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Irish Oral History Project

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | October 25, 2018 | No Comment |

Last Spring, students in CofC’s Irish and Irish American Studies introductory course interviewed fourteen local Irish and Irish Americans. Interviewees came from three categories: folks who grew up in the South; those who migrated to the South from other parts of the U. S.; and those who came here from Ireland.

Most studies of Irish Americans focus on the big population centers, like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Few people have studied what happened to the Irish and what they did when they came to the American South. And when you think of the great libraries in the universities like Boston College, NYU, and Notre Dame, you’ll realize there’s not a whole lot of archival evidence of the Irish experience in the South. The main goal of the project is to preserve those stories–to trace the extraordinary lives of ordinary people who if not ignored have certainly been neglected.

Undergraduate students learned best practices for oral histories, and they each earned certification in human research methods before conducting the interviews. This Fall, a graduate student in English, Sarah Davis, who has a keen interest in Ireland, is preparing those transcriptions for public access through our Lowcountry Digital Archive. We are about two-thirds the way through those transcripts.

In Spring 2019, Joe Kelly will report on preliminary findings at the ACIS South conference, held on our campus.

We’ll begin a second season of interviews in March 2019.

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