Hampden Heritage

Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Central Baltimore

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oral History and Hampden Archaeology

First, to introduce myself. I'm Jolene Smith, a grad student at the University of Maryland-College Park working on my Masters in Applied Anthropology. I'm working with Dave, Bob, and the kids on the Hampden Community Archaeology Project this field season as part of an internship. I'm helping with the excavations and day-to-day operations of the project, and additionally, I'm working on an oral history component.

Oral history involves designing and conducting interviews of living people; in our case, we will be interviewing older Hampden residents about their experiences in the community. I've designed this program so that the young fieldworkers are co-contributors. I've been leading them through training sessions teaching oral history methods. Within the next several weeks, we'll work together to develop good interview questions and conduct several recorded interviews in teams. When the interviews are complete, we'll analyze and present our results together.

So, what does oral history have to do with archaeology?

In our opinions, the past and the present are strongly linked. Even though the people we interview were not alive in the early years of Hampden, their insights may provide clues to how Hampden residents have related to the physical place over time- they may tell us about important landmarks, stories about events, and family histories in the area. We're interested in how people in Hampden perceive their heritage and the past, and how the neighborhood has come to be what it is today.

I'll be posting updates from time to time about how the oral history project is going, as well as some details from excavations on my corner of the site- we've been finding some great stuff...more to come!

Also, if you're interested in being interviewed or know someone who would make a good subject, please comment. And come by the first Public Dig Day on Saturday!



Anonymous andreas spiliadis said...

We would like to maybe be involved. Independence Local 1 is a Hampden high school that is based on experiential learning and we are doing walking tours and we are attempting to build a project that in some ways mirrors yours.
drop me a line at Spilly@budl.org. This monday we will be doing some walking tours of the neighborhood. We would love to visit some of the excavations and or help with the oral history stuff.
Andreas Spiliadis

12:14 AM  

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