The Southern Maryland Studies Center (SMSC) at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) received $25,500 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support the center’s “Stories of Southern Maryland Oral History Transcription Project” – an effort involving the transcription of 40 oral interviews documenting the history and culture of Southern Maryland.
CSM was one of 317 recipients of NEH’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization grant that is providing more than $40 million to support essential operations at cultural institutions across the country. NEH received 2,300 eligible applications requesting more than $370 million to sustain projects through December 2020. CSM was among the 14 percent of applicants who were funded, according to the federal agency.
“Over the past few months we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs, and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede in a press release issued earlier this summer. “NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites, and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation’s cultural life and economy.”
At CSM, the $25,500 will provide continued employment for an archives assistant who has already begun the work to collect and transcribe select oral histories that give voice to minorities and speak of their lives in Southern Maryland during times of segregation, the influenza epidemic and The Great Depression in Southern Maryland.
“We are honored to receive this funding,” said SMSC Archivist Maria Leighton. “This project supports CSM’s commitment to accessibility and diversity through the creation of materials readily available to the public and at no cost, through ADA compliant online pdf files that will be used in course content, research, cultural enrichment and community inclusion. Without this funding, our work would have come to a standstill.”
So far, 11 transcripts with stories dating back to 1926 originating from Julia Hyde Posey, William Diggs, Gertrude Wright McWilliams, Lillian Parks and Julia Mudd Cox Totten – to name a few – have been completed and posted to the SMSC website. The transcripts will continue to be posted on the center’s website as they are completed.
The mission of SMSC is to store, preserve and connect individual elements, in order to give a voice to all present and past residents of Southern Maryland and create a strong base of historical evidence that reflects the events, decisions and outcomes that have shaped local history and culture. SMSC is located at CSM’s La Plata Campus and provides a central location for researching and sharing historical materials that document Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, along with the southern portions of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. Founded in 1976, the archive houses hundreds of unique collections that provide valuable insight into the economic, social and political currents that have shaped this region. The center’s work focuses on continuous collection and processing to ensure ease of access and use of the history it stores.
The center holds business records, family and individual collections that offer a wealth of photographs, compiled research notes, news clippings, maps, inventories, surveys, architectural drawings, genealogy and more.
The public is encouraged to share their historical legacies with SMSC through journals, letters, diaries, illustrations, photos, documents, short videos, audio recordings and oral histories or creative writings.
SMSC is committed to sharing the evidence of Southern Maryland’s history and culture through activities such as teaching, organizing cultural events, supporting local historical preservation efforts, and ensuring physical and digital access to its collections for students and faculty, researchers, historians, genealogists and all members of the public.
The public can follow the “Stories of Southern Maryland” project online at https://www.csmd.edu/community/southern-maryland-studies-center/transcripts/.
The National Endowment for the Humanities and the College of Southern Maryland together: Stories of Southern Maryland Oral History Transcription Project. https://www.neh.gov/
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the transcriptions, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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