History is typically thought of as textbooks, dates and lengthy speeches, but the First Person Project seeks to change this point of view.
The First Person Project, located in the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, allows everyday people to come into the facility and interview each other in pairs, usually friends or family, about their personal history and experiences with larger historical and cultural events, according to FPP’s website.
“We wanted to find a way to use oral history to document everyday people’s stories,” said Jan Levinson, an outreach archivist with the Russell Library.
FPP has collected and archived 10 interviews for a total of 342 minutes, according to an FPP webpage.
Levinson said the next upcoming day for people to record has no theme for interviews and is set for April 19 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Participation is booked on a first come, first serve basis with six sets of partners being accepted for the upcoming session.
“There hasn’t been a high volume of recordings, but the people coming in have definitely put work into what they’re going to talk about,” Levinson said.
She also said that the participants have been a diverse mixture of ages and ethnicities.
As the program grows, Levinson said, they hope to offer more flexibility on the days when people can come in and record so as to net an even larger diversification of people.
“I think history is an important thing, especially seeing it from different perspectives,” said Kendra Hansey, a first-year biochemistry and molecular biology major from Athens.
Participants interview one another for a maximum of 40 minutes, and the recordings are then archived and posted on the library’s website.
Still photographs are taken before, during and after the interview if the participants desire.
“It’s like a novel and a textbook,” said Sidney Wilder, a second-year magazines major from Dallas, Texas. “You’re drawn into the novel by the character – like you would be with this oral history.”
Wilder said she felt that many people focus only on their personal experiences or stories and that FPP would help make future generations more aware of other perspectives.
“I think there’s more value in everyday accounts rather than one author of a textbook,” Wilder said. “It brings more emotion and meaning to the people hearing or reading it.”
Participation, a digital download of the recording and photographs are free of charge for the participants, but a suggested donation is set at $10. Additional photographs or a CD of the recording are $10 each, according to FPP’s website.
Those wanting to participate can call the library at 706/542-5788 or register online at http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/fpp/fpp_register.html.