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HON 308W/312W/320W Learning in Place: Research Guide

Go to this site to find resources for HON 308W/312W/320W

A Helpful Place to Start

The term oral history has many interpretations and potential examples. The Oral History Association, the most prominent association of its kind in the United States, defines oral history interviews as a “verbal document” that two or more people produce with “the conscious intention of creating a permanent record to contribute to an understanding of the past.” The William H. Berge Oral History Center defines oral history as unrehearsed recorded interviews that range from in-depth biographical narratives of individuals to first (or second) hand accounts of local, regional, national or international events. Oral History interviews in the Berge Center can be topical or thematic in nature, and sometimes include more than one interviewing session. Regardless of the length or number of interviews in a collection, the outcome is always the same--the creation of unique and publicly accessible primary sources over a given topic, event, place or person.

A Few Place Based Collections

Below you will find three Berge Center collections that reliably focus on various place based concepts that will prove useful while researching your project topics and possibilities for inspiration. Although, the three are excellent examples of place based studies there are numerous other collections that may lend themselves well to a wide range of place based theoretical concepts, subject areas, or locales. Some interviews are fully indexed, whereas others may require a digitization request .

Don't quite find what you're looking for? Feel free to reach out to EKU Oral Historian Neil Kasiak ( or 859-622-2820) to schedule a convenient consultation to dig deeper into the Berge Center collection of interviews.

Special Note: Interview records are added to the Berge Center site as time and resources allow. Consequently, not all interview items from a collection are posted on the Berge Center site. To more easily discern which interviews are available online from those that require a digitization request through Special Collections and Archives, scroll to the bottom of the collection and click the "View All ____ Items" button to see a fully itemized list. The interviews that are immediately available will have a small thumbnail image with headphones on the right hand side of the page.

  •  Living and Working on the Kentucky River (1986-1992)
    • Project Description: This fully indexed project documents the economic and social conditions of people who have lived or worked on the Kentucky River. Workers talk about several industries and occupations associated with the river: coal mining, locks and lock repair, logging, rafting logs downriver, sawmills, farming, fishing, oil drilling, and bootlegging. Many of the interviewees worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Several types of boats are discussed: showboats, steamboats, pleasure boats, ferry boats, barges, and various other kinds of commercial boats.

      Narrators recall floods along the river, especially those in 1933, 1937, 1962, and 1978, and the ice tide during the winter of 1917--1918. Other topics are the droughts of 1930 and 1936; boat wrecks, drownings, and other river accidents; environmental concerns such as pollution of the river, dredging, and the ecology of the river basin; the history, including the geological history, of the Kentucky River and the Kentucky River Basin; the impact of the Great Depression and World War II on the area; social life and recreation; the river as depicted in fiction and poetry; and Paul Sawyier and his paintings. Communities along the river that are discussed include Valley View, High Bridge, Shakertown, Boonesborough, and Oregon. Thomas D. Clark, Wendell E. Berry, and Thomas Fitzgerald are among those interviewed.
  • Small Towns Project (1986-1995)
    • Project Description: This project focuses on approximately fifteen small towns in Kentucky, their citizens, character, and changes that have taken place. For the purposes of this project, a small town is defined as one whose population is under 2,500 people. Towns representing a cross section of Kentucky small town life were chosen for this project, from a variety of areas of the state. Interviews were conducted to find out what life in a small town was like, what problems these small towns have had, how the towns have changed over time, and how the inhabitants have changed. Interviewees also discuss the vitality of their town
  • Great Depression Memories (1977-1998)
    • Project Description: Students of William Ellis interviewed their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents about the Great Depression. Interviewees, mainly from central and eastern Kentucky and from various socioeconomic backgrounds, discuss their personal and family histories, their education, jobs, and the Flood of 1937. There is significant information on the economic consequences and social history of the Depression.

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