Formulating Footnotes: Week of April 16th

Good day, readers!

I have some exciting news regarding The oral history of Bob Gross (which I have been working on periodically since last October). Well, it’s finally uploaded to YouTube, meaning it is now available to the public for the entire history and archaeology loving community to utilize and enjoy!

Without further ado, here is the link to the video on the Brevard County Historical Commission’s official YouTube page: 

Bob Gross Oral History Video

I am so pleased with how this project turned out! It was a true team effort that involved many people contributing volunteer hours to make this into a truly professional and engaging production. Our library director, Jeff Thompson, worked tirelessly after filming to make sure audio levels, transitions, and inserted images all turned out right.

In that regard, I feel like this has been a great hands-on learning experience with working on a team to design and realize a creative project. I’ve certainly gained a lot of practical appreciation for the importance of communication and compromise in order to keep things running smoothly!

As far as my part turned out, it was a little strange to hear my own voice as interviewer at first…but I’m actually quite proud with how my interview skills held up! Putting in the time to consult with Bob and conduct pre-interviews really helped me prepare to put my best foot forward in the actual interview setting.

In reflection, I’m so glad I was able to take on a lead role for this project. Bob is a really fascinating and knowledgable individual, and I feel really fortunate to have been so involved with this project. (So if you’re reading this, thank you, Bob!)

If you haven’t been following this project’s progress up to this point, my responsibilities included:

  • Researching Bob’s life and Archaeology in Brevard County
  • Drafting Interview Questions
  • Conducting Pre-interviews
  • Serving as Interviewer
  • Editing the transcript for accuracy
  • Inserting and Consulting with Bob on Footnotes
  • Writing a Biographic/Informative Summary for YouTube
  • Uploading the project to YouTube

To learn more, I encourage you to check out these posts to which discuss Bob’s personal history and my work on this project in further detail: 

Recent weeks have mostly consisted of adding footnotes to the transcript to ensure the viewer has the most relevant information at their disposal. Typically, a transcript I work on may only have only a few footnotes to provide clarification and additional sources. However, since Bob Gross is a regular volunteer at the library with the Historical Commission, he has been able to provide me with countless pieces of information that I’ve been adding to the transcript to supplement and enhance the content discussed in the oral history.

My crowded workspace full of corrections and footnotes to be added to the Bob Gross transcript.

This process has involved a lot of teamwork between Bob and I to ensure the information presented in the transcript is correct. Bob possesses a wealth of information and insights, and I’ve been extremely grateful for his continued involvement with this project to make it the best possible representation of his life and experiences with archaeology in Brevard.

Working on an original oral history has been the most rewarding experience of working with the Brevard Historical Commission so far. I’ve greatly enjoyed working on uploading old treasures from the Commission’s oral history archive, but there has been something profoundly satisfying in producing an oral history from scratch. It’s been a lesson in patience, teamwork, and dedication, but I believe that it has definitely been worth all of the time and effort!

As soon as the footnotes are finalized, the transcript will be linked on the Brevard County website’s oral history page, found here.

I am hopeful I will continue to be involved with new oral history projects in the future!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Heather Pierce

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Black History Month: Week of February 26th

Happy Black History Month, everyone! As I continue to work on projects with the Brevard County Historical Commission, I was invited to attend the Black History Month Celebration at the Brevard County Government Center, which is organized by the Brevard County Government Cultural Diversity Team.

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For 2018, the theme of the event was African Americans in Times of War. The program featured numerous presentations that included personal stories of local members of the Armed Forces, a recreation of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, musical performances by local school children, and a short lecture on African Americans’ instrumental roles throughout American military history, from the Revolutionary War up through the present War on Terror.

The presentation was particularly moving because it had a strong focus on the local African American community. In accordance with this theme, the keynote speaker was Chief Master Sgt. Eugene C. Johnson, who was recently recognized as a 2017 Central Florida Humanitarian Honoree. Mr. Johnson has been a pillar of excellence in the community, serving as a Brevard Community College trustee and Chairman of the Board, as well as years on the Wuesthoff Hospital Board of Directors. Most notably, he created the Reginald E. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund Club, Inc., in honor of his son Reginald, who tragically lost his life in a training accident less than a month before graduating from West Point. The scholarship fund has given over 1,500 graduating seniors in Brevard County the opportunity to pursue a college education.

