A grant of nearly $ 20,000 from the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation will enable faculty and staff at the University of Houston-Victoria to record and store oral histories of residents of the Victoria area and populations under -represented for future generations.
The Dow Chemical Co. Foundation and Dow Seadrift Operations are providing $ 19,815 to fund the Texas Coastal Bend Community Oral History Project. The grant will cover the equipment and space to record, transcribe and store the oral histories of residents of the Victoria area with diversity and civil rights experiences, including those who are disabled, black, Hispanic, Asian and / or LGBTQIA +.
Once the stories are complete, the information will be kept at the Victoria Regional History Center inside the UHV University Commons, 3006 N. Ben Wilson St., for free access to community members. The Victoria Regional History Center is a collaboration between UHV and Victoria College that holds institutional records and other material that document the history of UHV, VC and the greater Victoria area.
“We couldn’t be more proud to partner with UHV on this community history project,” said Whitney Bolger, public affairs manager for Dow Seadrift Operations. “In 2020, Dow committed more than $ 10 million in support over the next five years to address systemic racism and racial inequality through a holistic plan, Dow ACTs. We are committed to building inclusive communities where everyone is treated with fairness and respect. Telling the stories of our under-represented neighbors is one way to help capture and share the rich cultural history of the Carrefour.
The idea for the project started about a year ago when members of the UHV Diversity and Race Working Group were approached by UHV University Advancement staff to expand projects that support diversity. and inclusion in the community, said Rebecca Lake, senior director of equal access at the university. and the staff co-chair of the working group.
“The intention of the project is to highlight the diversity of the crossroads,” said Lake. “For some people, their experience of diversity may be related to their race, gender, disability status, or LGBTQIA + status. This is an opportunity to ensure that the community has access to an archive of information told firsthand by community members. “
The working group surveyed several of its working groups and gathered project ideas before selecting an oral history project, that is, historical data made up of personal memories in audio form. The university then applied to Dow for the grant.
“The UHV is grateful to the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation for this support not only for the university, but also for the community,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. . “This project will be a voice for our community of Victoria and serve as a resource for generations to come. “
A team of teachers and employees of the UHV will work on the project. The team includes Lake; Amina Patton, assistant professor of communication design and co-chair of the working group; Cherlyn Hodge, Success Coach; Laura Mammina, assistant professor of history; and Joseph Locke, associate professor of history. Community partners can also help with the interview and research process.
Oral history includes interview research and recording, interview transcription and data preservation. This approach connects with an audience in a way that can be intimate, engaging and enduring, Patton said.
“Our goal is to capture the first-hand lived experiences of our local community to fill in the gaps and deepen understanding,” said Patton. “This project hopes to give this diverse region a home to capture its wealth of knowledge and experiences through storytelling. As much as stories can make us laugh or comfort us in their familiarity, they can also force us to have stimulating conversations, to open our eyes to our own biases, and to learn from historical events.
An oral history project is a great way to tell the stories and experiences of residents of Victoria that are rarely brought to light, Mammina said. Oral history is a technique used in history and other fields to preserve data in communities. In August, Mammina and Locke took oral history training which helped them learn how to conduct the interviews and the oral history process.
The project will focus on people living in Victoria County and their experiences, which may include civil rights, segregation and gender-based experiences. The grant will help finance the project’s start-up equipment, including recording equipment and digital storage. The team will work with community partners who have already identified people to interview for the project and will later be willing to interview other community members. Mammina also hopes to work with local historical organizations on the project. The project will be launched in early 2022.