Parker Beverly (’23) recently drafted the update below for our Expanded Wake Voices Oral History Project in Special Collections & Archives. Parker has served as the Coordinator for this project through her senior year and I am pleased to report that she will continue in this role for the next two years, as she enters the MFA in Documentary Film Program in July. A special thanks to Parker, SCA’s Ashelee Gerald Hill (who also conducted some interviews), and IT’s Barry Davis who assisted with some of interview filming. I would also like to thank the faculty, offices, and students involved in the classes who also created oral history interviews to be included in this project, including African American Studies Theories & Methods: The Black Archive (Dr. Shanna Benjamin), Introduction to Historical Research (SCA’s Rebecca Petersen May and ZSR’s Kathy Shields), the LGBTQ Center, and Queer Public Histories (Dr. Carla Wilson).
Finally, this work would not be possible without the support of our interview participants and financial donors, thank you! If you would like to donate in support of more oral histories, please identify ZSR Library/Expanded Wake Voices in the online link. We are already beginning our planning for the 2023-2024 academic year, hoping to schedule interviews with Department of Engineering Faculty, Magnolia Scholars, and others. In addition, we will be implementing a new software access platform for the project, known as TheirStory. If you have ideas or suggestions for interviews, please email Tanya at firstname.lastname@example.org, Parker at email@example.com, or the main SCA email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Parker Beverly, ’23, SCA Oral History Coordinator
In Arabian Nights Tahir Shah wrote, “Stories are a communal currency of humanity.” Throughout the past year with the Expanded Wake Voices Oral History Project, I have seen this ring true. Working with oral histories is an interesting experience since every interview is a new adventure. While I may come in with a set list of questions, conversations often go down unanticipated paths, leading to new and often unexpected discoveries. This semester my job has consisted of three parts — interviewing, processing/organizing, and teaching.
This spring I have had the chance to meet and interview some incredible members of the Wake Forest community. Some of these have been fellow students like Katie Fox (’23) and Tsing Liu (a fellow senior and dear friend). We have also talked to current members of Greek organizations including Sarah Haugh (’24), President of the Panhellenic Council, and Gah’ques Ligons (’25). Other interviewees have included alumni who currently work at the University like “Triple Deac” Brian Calhoun, Maria Henson (Editor of the Wake Forest Magazine), Minta McNally (Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Family Engagement), and Emily Cockerham (Director of Reunion Programs). From different decades and backgrounds, each of these interviews has explored their experiences at the University both in the past and present. With the help of Ashlee Gerald Hill, we have conducted fourteen interviews throughout the spring semester, adding to nearly seventy interviews conducted in the previous spring and fall.
We ended the spring semester interviews with a trip to the original campus of Wake Forest. I had never been to the birthplace of the University I have called home for the past four years so this was quite a fun experience for me. Tanya and I spent the day at the original campus interviewing retiring director of the Wake Forest Historical Museum, Ed Morris. He was such a wealth of knowledge not only on the history of Wake Forest but on the day-to-day operations of a museum in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Something that stood out to me was his characterization of museums as the “front porch” of a community. I felt this was an apt description as I feel as though history and oral histories in particular, truly do create a sense of community, connecting those in the area to the history of where they live. Morris also took us on a tour of his top ten favorite artifacts in the museum’s collections. One of my favorites was the Majorette uniform of Marietta Dormire, whom I interviewed back in summer of 2022. It was so neat to see the prized possession of someone I had interviewed in person. Overall, this was a memorable trip especially so close to graduation as I was able to witness the place where the Wake Forest story began.
Throughout the semester I have also worked on organizing a collection of oral history interviews conducted by students in conjunction with the LGBTQ Center from 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2019. These included conversations with LGBTQ alumni, faculty, staff, and Winston-Salem community members. As I sifted through these interviews, I created metadata for each to make them accessible to future researchers. Additionally, I have worked directly with three classes this semester including Dr. Shanna Benjamin’s African American Studies class, Dr. Carla Wilson’s Queer Public Histories cohort and a LIB 290 class which all culminated in oral history projects. For these, I visited each class, providing students with best practices for conducting interviews, how to write effective metadata, and recommendations for interview questions. This was a great experience as I gained valuable skills for classroom work.
This has been yet another engaging semester as a part of the Expanded Wake Voices Inclusive Student Life oral history project. I look forward to what stories I will uncover in the coming semesters as I will be back at Wake for two more years to pursue my MFA in documentary filmmaking.
Interview with Ann and Ron Ashman: