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NDSG 2015 meeting group photo

Oral Histories

In 2004, the Spencer Foundation in Chicago gave NDSG funds to start up an oral history collection to be housed in its archive at the University of North Dakota's Chester Fritz Library. Made up at this point of taped interviews with fellow conferees in the NDSG circle past and present, the collection is an ongoing effort, first of all to help us recall and honor the various pasts that unite us as a democratic community, and secondly to serve the need every democratic community has for its members to utter their stories--not so as to convey some particular messages but primarily and simply to speak and be heard. For a good 25 years now there has been a depression in the ability of American society, as our colleague, the late Lillian Weber, once so aptly put it, to help school teachers visualize possibility: We have a depression in our visualization of possibility right now and I'm saying that it's both the task and the challenge to keep alive the visions that do exist, even if you can't use them right away. By locating our members' actual experiences in a textured historical 'telling,' we are trying here to bring forward and share a ratifying sense of movement, process, and direction that Weber's remarks alluded to. The democratic argument here is that, through practices acquired over the push and pull of the last 40 years, understandings gleaned from multi-cultural and multi-generational experiences, and values that have been generated thereby -- coaxed into being, nourished, and held -- we have more to work with than is ordinarily acknowledged.