Oral History Circle IV

Editor: Maria Graham

Oral History Circle IV convened this fall on Saturday, October 4.  An intrepid group of current, past  and future oral historians along with significant others gathered at the beautiful Hanover home of Donna DiFillippo and Michael Ruttner.  Those who braved the dreary weather were cheered by their hospitality, a warm and dry fire and good wine.  Wole Ojurongbe, from the MALS office, also warmed things up with his spicy chicken wings.

Gracious hosts: Donna and Mike

The topics of conversation during this networking opportunity ranged from upcoming travel plans (the Frommers would be off to the U.K. within a week to learn about efforts to revive the Welsh language)  to whether Bridget Graham sleeps through the night (not yet).  Some could not resist sneaking into the den to watch a few minutes of the baseball playoffs that were underway while Wole's adorable little daughter, Ayanbi, fed potato chips to the family dog.  Amid all the fun, informal conversation focused on current and projected oral history works.

Jerry LaMothe has updated his oral history thesis: One Valley, Two Centuries: Several Familie­s in North Danville, VT, to include fifty pages of photographs. A $1,000 grant from a local source helped defray the costs involved.  Since then, Jerry has sold approximately one hundred copies of this enhanced version to libraries, museums, and local residents. His project is an example of how a thesis can live a useful life after formal completion of the MALS degree. By the way, Jerry is actively looking for a teaching job (secondary school: history or English) in the Vermont/New Hampshire region. Let the Frommers know of any leads and they’ll pass the information along.

Two of the attendees spoke of their oral history independent studies with Harvey currently under way.  Brad Rathgeber’s focus is on gay athletes at Dartmouth; Donna’s is on the impact of alcoholism on a family.  Brad plans to do an oral history thesis about the former pro hockey team Hartford Whalers and its relocation and transformation into the Carolina Hurricanes. He hopes to uncover effects of this move on both communities through the medium of first-hand testimony.

New students who attended OHC IV included Jen Kocsmiersky, who became intrigued with oral history after sitting in on a session of MALS 191 last spring, and Tom Neeley who was anticipating his first New Hampshire winter after leaving the sunshine of California.

New Oral Historians

Future Oral Historians: Bridget and Ayanbi with their dads

Harvey mentioned several upcoming projects for the Frommer team, including a proposal in the works for It Happened in Gay New York.  Myrna’s oral biography: Always Up Front, the story of a 91-year old Jewish woman activist, should be published in the spring of ?4 while Harvey’s newest venture (co-authored by his son Fred): THE GREAT RIVALRY ?NEW YORK YANKEES VS. BOSTON RED SOX,  set to be released the first day of the ?4 baseball season, makes extensive use of oral history.

If you missed it in hardcover, just out this month in paperback is Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests.  This is not your mother's oral history; as Publishers Weekly says, this is a "treasure trove of backstage gossip, sex and drugs."  Check it out!

Thanks to Graham Reed and Brad Rathgeber who took over responsibility for writing and distributing the Oral History Newsletter while I took a break from academic duties to concentrate on being Bridget's mother.

Please email me at maria.graham@dartmouth.edu regarding what you are up to now or what you are planning for the future.  We all want to hear about what is happening in our Oral History Nation!



Contact Myrna or Harvey