As far as our role at the event, the Historical Commission hosted a booth that featured historic newspaper clippings with articles on local African Americans involved in the military. We also brought a portable TV with DVD player that played several of our oral histories that feature members of the African American Community. I was particularly excited to help with this part of the display!

Overall, it was a great experience to get out into the community and see so many people interested in local history. We even had a display board advertising our Historical Commission’s YouTube page. I’m hoping that this event will bring more traffic to our channel!

If you are interested in learning more about African American history in Brevard County, I encourage you to take a look at the Black History playlist I created on our YouTube page here.

In other good news, I was also able to get the Evangeline Moore video transcribed and will be posting it soon to our YouTube page. This is an extremely important oral history for our community because it focuses on the Moore family. Evangeline was the daughter of Harry T. Moore, an influential Civil Rights leader who became the victim of a terror attack at his Mims home. Please check out this post, I made previously, where I discuss the Moore family in more detail.

Thank you for reading!

-Heather Pierce

Oral History Reflections

Hello, everyone!

So sorry to keep you waiting on updates for my interview with Bob Gross. The reality of such a project is that there are often lots of details to work out before it can be completed. Our library director Jeff Thompson has been hard at work putting together the footage he shot of my interview with Bob in October (discussed in detail in this post). The rewarding part of this experience is that the Brevard Library system has professional film editing equipment and software that allows for modifications to be made after the filming process. For instance, the photos that Bob has shared with me that correspond with various topics discussed in the interview have been digitized and embedded into the interview itself. This type of editing allows for a more dynamic experience for the viewer, which is very important in oral histories that frequently mention specific locations and people.

While I’ve been awaiting the finished footage to send for transcribing, I’ve been working on other miscellaneous projects for the Historical Commission. This includes a new project of transferring all of the newly edited oral histories onto DVD’s that will become a permanent, archived collection in the Central Brevard Library available for reference. It’s rewarding to see the all of the oral histories I worked on being made available to local patrons and researchers.

Creating new DVD’s with edited Oral History Files

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Creating new DVD’s with edited Oral History files.

This internship has continued to teach me many valuable skills that I hope to carry on to future projects. I’ve grown tremendously in my use of technology to preserve and communicate the history of my local community. In fact, I’ve found the marriage of history and technology to be a match made in heaven. At first I was worried about using these new programs, but I quickly found that expanding upon my technological skills has been equal parts challenging and rewarding.

I’ve learned video editing techniques in Adobe Premiere Elements, utilized digital file converting software, worked on editing professional audio transcripts, crafted biographical descriptions, and uploaded content to and managed the Historical Commission’s YouTube page.

This is all on top of the other useful skills I’ve had the opportunity to utilize including researching oral history subjects using databases such as Ancestry.com, ProQuest, and the physical collection of the county’s genealogical department. I’ve also utilized the microfilm machines and helped scan and organize important, local photo collections in the form of the Weona Cleveland collection.

Even creating and maintaining this WordPress blog has been a useful learning experience in basic web design and blogging techniques!

Most of all, I’m proud of my contributions to the Oral History project as a whole. At this point, I have worked on 30 oral history videos including editing footage, proofreading transcripts, writing researched biographical descriptions, and posting finished videos to YouTube.

To come full circle, the most rewarding experience so far was being able to research, create questions, and act as interviewer in an new oral history with Bob Gross. While I don’t have the video uploaded at the time of posting this update, I will embed the video link below as soon as it is available.

^ So please continue to check this page for updates!^

I continue to be grateful to my supervisor Mr. Michael Boonstra and the wonderful group of employees, volunteers, and patrons who help make my internship experience so educational and memorable!

-Heather Pierce

Digitizing Vintage Photos: Week of November 13th

Hello,

The past couple of weeks while we’ve been waiting on our library director Mr. Jeff Thompson to finish editing the footage of our oral history with Bob Gross, I’ve been helping with another project at the Historical Commission. (To read more about my original oral history project, check out this post!)

