Thursday, March 22, 2007

Special Collections & Digital Projects News

African-American and Jewish Oral History Interviews from Muncie Now Accessible

by John B. Straw, Director for Archives and Special Collections Research Center and Directory, Digital Media Repository

Students, faculty, and researchers at Ball State University and from around the world can now hear the voices of Middletown USA as they tell the stories of the African-American and Jewish experience in Muncie, Indiana. The words illustrating the life and culture of persons past and present can be heard and read anywhere, anytime through a new collection that is now accessible through the Ball State University Digital Media Repository, a project of the University Libraries.

Two oral history collections from the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections Research Center have been digitized and transcribed and are now available for study, research, and classroom instruction via the Internet. The audio and transcripts of the “Black Muncie Oral History Project Collection” and the “Middletown Jewish Oral History Project I Collection” can be accessed in the Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu, under the “Middletown Digital Oral History Collection.”

The Black Muncie Oral History Project was conducted from 1971 to 1978 by Hurley Goodall, Ball State professor J. Paul Mitchell, and Ball State graduate students, with a grant from the Muncie Human Rights Commission. The interviews with longtime African-American residents of Muncie include discussions of subjects such as segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Depression, organized labor, and the economic, social, and religious experiences of African-Americans.

The Middletown Jewish Oral History Project I was conducted in 1978 and 1979 by Ball State
University professors Warren Vander Hill and Dwight Hoover, under the sponsorship of Mr. Martin Schwartz. The interviews document Muncie’s Jewish community during the 1920s and 1930s. Topics discussed include anti-Semitism, the Ku Klux Klan, and other economic, social, and religious issues.

These two collections will be joined by two other African-American oral history collections, another Jewish one, and three collections of oral histories conducted with members from the parishes of the Catholic churches in Muncie to make up the Middletown Digital Oral History Collection.

The creation of this digital oral history resource was made possible by a $25,125 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) that was awarded to the University Libraries by the State Library of Indiana for fiscal year 2006-2007. This is the second consecutive LSTA grant for digitization awarded to the University Libraries.

For more information, contact John B. Straw, Ball State University Libraries’ Director, Digital Media Repository, JStraw@bsu.edu, (765) 285-5078.

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