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Prewitt & Associates Fort Hood Oral History Project

Prewitt
Bill Pugsley, Martha Freeman, Karl Kleinbach, Amy Dase, and Doug Boyd

On December 12, 2008, in Austin, TOHA presented the 2008 Mary Faye Barnes Award for Excellence in Community History to Prewitt & Associates, Inc., and the Cultural Resources Branch, Environmental Programs Division, Directorate of Public Works, Department of the Army-Fort Hood in recognition of the Fort Hood Oral History Project.

Receiving the award for Prewitt & Associates was Doug Boyd and for the Fort Hood Cultural Resources Branch, Karl Kleinbach. Also present were some of the project's primary investigators, Amy E. Dase, Bill Pugsley, and Martha Freeman. Lois E. Myers presented the award certificates on behalf of TOHA.

The Fort Hood Oral History Project was the outgrowth of several years' work that the US Army Fort Hood initiated through their Cultural Resources Management Program in the Directorate of Public Works. As part of its responsibilities for managing the many and diverse archeological and historical resources on the 339-square-mile installation, Fort Hood identified and collected data on more than 1,100 historic archeological sites associated with family farms and ranches that were obliterated in the early years of World War II. Two initial reports recorded the history of several hundred land parcels on which the historic archeological sites were situated (Stabler 1999; Ward et al. 2000).

A third report gathered research to account for local agricultural history and the development of rural communities in Bell and Coryell Counties between 1849 and 1942, and to develop a process by which Fort Hood could make management decisions for avoiding the most significant of these historic archeological sites (Freeman et al. 2001). This report included a series of visits to family and community reunions to collect historic photographs and a few impromptu oral history interviews. These sources were synthesized with the three previous reports to offer a publication that commemorated local history with numerous illustrative photographs (Pugsley 2001).

Interactions with former inhabitants of the Fort Hood lands inspired an oral history project recounting their experiences. Many who had been children or teenagers before World War II still lived in the area and were willing participants in a series of forty-two interviews that took place with fifty-two informants between May 1998 and October 2001. The interviews provided insight into the early twentieth-century rural life of the informants, who clearly remembered the Great De-pression and the taking of their land for Camp Hood.

The oral history collections procedures for the project followed standard practice. Each informant signed a deed-of-gift agreement form for release of the interview content and any photographs they shared with the project. The interviews were recorded on audio tapes, which were duplicated and professionally transcribed. Select informants who were particularly insightful later participated in videotaped interviews to discuss similar topics and expand on themes of which they had notable knowledge. The audio and video cassettes, transcripts, and historic photographs are permanently housed at the Texas Collection at Baylor University, with no restrictions to public access.

The verbatim transcripts were published (Dase et al. 2003). Other outcomes include Harder than Hardscrabble, an academic publication that used the collected oral histories to relay the story of rural life on the lands that became Camp Hood (Sitton 2003), and a traveling photographic essay exhibit, Lost Worlds: Historic Images from Fort Hood Lands (Sitton et al. 2003). Once undocumented, the rich record of local farming and ranching families and the communities they forged is preserved to share with their descendants and newcomers to the area surrounding the vast expanse of Fort Hood.

References Cited

Dase, Amy E., Martha Doty Freeman, William S. Pugsley, Thad Sitton, and Marie E. Blake, 2003. "Just Like Yesterday": Recollections of Life on the Fort Hood Lands, Volumes I and II. U.S. Army Fort Hood Archeological Resource Management Series Research Report No. 49. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin.

Freeman, Martha Doty, Amy E. Dase, and Marie E. Blake, 2001. Agriculture and Rural Development on Fort Hood Lands, 18491942: National Register Assessments of 710 Historic Archeological Properties. U.S. Army Fort Hood Archeological Resource Management Research Report No. 42. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin.

Pugsley, William S., 2001. Imprint on the Land: Life Before Camp Hood, 18201942. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin.

Sitton, Thad, ed., 2003. Harder than Hardscrabble: Oral Recollections of the Farming Life from the Edge of the Texas Hill Country. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Sitton, Thad, Sandy Hannum, and Amy E. Dase, 2003. Lost Worlds: Historic Images from Fort Hood Lands, portable exhibit. U.S. Army Fort Hood Archeological Resource Management Project. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin.

Stabler, Jennifer A., 1999. Historical Research Preliminary to National Register Assessments of 719 Historic Sites at Fort Hood, Bell and Coryell Counties, Texas. U.S. Army Fort Hood Archeological Resource Management Research Report No. 36. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin.

Ward, Russell B., Marie E. Blake, Amy E. Dase, and Martha Doty Freeman, 2000. Historical Research of 401 Sites at Fort Hood, Bell and Coryell Counties, Texas. U.S. Army Fort Hood Archeological Resource Management Series Research Report No. 43. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin.