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McDuffie Museum supporters get lesson in recording, reciting oral history

The McDuffie Museum opened its doors Tuesday, Nov. 14, to teach local citizens how to make history. Approximately 16 people attended an Oral History Training Session, which was taught by Corey Rogers. Mr. Rogers is the resident historian at Lucy Craft Laney Museum in Augusta.

An Oral History exhibit is planned for the museum when it opens, according to the Executive Director of Camellia Partners for Heritage and Economic Development, Mary Anne Coussons. The exhibit will be two-fold - as a station for children to interview a grandparent or other older relative and record the interview for their own family, and as a storage of such interviews for posterity.

Many of the 16 in attendance were members of the museum committee who would be conducting interviews for the museum exhibit.

"I learned the progression of steps to go through to do it. That's one thing I didn't know where to start," said Rusty Lovelace. "Now we see the correct way to go about recording the history, the correct machine to use, the format to follow. I made a lot of notes."

Mr. Rogers received his BA in History from South Carolina State University and his MA from Georgia Southern. He was an intern at the Center of Documentary Studies at Duke University, and was recently appointed to the Augusta-Richmond County Historic Preservation Committee.

During the class, Mr. Rogers taught the importance of Oral History and shared many stories of experiences he had while doing interviews.

"You can read and read in books, but it's so interesting when you have a grandparent or (someone who) can tell you things you wouldn't find in a history book. That's what it's all about, just to give a history of people from here and the surrounding area," Mr. Lovelace said.

Mr. Lovelace said he has several tapes that he made "years ago" when he received a pocket-sized tape recorder for Christmas, and went around the county interviewing friends.

"They have since died, so that information is very valuable now, because it's about an era that's no longer here," he said. "They were born between 1880-1900...It's wonderful to hear about how the streets of Thomson looked, and the different homes, how they prepared dinner, how they dressed, how they bought groceries. It was a different place."

During the class, Mr. Rogers distributed lists of questions to ask for certain situations, such as the 1970 riots, the day Kennedy was shot and for World War II veterans. He divided the class members into pairs, and had them interview each other.

After a question and answer time, the class had the opportunity as a group to interview Mr. Lovelace and Mrs. Anne McClure.

"Miss Anne McClure, she's a wealth of history; she's a talker, and she's such a card," Mrs. Coussons said. "And of course, Rusty, he's just Mr. McDuffie; that's just his name."

During the interview, Mrs. McClure shared memories of visiting the Depot as a child, and jobs she did as the trains came through. Mr. Lovelace shared memories of stories he heard as a child. Mr. Lovelace said relatives and neighbors would come at night and sit on the screened porch of his home on Lee Street and talk.

"They would tell stories, and I would sit there as a child and listen to them," Mr. Lovelace said. "I tried to remember it all. Maybe I need to get my tape recorder out and tape myself before it's all over with."

Mrs. Coussons said Mr. Rogers will return to work with the group again, providing "more nuts and bolts."

"Anything you need, I'll be at your disposal," Mr. Rogers said to the group at the end of class. "Hopefully I was able to whet your appetite."

Web posted on Thursday, November 23, 2006

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