This ongoing project is scanning, editing, and archiving the photo collection of Weona Cleveland. Weona Cleveland is a local journalist and historian whose articles about Brevard County history first appeared in the Melbourne Times in the 1970s and later in the Florida Today newspaper. She first came to Brevard from Atlanta, Georgia in 1961 and has spent over 40 years writing articles and researching local history.

Some of Weona’s accomplishments include:

  • Writing for the Indian River Journal (A publication of the Brevard County Historical Commission)
  • Authoring several books including: Melbourne: A Century of Memories (1980), Crossroad Towns Remembered: A Look Back at Brevard and Indian River Pioneer Communities (1994), A Historical Tour of Melbourne (1999), and Mosquito Soup (2014)
  • Researching and writing the text for historical markers in Melbourne and Eau Gallie
  • Receiving the Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award from Florida Technical Institute for her research on Brevard County’s African American community

(To find out more about Weona Cleveland, including about her most recent work Mosquito Soup, please refer to this article on the website of the Florida Historical Society.)

The photos in her collection are now in the archives of the Brevard County Historical Commission. They span a wide range of time periods and subjects and are currently being stored in a series of photo binders.

My task has been to scan these images and edit them for resolution, contrast, and brightness. Since many of these photos are old while some are copies of originals, they have varying editing needs. Thankfully, most are able to produce high quality, digital images using the computer and scanner at the library.

The next task is organizing the photos into digital files with appropriate names to identify the subject of the image and any other pertinent information (such as dates and locations provided on the back of the photo).

While I’ve enjoyed working with the oral history video footage, I’ve found working with these old photographs to also be rewarding. I enjoy finding the right balance of contrast and brighting to create the best looking image. At some point in the near future, the Historical Commission will begin using a digital archiving software called “Past Perfect” to inventory and make the photo collections housed at the library available online. (Once again, the future is digital!)

Thus, the scanning and digital editing of these photos, especially the valuable photos in the Weona Cleveland collection, is a really important task!

I’m glad to change things up and get exposure to a new type of project at the Historical Commission while I wait to finish editing Bob Gross’s oral history.

Now, without further ado, please enjoy a selection of some of my favorite photos from the Weona Cleveland collection:

001 Eau Gallie Blvd. to Indian Harbor Beach looking South to Melbourne Causeway
Eau Gallie Blvd. to Indian Harbor Beach looking South to Melbourne Causeway
002 Melbourne Indialantic Bus Line Postcard
Melbourne Indialantic Bus Line
002 Nannie Lee's Strawberry Mansion, early 1900s
Nannie Lee’s Strawberry Mansion, early 1900s
004 Melbourne, US 1 and New Haven, 1950s
Melbourne; US1 and New Haven 1950s
005 Waiting for the Ferry (Possibly Melbourne Beach)
Melbourne Beach Pier
010 Melbourne Library
First Melbourne Library
021 U.S. 1 Near Site of Brevard Hospital looking North
Old Dixie Highway (US1) Near Melbourne Hospital
027 Possibly Hollis Bottomley with Friends ca. 1920s
Possibly Hollis Bottomley with Friends ca. 1920s
029 Plane Crash ca. 1920s
Plane Crash ca. 1920s
033 Chain Gang Oct. 10, 1924
Chain Gang 1924
038 First Public School in Melbourne, taken ca. 1898
1898: First Public School in Melbourne
040 Mayday celebration
Mayday Celebration
051 Melbourne Fire Dept. ca. 1929
Melbourne Fire Department 1929
053 Lee House AKA Lily Tidwell's
Lee House AKA Lily Tidwell’s
059 President Harding in Melbourne 1923
President Harding in Melbourne 1923
062 Melbourne Ave. Melbourne “School” band
Melbourne Ave. Melbourne High School Band

Continue reading “Digitizing Vintage Photos: Week of November 13th”

Finally Filmed: Week of October 23rd

Hello, readers!

The last couple of weeks at the Historical Commission have been very exciting for me. Why? Because I was finally able to take part in the filming of a brand new oral history! I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment that I was able to actively shape an oral history that will become a permanent part of the Historical Commission’s collection.

