Who has a story to tell?

October 8, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Oral history, Research methods

I’m searching and searching for women in history between 1920 and 1970! So many times I find something intriguing and sufficiently documented, then I scramble to find the date and am disappointed; it’s in an era earlier than what I need to focus on. Discouraged and frustrated, I move on but with the story in my head wishing I could tell it. An observation of my search leads me to the women who’s story is being told. Why is there enough information about her available to tell a story? More than likely she is a formal leader, as Belinda Robnett describes in “How Long, How Long? African American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights”. More precisely, women with title positions.

What about the women that didn’t have title positions and were outliers to the formal leaders that left a trail of paperwork and newspaper articles about them? What are their names? Where can I find their story? What were their lives like during this era of Woman’s Civil Rights? As Robnett named formal leaders, she also named my outliers as bridge leaders, but I want to know more about them. Where to next? I’m off to locate local history of woman’s clubs, publications of their involvement in the community and church. With some disappointment I’ve scored only bits and pieces, not yet enough for me to tell a story. I’ve been told that paper documents have not been procured properly or that they don’t exist.

The interpretation of their lives in the community may take a collection of other resources to synthesize such an answer, unless they wrote a memoir for you and its still located in her daughters files! But really, I might as well just start posting fliers soliciting women with a story to tell, preferably within this time period. (ahhh….bazinga moment!) Oral history just took on a whole new meaning.

Robnett, Belinda. (1997). How long? how long? african american women in the struggle for civil rights.. New York: Oxford University Press.

3 responses to Who has a story to tell?

  1. YAY! This is exactly the idea that the Kentucky Commission on Women is wanting to support ~ they are conducting a ten year project in which historians and women’s activists will be soliciting previously unknown documents and oral histories from women all over Kentucky. I know they will be very grateful to have your skills and leadership in this long term project. See the press release from Governor Beshear’s office announcing this project: http://www.governor.ky.gov/pressrelease.htm?PostingGUID=%7B87F49F1C-3300-40D8-A31E-32C411001C4D%7D.

    P.S. I just now found a picture they took during the Votes for Women rally that day in Frankfort on August 26, 2010 – I’m looking on as a KCW board member celebrates during one of the rousing speeches!

  2. This seems really interesting I am impressed and excited to see what you discover!

  3. Whatever you find is going to be valuable information and Im eager to see what you find. Kentucky history is hard to find especially women history, but I know whatever you find will be valuable knowledge.

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