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Free Oral History Training Sessions in Denton and Cambridge

Jan 06, 2011 11:14PM ● By Anonymous

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad 2013 Initiative has been in progress for some time now, and includes four Tubman-related projects: a new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park; the 125-mile Maryland segment of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which traverses Caroline and Dorchester counties; a proposed national park honoring Tubman in Caroline and Dorchester counties; and coordination with the Delaware segment of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. These projects are planned to be in place by March 2013—100 years after Tubman’s passing¬—with the help of a grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

As part of this massive undertaking, the tourism offices of Caroline and Dorchester counties, in partnership with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African-American History and Culture, Maryland Office of Tourism Development, and Maryland Park Service, are offering two free oral history training sessions, available to the public. The information for these sessions is as follows:


  • Monday, November 8
    6:30-9 p.m.
    Museum of Rural Life
    16 N. 2nd St., Denton, MD 21629-1004
    For registration, contact Kathy Mackel at 410-479-0655
  • Saturday, November 13
    10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Chesapeake College Cambridge Center
    416-418 Race St., Room 101, Cambridge, MD 21613
    For registration, contact Amanda Fenstermaker at 410-228-1000

Anne Kyle, project manager for Maryland Office of Tourism Development, explains that representatives from the Reginald F. Lewis Museum will facilitate the two sessions, which will focus on techniques such as: preparing for the interview, conducting background research, composing interview questions, release forms, and completing the assignment. The idea is that volunteers who receive this training will then be asked to conduct interviews of Caroline and Dorchester county residents with stories related to Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad, and the antebellum post-Civil War life on the Shore.

Eventually, Kyle hopes that these recorded interviews will be incorporated into the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad 2013 Initiative in the form of film, podcasts, and audio tours of the byway, available to the public at the new Visitors’ Center and at stops along the byway. These elements will lend “local flair and anecdotes, making the exhibits more human and relevant to people living on the Eastern Shore today,” says Kyle. She says that the inspiration behind this project came from residents themselves, who reported to their county tourism offices that they “wanted to be included; they wanted to have their voices heard.”

One proponent of the project, Amanda Fenstermaker, director of Dorchester County Tourism, is excited at the opportunities it presents. “Through this interview project residents will have a chance to record their stories for posterity, teach others about the community's legacy and make the landscape of the Eastern Shore come alive while sharing the rich traditions and heritage of stories told for generations,” she says.

Kyle agrees, noting the importance of documenting the past. Hopefully, these interviews will be finished by spring 2011, leaving plenty of time for the preparation of exhibits for the project. The goal is “to make history of the Eastern Shore come alive,” Kyle says, and the first step is recording the stories of its inhabitants.