The interview was with Bob Gross, who I gave a small introduction to in my post: Endings, Beginnings, Turpentine and more: Week of September 25th.

In this post I will give you a more detailed look at Bob and the interview topics, as well as what the interview process was like for me.

Bob Gross is:

  • A past and present member of the Indian River Anthropological Society
  • A lifetime member of the Florida Anthropological Society, Board of Directors member, and Chair of an archive committee
  • A lifetime member of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference
  • Founding director and lifetime member of the South Brevard Historical Society
  • Past Chairperson of the Brevard County Historical Commission

Bob was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved to the Melbourne, Florida neighborhood known as the “Bluff” in 1958, when he was 7 years old.

The theme of this interview centers on the rich history of archaeology in Brevard and his lifelong involvement with the field.

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Bob Gross working at an archaeological site.

Bob’s interest in archaeology began when his boyhood neighbor, Frances Arnold Shave, told him stories about her life growing up in a cabin on a Native American mound near Malabar. These stories inspired Bob as a kid to investigate the mound. His enthusiasm was rewarded when he unearthed his first artifacts, an old, hand-wrought hinge and a pottery sherd.

Luckily, Bob still has the hinge in his possession and was able to bring it for the interview! Check it out:

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Bob Gross’s first artifact he found as a boy, an old hand-wrought hinge he discovered at a Native American mound.

Bob went on to participate in many archaeological groups and events during his youth. This included competing in an international science fair competition while attending Melbourne High School, apprenticing with archaeologist A.T. Anderson, and going on to study archaeology at the University of Florida, which he graduated from in 1973.

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Bob Gross as a boy with A.T. Anderson. at South Indian Field, 1964

A portion of Bob’s interview contains a synopsis of important archaeological events in Brevard’s history. This includes evidence of Native Americans themselves digging older sites, the destruction of shell mounds to pave local roads, the arrival of notable archaeologists to study important sites like the Melbourne Bone Beds, and even WPA projects designed to excavate local areas. I will encourage you to listen to Bob’s interview and reference his transcript once it is posted, as his explanation of Brevard’s archaeological timeline is much more detailed and compelling than I am able to write about here.

I will say that the Melbourne Bone Bed is particularly interesting because it is a paleolithic site that contains the fossilized remains of mammoth and other long extinct animals that lived in the area approximately 20,000 to 10,000 years before present day. Most interestingly, human remains were also discovered indicating that native inhabitants coexisted with Pleistocene animals towards the end of the period. This site even drew the attention of Frederick B. Loomis from Amherst College and James Gidley of the Smithsonian Institute, inspiring years of study.

Other topics discussed include the dangers facing sites today (such as looting, rising sea levels, and urbanization), Bob’s insight into the county’s responsibility regarding protecting local sites, and his impressive resume working with local and regional groups.


The interview itself was actually the easy part. In preparation for the actual filming, I had a lot of background work to do. Thankfully, Bob Gross is a regular volunteer with the Brevard County Historical Commission, and was even a former chairperson, so he was always around and ready to help with the preparation process. (Thank you, Bob!)

My tasks included doing a preliminary background interview, drafting interview questions, securing photographs from Bob to accompany the interview, and rehearsing my role as interviewer.

I’ve watched a lot of oral histories during my time working at this internship. Some have been really well researched and carefully filmed. Some interviews were done spontaneously and were less structured. It was important to me that I found a tone that struck a balance between informative and conversational.

When Jeff Thompson, the Director of Brevard County Libraries, arrived to act as our camera man and producer, I was a little nervous. It was hard not to be a little intimidated by the professional camera, lighting, and sound equipment. However, everyone was very friendly and excited to work on this project, which helped calm my nerves considerably!

The big surprise was when my supervisor and archivist, Michael Boonstra, encouraged me to go solo as the interviewer! I had expected to fulfill a co-interviewer role, but Mr. Boonstra assured me that my research and preparation would allow me to do fine on my own.

Thankfully, I think I was able to do a pretty good job! I was much less nervous than I anticipated once the camera started rolling. It seems that my preparation paid off!

