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Citadel News Service
15 Sep 2010

Residents learn how to help preserve the past through oral histories

In the South Carolina Lowcountry many residents know and can appreciate the rich history that makes up our communities but a small group of Beaufort County residents have a renewed zest for the value of preserving the past.

Shelia Harrell-Roye, right, of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, works with Mary Legree, left, and Mae Mendoza, center, some of the 15 Beaufort County area residents who took part this summer in a workshop on conducting oral histories.

This past summer 15 people took part in a Citadel Oral History Project workshop put on in conjunction with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, the Penn Center on St. Helena Island and the Beaufort County Library. The goal was to train Beaufort area residents interested in improving their oral history skills.

An oral history is the gathering of information of historical or sociological importance through audio and video recordings of people whose experiences and memories are representative or whose lives have been of special significance in history.

“These workshops assist people with the necessary tools to reveal diverse and meaningful stories which may otherwise go unheard,” said Shelia Harrell-Roye of the Avery Research Center.

Building on earlier workshops offered in Charleston over the past years, Harrell-Roye and Citadel Oral History Program Coordinator Kerry Taylor instructed the 15 attendees on the oral history process, including interviewing techniques and archiving strategies.

The workshop received excellent reviews from the teachers, genealogists, community activists, history enthusiasts, and students who participated in the free session and completed surveys afterward. “Going into the workshop, I was skeptical about the value of oral history,” one survey respondent wrote. “As a result of this well-presented workshop, I feel much more enlightened about the possible benefits of the techniques” of oral history.

The Beaufort session was the first of several workshops that will be offered across South Carolina by the Avery Center and The Citadel. For more information, call 843-953-5357 or email Taylor at

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Media Contact:
Kim Keelor-Parker
(843) 953-2155

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