Sharing Stories, Building Community
Maryland Humanities brings oral history training to schools and communities with Maryland Voices, an oral history project. Maryland Humanities staff and WYPR’s Aaron Henkin (creator of the award-winning series, Out of the Blocks) lead workshops in schools, libraries, and other community settings.
Workshop leaders introduce groups to oral history techniques and best practices and guide participants in formulating questions and the art of listening. Participants then interview one another. Past workshops have included veterans and high school students. Anticipated future workshops will highlight collecting histories from and by people with disabilities, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants, and others; any group interested will be considered.
Learning how to collect and analyze first-hand experiences helps all participants better understand how history is recorded, why it is valuable, and the concrete ways events impact the lives of individuals. Beyond the historical research skills participants gain through creating original research, oral history builds life skills like empathy, critical reading, self-confidence, intergenerational engagement, and more.
In 2021, Maryland Humanities’ Museum on Main Street and Maryland Voices programs and The Peale collaborated on a story collection project in conjunction with the current statewide tour of the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, Voices and Votes: Democracy in America. The exhibition will tour five Maryland regions, and will feature interviews with newly minted voters (ages 18–24) from those communities. These stories will be shared through the Peale’s “Be Here Stories” app, at a listening station that will become part of the Voices and Votes exhibition, on the Maryland Humanities YouTube channel and elsewhere.