SIS Oral History

In the second year of the twenty-first century, in a special assembly in the Cosby Auditorium, Dr Cynthia Spence, Dean of the College, introduced thirty plus students to a new course that (1) teach the fundamentals of oral history methodology, (2) would open the lens of AGE in research and writing across the disciplines, and (3) give voice and visibility to African American women elders who were at least seventy years of age and who were born and/or reared in the American South. Dr. Gloria Wade-Gayles, who would teach the course, joined Dean Spence in answering student questions about the new experience.

At the end of the assembly, more than twenty students had signed an enrollment sheet. Fifteen remained. Their research and writing across the disciplines and their interviews with African American women elders across lines of class produced Their Memories, Our Treasure: Conversations with African American Women of Wisdom, the first-ever anthology of interviews with African American women elders conducted by African American students from across the majors who were enrolled at a historically Black college for women. Similar in focus to the Black Woman Oral History Project at Radcliffe College, the SIS anthology, like the SIS course in research and writing, is a significant first because it celebrates the beauty and significance of intergenerational bonding.

They Saw the Sun First is a second first for SIS Oral History. All of the writing, research, and intergenerational celebrations published in the journal took place during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic. That the Young Scholars read texts, conducted research, interviewed elders, and wrote the prose and poetry herein published speaks to their passion for age-focused research and their love for intergenerational bonding. They identify as age scholars and age activists in the twenty-first century.