Roots with Wings, a Floyd County Place-Based Education Project:: Intergenerational Connections

Floyd Story Center

Since 1998, a community oral history collection partnership of the Old Church Gallery, Ltd., Radford University’s Center for Social and Cultural Research, Honors Program, Scholar-Citizen Initiative, Appalachian Regional and Rural Studies Center, and Floyd County High School. Our archives now hold over 100 interviews.

In our Roots with Wings project, college mentors, high school staff, and community volunteers meet weekly during the school year to teach the discipline of oral history collection to Floyd County High School students.

Students learn ethical, methodologically sound interview techniques, practice and complete several interviews, transcribe the audiotapes, create searchable content logs, archive interviewee resources and period photographs, learn the technology of audio and video recording, research historical backgrounds, acquire proficiency in iMovie and storytelling, and finally extract a theme from an hour long interview to create a seven minute movie production.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oral History Project Inspires Community Writer

A Memoir by Betty Bernardine
Introductory text by R. Wells
Excerpt from publication - Warrenville (IL) Village Chronicles

"In tiny Floyd, Virginia, a retiree who had done oral history work in South Carolina was watching recorded interviews on the subject of World War II. One woman, who had been a welder in Chicago and then joined the USO to tour the South Pacific as an entertainer, said she was Warrenville, Illinois. “I lived there!” he exclaimed. During the school year 1968-69, he and his wife had rented a house on Warren Avenue while he taught and studied at Northern Illinois University and she did public health nursing.

Randall A. Wells (b. 1942) later interviewed Betty McAtic Bernardine (b. 1926) on her childhood in the rural village. This session inspired her to begin writing her own memoir. In an ongoing collaboration with Wells, she sent material to him as e-mail attachments. Inspired by Ms. Bernardine's ability to salvage details from seventy and even eighty years earlier, Wells would edit the pieces, invite clarification, encourage more details, and even request a topic (the railroad). Eventually he helped to combine and arrange the material into a whole that readers of the Chronicles will read in serial form."

This memoir is an unexpected fruit of the oral history archive created by the Floyd Story Center, which is a partnership of the Old Church Gallery, Ltd. (Floyd), Radford University’s Center for Social and Cultural Research, and Floyd County High School.

Randall Wells, who grew up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, taught English and public speaking at Coastal Carolina University for thirty-four years. He also directed the Horry County Oral History Project and wrote several books on the area.

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