Cell phones aren't always welcome at the dining room table, but this holiday season, the Carroll County History Project would like residents to take advantage of family time —at the table or in the family room — and pull out their phone or recorder to interview family members about their favorite holiday memories.
Since 2008, the history project has been collecting memories from local citizens. These oral histories cover a variety of topics, and range from a few minutes in length to a few hours, with almost all done by a professional interviewer to capture the memories of everyday people in Carroll County.
A different approach is being pursued for the holiday memories.
With today's access to various recording equipment, the project wants family members to ask the questions and do the recording — then share them with the rest of the county.
"We're trying to reach that younger crowd to interview those older members of their family," said Jamie Adrian, coordinator of the Carroll County History Project. "It's different than a professional interviewer. You get that connection when… a grandson interviews his grandparent. It is something very poignant."
The request for holiday memories started after Thanksgiving, Adrian said, and several memories have already been collected.
"The biggest thing you see throughout all of them is family and traditions done for years and years," Adrian said. "People take pride in Carroll County and its past."
Though there is currently a lull in the holiday memory collection, Adrian is confident the memories will start flowing in as it gets closer to Christmas and New Year.
"We'll definitely see a lot more in early January," Adrian said. "We'll collect them throughout the end of the year and get those stragglers in."
Adrian stressed that the memories don't have to be just from life-long Carroll County residents. One of Adrian's favorite shared memories was from an immigrant from Madagascar who saw snow for the first time — and thought it was salt.
"A lot of them have spent the majority of time in Carroll County," Adrian said. "Some were born here and left and came back. Tell why you left. Many of those who are 40 or 50 moved here. Tell why. Work? Family? How did they get associated with Carroll County?"
If people have a question about how to conduct the interviews, they can ask staff at the Community Media Center, who are organizing the project. One of the services provided by the media center is helping with training and instructions on how to videotape. While there is one-on-one training, the center also offers workshops about the topics.
A do-it-yourself interview guide and instructions are available online at http://www.carrollhistory.org, and a history project workshop will be held Wednesday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m., at the center, in Westminster. Private training can also be arranged by contacting the center. To register for the workshop or for more information, call 410-386-4415, or go to http://www.carrollhistory.org.
"This is a volunteer-driven project," Adrian said of collecting the holiday memories. "The workshops are to help volunteers."
By gathering all of these holiday memoires and oral histories, the project will be a resource for researchers studying Carroll County's past. The memories also offer young relatives a glimpse of what their early relatives' lives were like.
"It is an ongoing project," Adrian said. "We want it to be a continuous archive."