Marion Voices

Marion Voices Oral History Project 

MCHS’s newest initiative, Marion Voices is a new community-collaborative, county-wide oral history project dedicated to documenting, amplifying and listening to stories of life, place, and work in Marion County, from the 1970s to the present.

Marion Voices is particularly interested in gathering and exhibiting stories of how everyday Marion residents from under-served communities have navigated the economic, environmental and community changes of the last four decades. The project will help connect MCHS with local history efforts across the county.

This fall, with support from a planning grant from Ohio Humanities, the Marion County Historical Society will embark on a planning process for Marion Voices. For the first phase of the project, Marion Voices will work in two communities within the county: with African- American communities in Marion about Black histories and experiences in Marion City; and with residents of Caledonia, Marion County’s easternmost village. Interviews will be focused on histories and experiences of place and work since the 1970s. The vibrant histories of our county’s Black and rural communities have not often been reflected in MCHS’s collections, exhibitions or programming. We hope Marion Voices be just the first step in telling a more comprehensive story of Marion County and its people — and in encouraging residents to listen to neighbors’ experiences, across lines of geographic, racial and ethnic difference.

To plan the project, we’ll be holding four community planning meetings this November — two focused on Black histories in Marion; and two focused on village and rural histories in Caledonia —to gather community input and build the project collaboratively with local stakeholders, community historians, and residents. At these meetings, we’ll share details for the project, learn about local history efforts already happening in the two pilot communities, and gather input about the themes, events, and approaches that would be most useful to make Marion Voices a success. We’ll use this feedback put together a major grant application to Ohio Humanities to secure seed funding to launch the project in May of 2019.

Please join us for meetings at the following times and locations:

Marion Voices: Caledonia Stories
• Friday, November 9th — 7-9pm (Village Hall, Caledonia)
• Sunday, November 11th — 2.30-4.30pm (Village Hall, Caledonia)

Marion Voices: Black Stories
• Tuesday, November 13th — 7-9pm (Heritage Hall, Marion)
• Friday, November 16th — 7-9pm (Heritage Hall, Marion)

Currently, we envision Marion Voices as a project that will work in cycles in a community: our team will gather oral histories, and, with support from Ohio Humanities, we will work collaboratively with community members and interviewees to co-curate an oral history and community archival exhibit (containing anything from family photographs to home movies to music to local artifacts), and then will work together to stage a “pop-up” exhibit at a venue of significance to the community. The exhibits will then play host to a range of oral history events — from “listening parties” to discussion panels to educational workshops.

Marion Voices aims to diversify the range of  Individuals and communities that the Marion County Historical Society serves, and to broaden our focus to the incredible and stories histories of everyday, working class and rural and communities of color within the county. We are excited to begin actively collaborating with a broader swathe of community groups spread across the county.

Marion Voices Lead Team:
• MCHS Executive Director, Brandi Wilson
• Project Director — Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios
• Community Coordinator — Johnnie Jackson, Marion & Miami University
• Project Lead Advisor — Mark Holbrook, Marion Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau
Ohio Humanities Advisory Team:
• Dr. Rick Sheffield — Kenyon College
• Dr. Howard Sacks — Kenyon College
• Brooke Bryan — Antioch College
• Suzanne Snider, MFA — Oral History Summer School // The New School
• Meghan Reed, MA — Trumbull County Historical Society
• Dr. Douglas A. Boyd — University of Kentucky’s Nunn Center for Oral History
• Dr. Nancy Groce — The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Please join us and share your voice and input as we collectively shape the Marion Voices project for the future!
For more information, to share suggestions for interviewees, themes, locations and events, or to learn more about Marion Voices, please contact the project team at marionvoicesoralhistory@gmail.com.

Official Website