Dipping Vats and Goat Roping: Voices from Small Places

Linda Reynolds, M.S., C.A.
Director, East Texas Research Center, Stephen F. Austin State University

Perky Beisel, Ph.D.
Stephen F. Austin State University

Kelley Snowden, Ph.D.
University of Texas, Tyler

Initiated in 2014, The Voices from Small Places project combines four different methodologies to document and preserve community history, each of which may be customized to meet the needs of the community and to best tell its story. These methods include: photovoice (a method including both photography and journaling in response to guiding questions), oral history, a historic resources survey, and finally, the development of a digital community collection. The Voices from Small Places approach to the documentation of community history is unique for two reasons. First, it focuses on the community rather than individuals or researchers’ goals. Second, the methods used in the Voices from Small Places approach are customizable to each participating community, giving them control over how their narrative is presented and what is available through the digital community collection. In summary, the Voices from Small Places approach ultimately returns the control of the historical and cultural narrative to participating communities, giving them the opportunity to tell their own story, unfettered by academic interpretation leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. This panel discussion will present an overview of the Voices from Small Places project, the methods used, and problems encountered in the field.