Written by Jim Havron, Archivist of the Albert Gore Research Center
I grew up listening to stories. Stories the old folks told of their younger days, stories about family long gone, stories about history and the world around us, all were part of my early education. Perhaps that is why I so much enjoy recording oral history and preparing it for the public. I never get tired of listening to the experience of others in their own words, hearing reflections of their own emotions from the past, and listening to the sounds of their present emotions as they relive that past in their memories.
Recently I had the pleasure of posting a page to the Albert Gore Research Center Website that contains links to around 500 audio files of oral history interviews collected over the years. These interviews are part of the Middle Tennessee Oral History Project, an effort to capture memories of the past that are held by Middle Tennesseans or people with Middle Tennessee connections. The people who have donated to this project include politicians, academics, artists, historians, journalists, veterans, and people who just recall the days of their youth. This collection of interviews allow us insight into personal and public struggles and victories of all manner of folk. When I listen, it is very much like it was when I was a boy listening to the older folks talk about their memories.
The Webpage will soon be updated with written transcripts of the interviews, when these are available, or logs that provide indices to the subjects covered in the recordings. There will also be guides to classify the interviews as veterans’ history, women’s history, civil rights, or what have you. These will make it easier for researchers to locate precisely the information they want. But in the meantime, the stories are still there for those who wish to listen. And I still get to do interviews and listen to stories as the project continues.
[For those interested in listening to any of these stories, There are links from the “Research Our Collections” page of the Website, easily reached by link from the home page. The project will be labeled Middle Tennessee (MT) Oral History Project]