On Sunday February 17th, Scotland AME Zion church hosted the first Scotland Oral History Day. First-year graduate students in the “Craft of Anthropology” course organized the Humanities Truck event. The Humanities Truck is a museum-on-wheels, equipped with a recording studio, exhibition walls, projectors and an interactive design. Students outfitted the iconic red and blue truck with significant artifacts and documents from and about the community. Although it was a chilly afternoon, Scotland church members and leaders offered a warm welcome and invaluable feedback on the presentation of materials in the mobile museum. Scotland church members have graciously allowed students to work alongside them in rewriting narratives about their community.
Maps, newspaper articles and artifacts were exhibited inside the truck. Alongside the materials, a documentary played on the inside screen of the Humanities Truck about neighboring church choirs and their music. The most notable documents were land deeds for the Scotland community from 1880 and 1887. Pictures of past and current congregation members, as well as members of neighboring communities were also featured inside the truck.
The event also featured an oral history training led by MAPA (MA in Public Anthropology) students Helen Bush, Katalina Khoury, and Michael Quiroz. The training consisted of basic instructions on how to conduct an oral history. Students gave tips on how to use audio and visual technology for recording interviews, and what kinds of questions to ask. Participants practiced using the equipment, and had lots of questions as they planned future interviews.
Meanwhile, inside the church sanctuary, the pews hummed with conversation. Church members discussed what they had seen inside the truck, and shared their lived experiences and memories. Mrs. Bernice M. Dove and Mr. Edgar Dove each spoke with with doctoral student Delande Justinvil, who recorded their stories about their community and the church’s history. Mrs. Dove spoke about her involvement in the Save Our Scotland campaign in the 1960s that successfully prevented the community’s displacement. Mr. Dove reminisced about his upbringing and young adult life in Scotland, amongst other things.
Ms. Deborah Young provided fellow church members with even more to talk about. Ms. Young brought two poster-board displays full of pictures from the Scotland community to complement the Humanities Truck exhibit. The colorful boards depicted different founding church families, choir groups, and lots of pictures of the Scotland Eagles Baseball team. Church elders recognized themselves and loved ones in the pictures, and were reminded of family events, baseball games, and childhood fun. Ms. Young shared her knowledge of the pictures, as well as her documentation of her father’s treasured baseball uniform and memorabilia. She generously lent her materials to PhD student Nickole Sharp and AU University Archivist and project partner Leslie Nellis (also in attendance), to scan for the Historic African River Road Connections (HARRC) Collection.
The Humanities Truck Oral History Day event was a wonderful way to share with Scotland some of the extensive work students in the Craft of Anthropology course have been conducting since last Fall in libraries, archives, and other collections to help document the proud history of the Scotland community. Thanks to the enthusiasm of Scotland AME Zion church members, student organization and the resources made possible through the Humanities Truck partnership, the event was a success.