The Hudson Area Library is pleased to announce two newly-launched oral history online archives: the Hudson Area Library Oral History Project (HAL OHP), an open collection of interviews collected locally over the past decade, and the Black Legacy Association of Columbia County Oral History Project (BLACC) collection from the 1980s. The archiving of these collections and development of the digital archives, as well as related community programming offered over the past three years, was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries grant and in partnership with Oral History Summer School (OHSS).
The Hudson Area Library Oral History Project includes oral histories produced by participants in a 2013 workshop at the library led by Suzanne Snider, with assistance from Melinda Braathen, as well as recordings collected by contract and volunteer community members on the library’s behalf over the past decade. To learn more and explore the HAL OHP collection, visit oralhistory.hudsonarealibrary.org.
The BLACC collection was donated to the library by Columbia Opportunities, Incorporated (COI) in 2018. All of the material in this collection was originally assembled by the Columbia County Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by COI. RSVP volunteers, who formed BLACC included: Vivian Austin, Ella Barksdale, Jessie Cooper, Bernice Cross, Edward Cross, Helen Dago Barreiro, Phobe Eaton, Dandridge Harris, James Kerr, Gilbert Lewis, Ethel Loveless, Julia Minisee, Eloise Moore, Marie Parker, Annie Peden, Calvin Pitcher, Otelia Rainer, Grace Schwartzman, Leslie Stiles, Marion Van Ness, Selma Van Ness, William Van Ness, Annabel Waters, Bernard Weisberger, and Beulah Whitbeck. Marcella Beigel, the RSVP Director, devoted much time and attention to the creation of this unique and inspirational project. To learn more and explore the BLACC collection, visit blacc.hudsonarealibrary.org. To view images from the collection visit the History Room website at historyroom.hudsonarealibrary.org. To view the full archived collections including research documents and images, email email@example.com for an appointment.
“Preserving and uplifting the Black history of Hudson is an essential act,” says City of Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson. “I am both proud of and grateful for the work of the Hudson Area
Library for making such a strong, long-term investment in preserving these oral histories and making them accessible to all. The BLACC collection will be an incredible resource for generations to come.”
Tanya Jackson, filmmaker and curator of “Who We Be!”, a recent installation at Lightforms Art Center stated: “The launch of the BLACC Collection website is hugely important, as it shares an array of primary and secondary archival materials critical to understanding the lives and profound contributions of Black people to this city and nation’s fabric. While embarking on the project, “Who We Be! An Exhibition and Celebration of Black Life in Columbia County” as part of organizing Hudson’s 2022 Juneteenth Celebration, I found the Hudson Area Library to be an essential resource, and partner, for research and artifacts. More than that, to expand my knowledge of the amazing legacies of people I grew up around deepened my understanding (and healing) as a Black person, not to mention all the artifacts on people, places and facts I never heard of!”
Oral histories are important local history resources and the library is excited to share the personal, social, historic, funny, heartfelt stories from the local residents who participated in these projects. The individual stories shared in the library’s oral history collections include memories from the early 1900s of driving horse-driven carriages and walking across the ice of the Hudson River, making ice cream in an ice cream maker with ice and salt, the vegetable man taking the ferry from Athens and sleeping as his horse drives the carriage up Warren Street, life in Shantytown, home remedies, the hard work of the brickyards and local factories and cement plants and so much more. They give us a glimpse into a diversity of lived experiences in Hudson and our county from the early 1900s to the present.
These two newly-launched collections will be digitally networked with the The Community Library of Voice and Sound (CLOVS), the oral history archives of OHSS, allowing community members and researchers to search across the collections. OHSS was established in Hudson in 2012 as an immersive training program to help students from varied fields make use of oral history as an ethical interview practice in their lives and work. The CLOVS archive is comprised of 450 oral histories conducted by OHSS students in conversation with residents from Hudson and the surrounding communities, with an emphasis on “everyday life” experiences, past and present. In addition to these life histories, the CLOVS archive also features 100 ambient sounds and song recordings collected locally. To learn more and explore the CLOVS collection, visit libraryofvoiceandsound.org.
Suzanne Snider, founder and director of Oral History Summer School said: “Oral History Summer School is honored to be digitally networking our collection, CLOVS, with the Black Legacy Association of Columbia County and Hudson Area Library Oral History Project collections. The BLACC collection is an especially important resource for our community, serving to re-center Black voices in historical accounts of Hudson and to chronicle intimately the contributions of Black residents to the city of Hudson and the larger county. Networking these three collections together allows us to honor the importance of these collections’ distinct foci while building toward a broad, collective history of the area.”
The HAL OHP and BLACC collections and related programming were made possible with the generous support of an IMLS Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries grant with additional support over the past decade from the Friends of the Hudson Area Library, individual donors, the Fund for Columbia County of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, a grant from the Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative of the American Library Association in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, and with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts administered through the Community Arts Grants Program by the Greene County Council on the Arts (currently dba CREATE Council for the Arts).