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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“Moore” As Promised! Week of March 12th

Hello readers,

This week I had the pleasure of finishing up a project I started some months ago featured in this post. It is the interview of Evangeline Moore, the daughter of well-respected Civil Rights activist Harry T. Moore.

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Evangeline Moore

The Moore family was treasured by the community of Mims in North Brevard for their frequent demonstrations of generosity and leadership. This respect and admiration is clearly illustrated in this town hall style interview filmed in 2005 at the Harry T. & Harriette V. MooreCultural Complex in Mims.

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  • Here is the link to the finished video!

And here is some information I wrote for the finished YouTube video’s description:

Juanita Evangeline Moore was born September 3, 1930, in Mims, Florida. She was one of two children of Civil Rights activist and martyr Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette Moore. This interview was filmed in 2005 and features an open audience discussion at the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex located at 2180 Freedom Ave. in Mims, Florida. Evangeline discusses her father’s important work within the local community, as well as his wider Civil Rights efforts across the region. Harry T. Moore was an educator, NAACP leader, staunch Christian, and champion of Black Rights. Known for his dedication to getting members of the Black Community registered to vote with his formation of the Florida Progressive Voters League, as well as his efforts to educate his local community, Harry T. Moore was beloved by the people of Mims, and was especially dear to his daughter, Evangeline. Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette were killed on Christmas night of 1951 when a bomb exploded under their Mims home. Evangeline discusses this deeply tragic event, considered by many to be the nation’s first Civil Rights assassination, and its public and personal repercussions.

While this interview features audience questions that drive at the heart of Mr. Moore’s influence in his community and on the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, there are also many personal questions that seek to illuminate Evangeline’s personal experiences. This includes discussing her close relationship with her parents and her struggles as a young woman growing up in a time of segregation and racial tensions in the South. Evangeline describes her parents’ efforts to shelter her from racial hatred as a child and the struggles she continued to face as a young woman working in Washington D.C. This interview is a valuable testament to the struggles of the Black Community in Mims, and serves as a reflection of the nation’s racial struggles at this time.

Unfortunately, this video did suffer from some electrical feedback noise on the original recording. However, after some sound editing in our Adobe Premiere program, I was able to clean up the audio track quite a bit. If you are interested in learning some more about how I was able to clean up this “blue” electrical noise, please check out this post, in which I used the same process on one of our Joe Wickham interviews. In short, it was a process of learning how find the right frequency to cancel out the existing feedback noise in the video.

My supervisor Mr. Boonstra and I were hoping to find a cleaner recording of the interview, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to find a copy. However, we both agreed that the content of the video had too much local importance not to make available to the local and wider community through our YouTube channel.

Above all, viewers of this interview will be treated to numerous personal anecdotes and insights related to the Moore legacy in Brevard. And after attending the Black History Month event last month at the Brevard County Government Center, I’m really excited to have this video added to our Black History in Brevard Playlist!

Please look forward to more posts including the link the oral history with Bob Gross, which I had the pleasure to serve as researcher, organizer, and interviewer!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

-Heather Pierce

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

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

 

 

Endings, Beginnings, Turpentine and more: Week of September 25th

Hello everyone,

As of this week I’ve finished up the requirements for my internship program! It’s been such an amazing experience to work with the Brevard County Historical Commission learning about history, technology, and my own community! I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment. During this internship I have worked on over 26 oral history videos and learned many new research and technological skills. I’ve gained experience working with Adobe video editing, proofreading techniques, used new research databases like Ancestry.com, utilized microfilm and archived materials, and interacted with patrons and volunteers at the library.

While I have met the original requirements for the internship, I have been invited to  remain working with the Brevard County Historical Commission on continuing projects. (That includes an original oral history that I began working on last week!)

So far, I have drafted potential interview questions, conducted a pre-interview background meeting, and began organizing an outline for the structure of the interview. The interview subject we are planning on is a gentleman named Bob Gross. He is a very interesting individual who has an extensive background in the historical and archaeological societies and organizations in Brevard County. I first met Bob at the Florida Historical Society when I was completing my undergraduate internship in 2015. He is a volunteer there and also volunteers at the Brevard County Historical Commission. He grew up in Melbourne, Florida after moving here as a young boy. One of his main interests is archaeology, and he was involved in the field from a young age.

Bob was a founding member of many archaeological societies in the region and still actively participates in site excavations and recording. Thus, this interview will focus mainly on his involvement with archaeology in Brevard County.

I will have lots more information on Bob as the interview draws nearer!


Updates:

  • In other news, the oral history panel for the Mosquito Beaters is officially up online! Check it out by clicking here, and take a look at last week’s post to get more information about its contents and importance!
  • I also was able to update and publish about a dozen playlists to the Brevard County Historical Commission’s YouTube page. This organizes the videos into categories which include location based playlists (Melbourne, Cocoa, etc.) and topic playlists (NASA, Black History, etc.) Check them out here!

This week I worked on two new oral histories from the Mims area. They are Lena Stokes and Juanita Wright. They are both very short interviews, less than 20 minutes each, however they have some interesting things to say about life in rural Mims.

  • The first is with Lena Curry-Stokes, and it is already available on YouTube here!

Lena Stokes was born in 1944 in Mims along State Road 46. She was born to a family working at the turpentine camp in the area. She describes the raised wooden house she lived in, the lack of electricity, and the lack of paved roads. Interestingly, she describes her best friend as a little white girl, and mentions how the camp was integrated with whites and blacks.

Harvesting turpentine was hard and dirty work, but it was very prevalent in Florida. It involved collecting resin from pine trees to be processed in such a way that it could be used by industries like the Navy.

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“Dipping and Scraping Pine Trees, Turpentine Industry in Florida” Image credit to Central Florida Memory

Once again, Ancestry.com came in handy supplying information via draft cards and other documents for identifying family names.

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Here is Lena Curry-Stoke’s father’s draft card confirming her mother’s name as Viola.

What I found particularly interesting about this brief interview is the discussion of folk medicine and home remedies. Several Oral histories have mentioned using spider webs to stop bleeding. At first I was skeptical, but after hearing it in so many oral histories and doing a quick Google search, it indeed does work as a way to stop bleeding and clot wounds! While that’s definitely a fun fact to file away, I don’t think I’ll be trying it anytime soon…


Finally, the interview with Juanita Wright will be posted next week and discusses some interesting information about how Mims has changed throughout the years. Juanita was born in 1922 and has seen many physical and cultural changes in her lifetime. Check back on my blog for more information and a link to YouTube!

Thank you for reading! I will continue to post updates to this blog as I finish up projects initiated by my internship with the Brevard County Historical Commission.

See you next time!

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:

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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