oral history

Heather Niday / For Inside Appalachia

There is a deep connection among generations that holds steady for many families across central Appalachia. Perhaps it’s a combination of shared struggles and enduring repeated cycles of economic boom and bust. Maybe it’s our deep ties to the land that help bind so many of us to our past — after all, these mountains are among the oldest on the planet. While many Appalachians have fled the region in search of better opportunities, many of them we interview on Inside Appalachia tell us about the pull to return, even after many years. 


Trey Key / WVPB

Many families have turned to video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype to stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic. Those online conversations can also  serve a larger purpose  —  to capture family oral histories. 

Oral histories are, at their simplest, recordings of memories. They have been around since the earliest days of reel-to-reel tape recorders. Documentarians or researchers would head out into the field to record the memories of people who survived grand events in human history. In the process, they also recorded local music and tall tales. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore how some counties are preparing for the critical and time-intensive role of contact tracing. We also hear from healthcare workers trying to find ways to prevent future coronavirus outbreaks, and we hear how video conferencing apps may help capture family oral histories.

microphone
Jhdp / Wikimedia Commons

People interested in recording oral histories can learn more at a program this week in Charleston.

Author, journalist and documentarian Eric Douglas will present a program on the topic in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex at 6 p.m. Thursday. The program is free and open to the public.