Community Oral History Grant Recipients
"Footprints of Times Past," a research project initiated by the Limestone County Histoical Commission, will preserve the histories of eleven rural communities that once served the agriculturally-based economy of the area but are now deserted or nearly deserted. Former communities targeted for research include Big Hill, Forsa, Lavendar, Odds, Oletha, Point Enterprise, Sandy, Woodlands, Doyle, Comanche Crossing, and Webb Chapel. Four of the communities were settled by freed slaves.
In the grant proposal narrative, the applicants wrote, "Through the interviews, the oral histories will breathe life into these communities, again revealing the role that each played in the history of Limestone County. At one time, each placed a deep footprint in the history of the county. Today, the natural forces of time are wearing the footprints away. The streets are empty, the structures where children once played and recited Bible verses are empty shells or have totally disappeared with the passing of time, and the voices to tell the stories are becoming softer and softer. It is imperative that we document the stories and the histories of these communities before they are lost forever."
From among several worthy proposals, the Bremond Historical Society was named recipient of the 2012 Community Oral History Grant. The purpose of the society's Bremond Polish Oral History Project is to gather the history of the life of the historic Polish community in this Central Texas town, covering Polish contributions to business, religion, education, music, sports, and farm life. Volunteer interviewers will receive training in February, and the Bremond Historical Society will archive the interviews and recognize the interviewees at a public reception at the conclusion of the project.
A 2011 Community Oral History Grant was awarded to the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools. The project will train and equip community volunteers to collect stories from former students and teachers of the twelve historic one-room schools and three teacherages still standing in rural Gillespie County, Texas. A few years ago, the Friends organization saved the sale and possible destruction of the school houses, the lone remnants of forty such schools that served the rural population of the county in the first half of the twentieth century. The organization hosts open-house school tours and reunions and maintains a Web site on the schools at www.historicschools.org. The oral histories will be deposited in the Gillespie County Historical Society, and excerpts of the transcipts will be available on the Web site to help preserve the stories of life and education in rural Texas.
Also receiving a 2011 Community Oral History Grant was the Central Texas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for a project titled, "Oral History of the Hispanic Community in Waco." The project will gather stories of Hispanic life in Waco from Hispanic leaders in business, education, politics, religion, sports, music, and neighborhood activities. The volunteer interviewers will come from the membership of the Hispanic Chamber and from the community. The project is a first attempt by the Waco Hispanic community to undertake its own oral history project. Video recordings of the interviews will be aired on Waco Channel 10, the local community access station, and the accompanying audio recordings, which will be transcribed by BUIOH, will be deposited in the Waco Public Library and made available online at Baylor University.
The 2010 Community Oral History Grant was awarded to the Goliad Center for Texas History, part of the Goliad County Library in Goliad, Texas. With the Institute's help, the Goliad Oral History Project marked the beginning of a permanent oral history project to collect, preserve, and make accessible oral interview recordings and transcripts rounding out the history of one of the oldest towns in Texas. The Spanish and Colonial roots of Goliad and its role in the Texas Revolution are well known, but the story that lives in human memory lacks documentation. The project developers identified potential interviewees representing a diverse cross-section of the community, including citizens descended from African, German, Tejano, Mexican, and Anglo families. The memories available from these community members cover topics relevant to the area's history: ranching, agriculture, the revival of the longhorn breed, preservation of the town's major historical sites, and the development of businesses, services, and social organizations. Their stories touch on the major events of the twentieth-century--the Great Depression, the world wars, Korean and Vietnam wars, the 1950s oil boom, and the desegregation of schools. In their grant evaluation, the recipients commented, "It is hard to see how Baylor's participation could be better. You provided us with training, helped with equipment choices, transcribed interviews, and were always available to answer questions."