This summer, employees of the UGA Libraries and their friends and families recorded their stories for a trial run of the First Person Project, a new oral history undertaking at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.
“The project was inspired by the belief that everyone is an eyewitness to history, and that everyone, sometimes with a little encouragement, has a story to tell,” said Craig Breaden, who initiated the program as head of media and oral history in the Russell Library.
Russell staff scheduled three interviews for the premiere sessions, held in the Bob Short Oral History Studio in the Russell Library’s Willson Media and Oral History Gallery.
“Our first session was a tremendous success,” Breaden said. “Dana Miller and Skip Hulett, from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, set the bar high, with Dana interviewing Skip about Mitchell Terry Mincey, a death row inmate executed in Bibb County in October 2001. A newspaper reporter before coming to work at UGA, Skip had known Mincey since covering his murder trial in 1982. Skip’s story of their relationship until Mincey’s death illuminates an aspect of Mincey’s story that might not otherwise have been told, and also tells us a lot about Skip.”
Six sets of partners will be accepted for the next First Person Project session, scheduled for Oct. 12. Reservations may be made by calling 706-542-5788. Each session takes about one hour to complete. There is a $10 suggested donation. To help participants prepare, suggestions can be found online at www.libs.uga.edu/russell/fpp/fpp_splash.html.
The Russell Library will archive the interviews to add to its documentation of life in post-20th century Georgia and provide participants with a copy of the recorded interview.
“These interviews give us a chance to encourage more people to realize that we all make history in big and small ways, but they also have the potential to inform and enrich the exhibits we develop in the Russell Gallery,” said Jill Severn, head of access and outreach at the Russell Library. “We are political archives, and most people assume that means that we have materials that document official politics—elections, campaign speeches, legislation—but the issues that drive all politics on all levels start with regular people and their concerns. The First Person Project gives us another way to document and share the critical role that informal, grassroots concerns play in shaping our history and our politics.”