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The setup of the interview. I (Heather Pierce) am seated on the right and Bob Gross is seated across on the left.
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Jeff Thompson checking the sound levels on Bob Gross’s mic.
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Bob Gross on camera on the oral history set.

The project is now in the hands of the talented Jeff Thompson, who will professionally edit the footage and prepare it to be sent for transcription. Once it’s at that step, I will take my normal steps to edit the transcript and post the video for everyone to utilize and enjoy!

  • I will post an update and link to the video on this blog once it is ready. I hope you will check it out!
  • I may be a little biased, but I think this video is the most interesting oral history I have had the pleasure to work with so far. I am very thankful to everyone involved in this process including Jeff Thompson, Michael Boonstra, and, of course, Bob Gross!

Until next time, thank you very much for reading!

-Heather Pierce

Oranges and Organization: Week of October 9th

Hello, everyone!

Before I forget, Juanita Wright’s oral history was uploaded to YouTube last week! Juanita is an older member of the Mims community in North Brevard. She discusses some interesting topics including her community’s reliance on midwives for childbirth, her personal mission to improve Mims’s infrastructure, and her hopes for the next generation living in Mims. In particular, she expresses her desire for the youth of Mims to understand the difficult events in Mims’s past, including the presence of the Ku Klux Klan and the murder of Civil Rights Activist Harry T. Moore (who you can find out more information about in this post).

  • You can watch Juanita Wright’s oral history here.

In other news, I had the opportunity to work on a very interesting oral history known as “Firing the Groves” this week. The video features three gentlemen who have decades of experience working in the citrus industry in Brevard. These men are: Coleman Mitchell, Alfonso Wilson, and John Moorer. The video covers topics such as harsh working conditions, worker camps, types of citrus, typical wages, and growing techniques.

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Citrus workers picking fruit in Cocoa, Florida near the Indian River in 1949. Image from the Florida Memory Project: https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/294941

However, the most interesting part of this interview relates to its name, “Firing the Groves.” This actually refers to the technique of keeping citrus trees warm and protected during freezing weather. Believe it or not, Florida actually does get its share of cold weather from time to time. Unfortunately, when that happens, citrus crops and even the trees themselves can be lost causing significant losses in profit and time. This interview reveals that it can take 10 years for a citrus tree to produce a crop that is profitable! Wow, right?

What’s even cooler is that this interview actually showcases a couple of demonstrations. One shows how a citrus tree can be “budded,” which refers to to the process of grafting the plant. The other demonstration is of how an antique metal heater can be fueled and lit to keep groves warm during subfreezing weather.

Other issues such as immigrant migrant workers, a move towards land development over agriculture, and the pressures of sourcing water are also discussed.

I highly recommend checking out this interesting and candid interview to get a sense of what the citrus industry was really like in its heyday!

  • Check out “Firing the Groves” here!

 

The second part of my week has been working on organization. The excel sheet we’ve been using to keep track of the oral histories in our collection is a print out, and things have gotten a little…messy. Lots of notations and messy check marks make it difficult to read clearly. This information really needed to be updated in a digital format that was easier to read and easier to edit. Let’s just say I’ve spent some solid hours squinting at an excel spreadsheet this week!

Another reason to keep these files updated digitally is to allow for easy access to information if something goes wrong. For instance, Brevard County’s website was recently overhauled, resulting in some of our oral histories and their links to go missing from the page. Thankfully, I was able to source the needed information and get them back online with our IT department. However, if I had all the YouTube links and other information in a central place, it would have been a much easier task.

Along a similar line of thinking, I have also been working on getting all of the edited oral history video files, transcript PDF’s, and YouTube description documents put together. Thankfully, I’ve kept all the files I’ve been working on organized in folders and subfolders on the computer. However, previous oral history files that were worked on before I arrived are scattered across several user accounts and aren’t cohesively organized. So my task is to get all these pieces together and backed up in a secure location. I’ll definitely be continuing this process next week.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

-Heather Pierce

 

 

Panels from Cocoa and Mims: Week of September 18th

Hello everyone,

Sorry that there’s been a little delay with my updates! I haven’t been at work due to a major storm that hit our area. Brevard County just weathered Hurricane Irma, which made quite a mess of things in Florida, including knocking out power at the Central Brevard Library in Cocoa, where I work.

