To foster enthusiasm for oral history, as well as train volunteers, HSL recently hosted an oral history interview training session. The session was led by Jill Breit, Executive Director of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY). Jill is a folklorist and at TAUNY has worked on a number of oral history projects to preserve the stories and traditions of many upstate communities.
Seating was limited for the training, but we were delighted to have a full house of enthusiastic guests. Each participant had their own interests, whether it be volunteering for HSL, writing family history, or conducting interviews for book projects. Jill spoke about many facets of oral history, such as choosing a project, finding the right context, and best practices for conducting interviews. A discussion on ethical issues (what happens if someone tells you about something scandalous or even illegal?) led to a great, impromptu storytelling circle about life in Saranac Lake, and the ways we tell stories and why it is so important that we share our stories with each other.
Jill provided everyone with a great deal of valuable information and hands-on practice in what it is like to do oral history interviews. Her visit was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with her and TAUNY as we develop the porch. We’re especially excited to have gained some new volunteers through the training session!
If you are interested in volunteering for the HSL oral history project or would like to share your story with an interviewer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 891-4606.