Stories. The creator of the series is our editor, Michelle Holland, who also created a Web site to archive the programs. Listen to the programs at Living Stories.