The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center Hosts an Oral History Workshop

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The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center Hosts an Oral History Workshop

Francine Kirk

Francine Kirk

Francine Kirk

Keely Stiles, Staff Reporter

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Before the invention of writing, primitive societies communicated and recorded history by means of oral tradition. Oral tradition was passed on by individuals through memorized stories and poems, according to Britannica. On Tuesday, January 29, an Oral History Workshop was held at The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on Fairmont State’s Campus. The workshop was conducted by Michael and Carrie Kline, a married couple, who specialize in the collection of oral history.
Oral history differs from oral tradition by providing a permanent recording of personal events. According to the Oral History Association, “Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies.”
During the workshop, the Klines expressed their love of sharing oral history with others. The couple has interviewed people from different backgrounds across the state recording their first-hand experiences with things such as segregation, the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster, and what it’s like growing up in poverty in Clay County.
The Klines had a very down-to-earth, and welcoming energy when teaching the workshop. They stressed that when interviewing someone for oral history the important thing to do is to listen. They also expressed that showing no judgment when listening to someone’s story is essential. “Even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying you don’t show it,” Michael said, as judgment can interfere with the person sharing their story. Michael told a story about an old Barbara Walter’s interview he had seen, where Walters showed visible distaste of an interviewee’s story. Michael said, “I realized I never wanted to be like that when interviewing.”
The workshop was open to all students, and the Klines expressed their satisfaction with the turnout. Michael commented, “We are used to a room with about only 15 people in it.” Fairmont State’s turnout was twice the size of what they are commonly accustomed to at their other workshops. The Klines were very pleasant to listen to and the workshop was a great learning experience for Fairmont State students.

Photo By Francene Kirk

Photo By Francene Kirk

 

 

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