Thankfully, things are returning back to normal, and my internship requirements are almost completely satisfied! I’m still learning a lot about history and technology as I work here, so I plan to continue contributing for as long as I am able!

On that note, I have been working on the two panels I mentioned in my last post. The first is the Mosquito Beater Panel. This great group of longtime, often lifetime, Brevard County residents are known for their annual meetings held to discuss the old days in Brevard County. It was great to work on this panel because it contained the founding member, George Harrell, known as “Speedy.” (If you are interested in the Mosquito Beaters, I suggest checking out my last blog post: Historic Homes and Panels: Week of August 28th).

In addition, there is also a lot of discussion of baseball in this panel. Baseball was an extremely popular sport in Brevard County and the area attracted many people who were interested in playing the sport. The interview talks about how businesses in Cocoa even shut down to let employees see local games! One of the more interesting mentions is of a ballplayer named Felipe Alou. He was a black player who came to Cocoa before he made it big in the Major League. Mr. Boonstra and I had to do a little searching to find information on his time on Cocoa, but here is a small passage from a larger article we found on the website for the Society for American Baseball Research:

Alou began his professional career in Lake Charles, Louisiana, helping to integrate the Evangeline League. Soon after he arrived, the league voted to expel Lake Charles and Lafayette (the two clubs that had black players).8 Instead, the blacks were shifted to other teams in other leagues; Alou, having just arrived in the United States, rode a bus to Cocoa, Florida to play in the Florida State League. Desperately homesick, and stung by racism for the first time in his life, he pulled it together enough to hit a league-leading .380 with 21 home runs. [source]

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  • I think this interview will be a popular one on our YouTube channel, check it out by clicking here!


The other panel I’ve been working on is of four gentlemen from Mims, Florida, which is in the north part of Brevard County. They are: Samuel Hendrix, Joseph Ricard, P.W. Robert, and Ralph Sharpe.

The panel is quite lengthy, with a 42 page printed transcript, but it contains some great information on the people and places that made the Mims community unique. What’s even better is that the four gentlemen are good friends and grew up knowing one another. Thus, there’s a lot of funny personal stories from their boyhood that are both entertaining and informative about what it was like growing up in the 1920s and 30s in rural Brevard.

As always, Ancestry.com has been a huge help in my research efforts. I was able to verify correct spellings, locate extended family members, and confirm occupation information for many of the individuals contained in this panel. Using Ancestry has been a great experience in learning how databases work, as I’m frequently challenged to find alternative means of looking up information. For instance, I am frequently conducting multiple searches based on location, last name, or occupation. Family members are best found when using census documents, but military draft cards can also supply next of kin information. Also, by expanding the parameters of the search, such as being flexible in the spelling of names, can yield more successful results.

Here is an instance of finding an individual through Ancestry under the draft card option. In this instance I did not have the correct spelling of “McLemore,” but took a guess with the flexible spelling option enabled, and was able to locate his information and confirm his identity with his place of residence (Mims, Florida).

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The Mims panel was particularly informative because it contained a lot of information about the Citrus Industry. This included information about the Blue Goose Packing House, in Mims. The panelists describe the process of picking, packing, and labeling the Indian Fruit before it went to market across the country. The families of these panelists were directly involved with this industry, including building the crates that were used to ship the fruit.

Here’s a vintage label from the Blue Goose Packing House:

bluegoose.jpg

There is also discussion of the Great Depression, WPA projects, World War II, pastimes like hunting and horseback riding, and other local interests. This panel is particularly rich with personal stories that feature entertaining stories about creating moonshine, schoolboy pranks, going camping, and family gossip.

That panel should be posted by next week! I will link it here when it becomes available.


Finally, I have an exciting piece of news to share, I may be able to work on a brand new oral history! It will be filmed here at the Central Library and I will be able to work on research, creating questions, and conducting the interview! I’m very excited about this possibility, but can’t share too much information yet. It’s often difficult to get all the pieces to fall into place for these projects to happen, including scheduling, execution, and editing. However, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this prospect will turn into reality!

Thanks so much for reading! See you next time!

-Heather Pierce