LSU Libraries’ Special Collections will open a new exhibition, titled “Have You Heard? The Past in First Person from the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History,” which will be on display from Nov. 12 through March 8 at Hill Memorial Library on LSU’s campus.
In addition, oral historian Joel Gardner will lecture about the exhibition on Friday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. at Hill Memorial Library’s lecture hall. A reception will follow the talk. The exhibition and talk are free and open to the public.
“Have You Heard” showcases a diverse selection of oral history interviews covering topics such as LSU history, World War II, the Houma Indians, Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina, the Flood of 1927, folklife in the Atchafalaya and Louisiana politics.
Visitors will learn about student Grover Rees’ two-day journey on four trains and a ferry to get from Breaux Bridge to LSU in 1908; Huey P. Long’s attempt to convince LSU football star Abe Mickal to run for the Louisiana Senate; World War II nurse Ida Turcan’s experience in North Africa and in Europe during the Battle of the Bulge, where she experienced living with a daily allotment of one helmet full of water to take care of hygienic and personal laundry needs; and veteran Millard Brewer’s participation in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp.
Coupled with related images, manuscript collections, and published materials from Special Collections, the words and voices of the interviewees bring history to life. Listening stations will showcase audio interviews about the Civil Rights movement in Baton Rouge, Vietnamese refugees relocating in Louisiana, the history of women’s education at LSU and more. Visitors can listen to various showcased excerpts through portable listening devices, which will be loaned to visitors by request.
The library is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturdays. When classes are in session, the library is also open Tuesday evenings until 8 p.m. More information is available at www.lib.lsu.edu/special or by calling 225-578-6544.
For the related lecture, Gardner will speak on oral history in Louisiana, the founding of the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, and the importance of documenting Louisiana culture and history. Gardner has directed several oral history projects and programs in Louisiana, served as copy editor of “Louisiana Folklife A Guide to the State,” and was actively involved in the founding of the Williams Center. Gardner is the author of Oral History for Louisiana (1981), Looking Back: A Guide to Genealogical Research in Louisiana (1983), and Built in Louisiana: A Social History of Louisiana Carpenters (1985). He has interviewed dozens of people in all walks of life on topics ranging from television production to sports to publishing. In 1987, he founded Gardner Associates to conduct oral history research for corporations and institutions in the Delaware Valley.
The T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, or THWCOH, collects and preserves, through the use of recorded interviews, unique and valuable information about Louisiana history and culture.
Image: from Mississippi River Flood of 1927 Album, Photograph by Jasper Ewing
Leah W. Jewett