Jan. 23, 2004

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Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, (785) 864-7822, hallcenter@ku.edu.

Hall Center at KU to hold oral history workshop March 12; registration open

LAWRENCE -- The Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas will hold "Learning to Hear the Stories V: Voices from the Past -- Speaking Through the Present," a workshop on oral history and tradition, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 12, in the Kansas Union ballroom.

This year's speakers include Peggy Bulger, director of the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center, and Madison Davis Lacy, the Langston Hughes visiting professor of theatre and film at KU and an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work appeared in Ken Burns' "Jazz."

Bulger's workshop session will focus on what happens to oral history documentation after it has been collected. Based on her experience creating exhibits for the American Folklife Center, Bulger will show participants how to collect and display folklife as part of community history projects.

Lacy also will draw heavily from his personal experience in his afternoon lecture on telling stories through documentary film. His solo work includes "Beyond Tara -- The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel" and "Free To Dance," a documentary about the black tradition in modern dance.

Other workshop sessions will cover topics such as the ethics of oral history, Territorial Kansas, the Ford Motor Co.'s Research Institute for Women in Jazz, the representation of stories through quilting, and genealogy.

Oral history is the history of experience, the telling of the stories of average people and how they lived. Proponents say this kind of history is important because it can teach much more about culture and society than can a history text that focuses only on famous people and circumstances. Oral history also can teach about the experiences of marginalized groups, who commonly are left out of traditional history.

Victor Bailey, director of the Hall Center, said he believed oral history had an important place in the documentation of the past.

"In their rush to read the archive, the written word, the formal document, historians and memorialists have too often neglected the spoken word, the oral record, the demotic," he said. "The Hall Center is committed to the retrieval and evaluation of oral accounts of the history and memory of individual actors. The oral history workshop is a pledge of our commitment."

Lunch will be provided to those who register by Feb. 13. To register or for more information, contact the Hall Center at hallcenter@ku.edu or (785) 864-4798.

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