Kwai kwai! Greetings from the frozen north. We are digging out from
under layers of ice and snow, tunneling a narrow path to our computer.
We will fill you in on a few doings since last you heard from us. None
of the juicy bits, but those fit to print.
Our work with the Chelsea Historical Society goes slowly. Although an
archival collection survey grant was received from the Vermont Public
Records Advisory Group and Dartmouth archivist Osterberg engaged as a
consultant, the advice went down hard as pine pitch. It's challenging
for folks who have great affection for their stuff to hear they must do
a better job of taking care of it. Especially when it involves
"outsiders" telling them what to do; how to store things, catalogue
them, chuck the old newspapers (they're all microfilmed), control the
climate, and much more. Meddling about in the ephemera of the ruling
class (such as it is in Chelsea) is messy at best. Sensitivity is
required and a good sense of humor when opening the cardboard boxes of
farm families long gone but not forgotten.
Shuffling off to Buffalo in October, Nancy and I presented at the Oral
History Conference and rode the Maid into Niagra Falls mist. We hauled
equipment and an exhibit to illustrate our web work with students as the
focus, describing the quality and importance of conducting and using
oral history in the classroom. If it weren't for all the flashy
presentations we witnessed during our American Memory week in D.C. we
would never have realized the benefits of cruising via LCD with a live
audience. Thanks to the impressive tech abilities of Nancy and the
phone company, we dazzled the uninitiated with access to American Memory
on-line. The Learning Page and Oral History sites attracted much
attention and we were able to discuss how to use other material which
would support oral history projects. We used Ora Cook (Clark Atlanta
University) as our informant and the group as interviewers. Cook
recounted stories about her awakening as a civil rights activist,
inspired by a visit to her college from Malcolm X. We could demonstrate
how students would be able to learn how to conduct oral history and
connect it with materials from American Memory.
Nancy's live-in grandmother fell ill in October necessitating a leave of
absence which concluded last week after Nanna's reunion with the
cosmos. Now we are back together again and hard at work directing
students to continue the web site.
We can be found at http://homepages.together.net/~kerwinx/
We expect to hook up with Chris Fricke for the annual spring Vermont
Library Association conference. The presentation will include our
respective experiences with on-line access for students, web tech, and
using the American Memory Collection.