Last school year a group of six highly-motivated City Springs students learned how to record and edit oral histories as part the East Baltimore Historical Library's
“Is Anybody Listening” East Baltimore Archiving Project.
The project, which was funded by a generous grant from the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute's Small Grants Program, focused on documenting the oral histories of Perkins Homes residents as they prepare for the redevelopment of Perkins Homes.
Project partners included the East Baltimore Historical Library, Baltimore Curriculum Project, City Springs Elementary/Middle School, and Dr. Graham Mooney, an Associate Professor in the Institute of the History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University.
Students learned how to formulate professional interview questions, conduct interviews, operate audio and video recording equipment; and edit video during an after school oral history club at City Springs. By the end of the program, the students were collaborating and teaching one other how to edit video.
The program included an orientation luncheon for students and families at the Marriott Baltimore at The Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. At the end of the school year over 40 students and family members took a field trip to Rehoboth Beach to celebrate the program's success.
Many of the Perkins Homes residents who were interviewed reminisced about growing up in a strong community where neighbors looked out for one another and enjoyed community celebrations.
Lucille Ball, who noted that she is not the famous comedian, has lived in Perkins for almost 60 years. She raised her children and grandchildren in Perkins and was one of the first children to attend City Springs Elementary.
"I can remember at night we used to sleep out on the step and it was just nice," said Ms. Ball. "I remember the days when we partied ... How people used to get together and say we're doing a cookout. Everybody brought something and pitched in and it turned into a regular old block party because everybody pitched in," said Ms. Ball.
Denise Street, a 47-year resident of Perkins Homes said: "It was more family-oriented back then. Everybody stuck together. You had meals together. Everything together. Everybody helped each other out ... It was beautiful. Me and Miss Theresa, my next-door neighbor, sweet as gold, God bless her soul, came down here, had a white picket fence, and you had flowers … and everybody would get together and we actually could sleep outside with our front doors open. It was warm. Families helped families."
Sharone Henderson, a Paraeducator at City Springs Elementary/Middle and a 30-year resident of Perkins Homes said: "We would use to have a lot of blackouts over there and we would always come outside at night and throw the grills out and everything. You could leave the doors open without anybody coming in and taking stuff. And when we’d have a cookout or something like that everybody was fed cause everybody was out. It was nice. We had so much fun. We would have dances over at the center for the kids. We would just have a ball."
BCP would like to thank the following people for facilitating this program: Nia Redmond, Dr. Graham Mooney, Victoria Cox, Larry Schugam, Catherine Benton-Jones, Barbara Bates-Hopkins, Rachael London, and Sarah Wallace. Special thanks to the Urban Health Institute for funding the project; City Springs Elementary/Middle for hosting the Oral History Club; and Urban Strategies for recruiting residents for the interviews and hosting the interviews.
About the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute's Small Grants Program
The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute Small Grants Program stimulates and advances community-university collaborations around research and program development. Grants are awarded to partnerships between a student or faculty member at Johns Hopkins and a Baltimore-based community organization or agency that most successfully demonstrate the potential for advancing the health and well-being of the residents of Baltimore. For more information visit:
About the East Baltimore Historical Library (EBHL)
EBHL is a community space that preserves and shares the rich history of a community that continues to rise and yield strong families and prominent individuals who have impacted the city, state, and nation. The EBHL collects memories and makes them accessible to current and future generations, and collaborates with local libraries, youth, community and arts organizations, creative artists, historians and educators to archive and continually reconstruct the history and culture of the community. The EBHL facilitates education by helping young people explore how information, art, social movement, and political issues flow throughout and within their neighborhoods and the world.
For more information contact Nia Redmond at 410-327-7224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.