Hampden Library to host oral history project during Big 'H'
Date: 9/13/2010Sept. 13, 2010
By Debbie Gardner
Assistant Managing Editor
HAMPDEN -- On Sept. 18, between 11 a.m and 1 p.m., the people of Hampden are invited to take a few moments away from their visit to the town's Big H festival to stop by the library and tell them a story.
Not just any story. Youth Services Librarian Christina Fairman is looking for individuals willing to share stories about growing up and living in Hampden.
"I would like to get people from all walks [of life] and ages who have lived through a tremendous amount of history [in this town] and get it down on paper," Fairman told Reminder Publications
. She said the interviews, which will either be transcribed or videotaped by volunteers, would be preserved as part of the library's local history collection. Volunteers will be prepared with a list of questions to help individuals get started telling their stories.
"Essentially, it's a way of capturing our place in history at this time," she added.
Fairman encouraged individuals who are interested in the project, but feel they will not be able to attend on Sept. 18, to call the library at 566-3047 to set up another time to come in and tell their story. The library will be making arrangements to record oral histories throughout September and into early October.
She said the idea for this local oral history project, which she likened to the Story Corps work done by National Public Radio, was sparked by research she did in conjunction with books the library received earlier this year through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.
The grant, Fairman explained, provided 17 books for readers from the kindergarten to the adult level, all reflecting the theme, "A More Perfect Union."
The stories and accounts in these books focus on the period of American history spanning the years from the Revolutionary to the Civil War.
"I did a little research and found that there were a number of people in Hampden history who contributed significantly to our country's history [during this period]," She said. "I learned a lot about a family who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War."
Fairman said her overreaching purpose with this oral history project is to encourage "residents of all ages to explore their own history and to explore what it means to be an American at this time in history."
With an eye toward possibly expanding this project to include stories from other parts of Western Massachusetts, Fairman said residents from Wilbraham and surrounding communities with Hampden connections are also invited to contact the library about coming in to share their stories.
"There are a lot of ties in this area that may go beyond the borders of Hampden," she said. "I don't want to eliminate anybody who wants to participate."
Fairman said she is also looking for a few more volunteers to help record stories on Sept. 18. Interested individuals may contact her at 566-3047 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org