Events & News

Learning from Texas: The Power of Oral Histories

April 5, 2011
6:30 PM
World Monuments Fund

Much was to be learned at our inspirational event “Learning from Texas: The Power of Oral Histories,” co-sponsored by the New York Restoration Project. The evening explored the innovative Texas Legacy Project, a vast series of over 200 videotaped oral histories by the Conservation History Association of Texas. These oral histories chronicle the thrilling stories of Texans who felt compelled to preserve and protect their rich natural legacy. These grassroots conservationists range from farmers to environmental attorneys, many of whom risked their reputations, their finances, and even their lives in their quests. Through the personal stories and unique voices of an array of dedicated Texas preservationists, these conservation battles come to life on video, all of which have been archived online alongside audio, text and various other supplemental materials. In conjunction with this archive’s creation, a book entitled The Texas Legacy Project: Stories of Courage and Conservation, was published featuring excerpts from over 60 of these oral histories. David Weisman, documentary filmmaker and co-editor of this book, joined us in a very lively discussion of this fascinating undertaking, including the project’s genesis, the role and benefits of video-recorded oral histories, and the intricacies of creating user-friendly, searchable archives from raw interview materials. Weisman also guided the audience through the Texas Legacy Project website, exploring the ways in which the finished oral history material can be presented. The diverse range of non-profits, grassroots organizations and oral history specialists present during this discussion were deeply inspired by the complex and hyper-organized approach to tackling such a vast project, and listened in rapt attention to this model from Texas. Throughout the evening there were many instances in which the parallels between this project and those currently underway in New York were readily apparent. In fact, several of the audience members expressed great interest in replicating its proactive techniques. And while it might take time for the evening’s lessons to take root, the project is sure to have a lasting impact on the city.

World Monuments Fund
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2412
New York, NY 10119
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Above: Detail from cover of the Texas Legacy Project: Stories of Courage and Conservation; Courtesy of Conservation History Association of Texas