The LSC Center for Local & Oral History (CLOH) was founded with an LSC Chancellor’s Faculty Technology Innovation Grant in 2016. The Center works to incorporate into the college’s curricula the practice of Oral History, which is defined by the Oral History Association (OHA) as “a method of gathering and preserving historical information through recorded interviews with participants in past events and ways of life." Introducing oral history into the classroom empowers students to do and to make history, hence the Center's motto: Carpe Historiam!
The aims of CLOH include the following:
Document the local history of the LSC service area
Empower students through experiential learning
Develop student research skills
Collaborate across disciplines
Engage the community
Integrate technology into the learning process
Understand history as narrative
The faculty and staff affiliated with CLOH train students in the application of new technological media such as digital recording, audio and video processing, transcription, and archiving. In doing so, we intend to give students a greater and more personal stake in their education, as well as new skill sets for success in the global marketplace.
Student-led oral-history projects are an amazing but under-used pedagogical tool, enabling students to become historians for a semester. They not only preserve local history but also create a unique space for teaching and learning. As many of our students have discovered through their own oral-history projects, ours is a diverse and introspective community that treasures its past.
Teachign & Learning
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. Today, it is used a method of gathering and preserving historical information by recording and archiving local memories from individuals with firsthand knowledge of past events.
Over the last decade or so, educators have witnessed a shift away from the more traditional, content-based model of teaching academic subjects, in which students are expected to digest large quantities of discipline-specific information in a survey course. In an effort to engage and teach our students in other ways, forward-looking instructors in the humanities and social sciences are striving to incorporate more research-based and experiential ways learning, especially new forms of technology.
With this in mind, CLOH aims to expand learning outside classroom, allowing students to explore their community and to create and preserve a trove of knowledge about the composition of, and lived experiences in and around, northern Harris andMontgomery counties.
The local history of smaller towns and communities, especially historically marginalized and and underserved ones, are often excluded from the larger historical narratives of US history. Our community members have a wealth of knowledge and personal experience that might otherwise be lost; theirs is a fine-grained, very personal and lived history that cannot be found in textbooks.
Local Oral History Projects
To date, LSC students have collected and archived a range of oral-history narratives from family and community members in the local area, such as the following:
Life histories of the Great Depression
Veteran and home-front experiences of foreign wars, incl. WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan
Settlement and development of Humble, TX
History of local cuisine and food culture
Immigrant journeys to Houston from around the world
Legacies of Jim Crow, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement
Labor in the Texas cotton fields
Impact of Hurrican Ike
Memories of Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11
International Oral History Projects
LSC students have also explored the wider world through the discipline of oral history, producing innovative oral-history projects with an international scope, often in a foreign language. Projects focusing on international historical and political events include the following:
Errection/destruction of the Berlin Wall and the division of Germany during the Cold War
Exodus of Vietnamese "boat people" at the end of the Vietnam War (1978–79)
National Reorganization Process and the "Dirty War" under Argentinia's dictatorship (1976–83)
CLOH plans to sponsor future research activities at museums and archives in and around Houston, as training students to undertake this type of primary-source research is a key learning objective in LSC's social-science and humanities curricula.
The following individuals won awards based on their activities or projects undertaken through the Center for Local & Oral History:
Faculty Innovator of the Year, 2016–17 – R. Chris Davis
Cody Award for Outstanding History Student, 2016–17 – Anna Clark
Cody Award for Outstanding History Student, 2015–16 – Victoria Godsby
Courses that utilize oral history are typically special-topics US History since 1877 (HIST 1302) courses. However, oral history is an interdisciplinary methodology, and as such it has been utilized in various courses in the LSC catalog, including Government (GOVT), English (ENGL), and Communication (COMM) classes, among others.
Using oral history in the classrom enables an exploration of the course subject through the recorded testimonies of eyewitnesses to past events and experiences, using sound and video recordings. Regardless of the discipline, students learn new technology, engage with the community, and produce original research through individual or group projects.
Quest Early College High School
CLOH provided technical support for oral-history projects undertaken by dual-credit history students from Quest Early College High School. One project focused on the historical experience of individuals from, Bordersville, Texas, an original settlement founded after the Civil War by freed slaves from Humble, Texas. Quest Early College students are helping to preserve the local history and collective memory of this historically black community. Group interviews were conducted at the Bordersville 3H Center, in cooperation with the Bordersville Neighborhood Council.
Another project explored on the mid-twentieth-century history of the city of Humble. Interviews for this project were conducted at the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center (formerly Charles Bender High School).
In spring 2017, in partnership with the Humble Museum, CLOH helped launch the innagural Speaker Series at the Humble Museum. The Speaker Series endeavors to create a public forum for local history and civic education by bringing to the museum historians, public officials, artists, museum curators, genealogists, and others to speak on a variety of historical and contemporary issues. With this new initiative, CLOH and the Humble Museum aim to establish new links (and to strengthen old ones) between the college, the museum, and the communites they serves, including local educational institutions, businesses, societies, churches, and governments.