UF Oral History Students Open Shop in Virginia

Published: October 28th, 2014

Category: Feature, History Department News, Recent News

Thanks to grants from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Research, UF history students traveled to eastern Virginia to discuss folklore, traditional crafts, and rural development with residents of Mathews and Middlesex Counties. The inaugural trip featured two oral history open houses in Virginia, a methods workshop, and an interdisciplinary panel open to the public. Almost 30 oral histories were completed in 5 days.

The field research team headed to Virginia was comprised of past and present interns, staff members, graduate students and four undergraduate University Scholars. During the research trip, students explored past and present oral traditions in eastern Virginia as well as economic challenges unique to the area. Mathews and Middlesex, once centers of production for ship captains working with deadrise fishing boats and dredge nets, have suffered economic decline in recent decades paralleling the erosion of the wider Chesapeake’s marine environment. Conducting interviews with residents in Virginia will gives UF students a chance to see the places and lifeways around which local folklore grows and survives, with firsthand access to resources like vernacular architecture, boatbuilding, and local fishing technologies spanning three centuries:

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