As a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) has awarded the Libraries’ T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History $10,000 in emergency relief to help fund a graduate assistantship for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Because of LEH’s Culture Care Fund award, the Center for Oral History will be able to continue to conduct novel interviews and perform vital processing and audio engineering tasks that will make the Center’s vast collection of Louisiana oral histories more accessible to scholars and the public.
The competitive LEH Culture Care Fund grant opportunity placed special funding emphasis on programs that serve unrepresented populations in Louisiana. The Williams Center for Oral History has a long tradition of public outreach and preserving stories of marginalized communities, with a vast array of collections depicting the state’s Military History, Civil Rights Era, Women’s history, grassroots politics, and African American history of Louisiana, as well as life in environmentally vulnerable communities like Bayou Lafourche, and Mossville, LA.
Upon receiving word of the LEH Culture Care award, Williams Center director, Jennifer Cramer, expressed her excitement at the Center’s receiving much-needed support during a time of uncertainty and financial strain.
“Not only does this funding help with the Center’s mission to document people and cultures who are not typically included in mainstream historical records, but it will also help provide development for a student to grow as a professional in the field of qualitative research, library science, and oral history,” Cramer said.
The Williams Center for Oral History is the largest and most comprehensive oral history repository in the state and one of the largest in the South. With a goal of democratizing archival materials, the Center uses oral history to create primary sources to fill in the gaps of people who are not typically included in mainstream historical documentation: women, LGBTQ+, African Americans, Latinx, Cajun, Native Americans, and more.
Since 1991, the Center has documented Louisiana’s diverse past by collecting over 6,000 hours of interviews on over 150 different topics. That depth and breadth is largely due to partnerships with like-minded organizations, researchers, community groups, classes, and individuals who work together with the Center to document Louisiana history and culture.
Those who are interested in bringing the rich Louisiana tradition of oral history collection to their community can contact the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History here to learn more about the current research, designing a project from scratch, partnering with the Center, or donating to help support its mission.
Funding for Louisiana Culture Care Fund grants has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and administered by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan. Additional funding provided by the Josef Sternberg Memorial Fund.