Elders Remember

"True Story Pictures was essential to the success of our grant, 'Elders Remember Panola County Music:  A Teen Oral History Project.' We knew what we wanted to do but we didn’t know how to do it.

Joann helped us identify the equipment, training, and budget we’d need for the project. Once we had the grant, she and her True Story team taught the teens how to conduct and record interviews and how to edit the final product.

They held our hands the whole way, and the result is a series of interviews that is of lasting value both to Panola County and to the teens and elders who participated."  

- Judy Card, Youth Services Coordinator, First Regional Library System

During the 2010-2011 school year, True Story Pictures worked with a group of middle and high school students at the Emily Jones Pointer Public Library in Como, Mississippi to train and prepare them for a series of oral history interviews with elders in their community.

Getting to work with TSP on this project has made a difference in these teens’ future story. It has broadened their experience in ways not even fully yet realized.

In February 2012, we entertained the Alan Lomax archives as they repatriated materials recorded in Como, and this summer we will be capturing oral histories for the Mississippi Truth Project – all possible because of that initial work on Elders Remember.  Thanks TSP!

- Alice Pierotti, Branch Manager, Emily Jones Pointer Public Library

Update: We returned to Como in summer 2013. Learn more about the follow-up project here.

For the Elders Remember project, students learned how to develop appropriate interview questions, and they practiced their interview skills with each other. They learned how to use a camera and tripod, how to set up lights for a professional interview, and how to place a lavalier mic and monitor sound. Afterwards, they learned the basics of editing so they could log their interviews and cut together short edits based on the different historical traditions of music they were documenting. 

Special thanks to all the teens who participated: Shaquille Conrad (team leader), Desiree Armstrong, Venisha Brunt, Melvin Harvey, Mathew Holloway, Jamil Mottley, Briana Patton, Keondres Price, James Rodgers, Jalen Taylor, Shakemia Towns, and Teariny Wheatly.

Here are the results of their hard work:

In addition to these short edits, the full versions of each interview (12 participants in all) are available on DVD at the Emily Jones Pointer Library. Special thanks to Alice Pierotti, who coordinated this project and the teen volunteers. Funding was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) via the Mississippi Library Commission. Click here to learn more about this project.