Unity in the Community to promote JDC Oral History Project

Published 9:13 am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Unity in the Community members met in the upstairs courtroom of the JDC Courthouse with special guests Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, Director of the USM Center for Oral History and USM Professor of World Geography Mark Miller to discuss the benefits of an oral history project for Jeff Davis County.

Mary Curtis presented tapes and transcriptions of some oral history that had been done in the 1970s by Ms. Burkes, the former EFC administrator and stated there were many more stories of county life from our older generation that need to be preserved before those stories are lost forever. Curtis continued explaining that in asset mapping of the community our main assets were found to be the Long Leaf Trace, the timber and lumber industries and Brinson Farms, however, there are many more assets that the county has not tapped into and can be utilized to draw people to Jeff Davis County by telling our story.

Natalie Bell who has begun a research on the history of the Sophia Sutton facility and its relevance in the community where she grew up is a student of Dr. Kyriakoudes. Bell explained there is more interest in the South and what took place here now than ever before. The documentation of black and white working together such as in the development of cultural landmark Sophia Sutton is of historical significance and needs to be recorded and country residents educated in its value.

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Dr. Kyriakoudes played oral history recordings of first hand stories of individuals who lived through the Civil Rights Movement and voted for the first time as examples of oral history preservation.

Kyriakoudes stated oral history can create inclusive memory that incorporates the whole community documenting changes in various aspects of life including farming, work, the lumbar business and numerous other aspects of the past. Some grants are available through the State Humanities Counsel to help communities in documentation using oral history.

Prof. Miller who is a regular Trace biker expanded on the subject and gave some pointers on some of the assets that need to be broadcast by our citizens to give visitors interest in spending time here visiting historical or local interesting sites and adding to the county’s economy.

Is there is a special person you know in the county who can recount past events with clarity and begin to tell our story, or maybe you need to tell your own story.

“We believe we are stronger together than as individuals,” stated Mary Curtis, “and we have an amazing story to tell.”

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight