“The Stories of Our Lives” is a unique community oral history project initiated by the Devils Lake Sons of Norway in conjunction with the Lake Region Public Library and Central Middle School.
According to Sam Johnson, Sons of Norway project coordinator and longtime Devils Lake educator, “the purpose of this community arts and heritage project is to collect and preserve important stories, as well as historical and cultural information about the individuals, families, and groups of people who came to the Devils Lake region to work and live, and in the process create the wonderful community we enjoy today!”
In May, CMS 8th grade students in Sheri Olson’s English classes collaborated with Johnson to begin collecting these community oral history stories.
Students learned how to set up and conduct oral history interviews, and to operate the audio and video equipment needed to collect and preserve these stories.
Olson’s students began by collecting stories from their grandparents and other family elders using digital audio recorders.
Then, working with the activities directors at Heartland Care, the Good Samaritan, and Odd Fellows nursing care facilities, students used digital video cameras to collect many interesting oral histories from community elders who were willing to share their stories.
After conducting their interviews and collecting the stories, students worked with Johnson and their teacher to combine their stories with historical photographs, artwork, and other artifacts into short video segments.
According to Johnson, “later this summer and fall, the next thing we hope to do is edit these oral history conversations together into a series of audio and video recordings that can be made into DVDs, then cataloged and archived in the Lake Region Public Library for future generations to enjoy!”
“The Stories of Our Lives” is a 3-year community oral history project. The first series of stories are scheduled to be available in the Lake Region Public Library by the end of the year.
Johnson noted that support for the first phase of the project, collecting and recording the community stories, was made possible through a grant from the Sons of Norway along with support from the Devils Lake Area Foundation, Western State Bank, Lake Region Corporation, and NDTC.
However, additional community support is needed for the second phase of the project which includes the final assembly, editing and producing of the DVDs and accompanying printed materials for “The Stories of Our Lives” segments to be housed in the Lake Region Public Library.
Contact Sam Johnson, Community Oral History Project Coord., to offer support or to get more information about the project at 662-5734 or email@example.com.