by Debra Bass Westbrook
Everyone has a story. In saying this, we all have relatives who are no longer with us that we wish we could speak to just one more time…just one more question to ask so that the mystery of some part of your family history could be answered. Just one more story to get more information about the way life used to be. In thinking about this, it is important to capture the thoughts, the feelings, and memories of those who are around us. The veterans, the students, teachers of integration, the older neighbors and family members who know so much—these are examples of opportunities we have right before us to capture history of our families and our county.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at the Johnston County Heritage Center in Smithfield. Rob Shapard of UNC Chapel Hill who is affiliated with the Southern Oral History Progam, was the leader of the workshop. Since our president, Philip Teachey , has suggested this as a potential project for our group, I thought it would be a good opportunity to find out more about the process. I know we all know how to ask questions to our relatives, but without taping the conversation, without a signed permission, without having a set of thoughtful questions, you might waste both your own and the interviewee’s time. So I went. And it was worth my time.
Dr. Shapard was an approachable man who actually has a connection to Sampson County. When he was writing his dissertation, he actually used the Sampson’s history of pine industry long ago. He has never been involved with Sampson County in the living history project and would love to help us establish our project in the near future. So if you are interested in preserving history in Sampson and have the time, you might want to volunteer to help us in this project.
Sampson County is rich in history. People make this history and it is our duty to preserve as much of this history as we can. Hopefully we can get Dr. Shapard to come to Sampson County for a workshop in the near future. Please consider becoming a part of the living history project of Sampson County.