We learned recently that seven organizations in Berkshire County have received national grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities through Massachusetts Humanities. Well, the Berkshire County Historical Society at 'Arrowhead' the historical home of Herman Melville in Pittsfield, is putting its share to good use... to further the organization's Berkshire County Oral Histories project.

The Historical Society has been awarded an $8,750 Mass Humanities grant from the Expand Massachusetts Stories Initiative to fund the completion of the Berkshire County Oral Histories project. According to a press release, the money will be used for digitization, transcriptions, metadata entry, and permanent cataloging of the archive at the W.E.B. DuBois Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as well as presentation of the histories on a new section of the BCHS website.

Lesley Herzberg, BCHS’s Executive Director is hopeful that the money will help open doors to the voices of those not traditionally represented...

It is our hope that this project will not only preserve the oral histories currently in our archive but also open the door to the voices of those not traditionally represented in our archive... Berkshire County has a rich history of Latinx, African American, and Native contributions. This project will begin to shed more light on these stories and their importance to the Berkshires and guide future collection policies for the BCHS.

 

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The project has been dormant until recently...

According to Berkshire County Historical Society Officials, the archive began in the 1980s when there were about twenty-five oral history recordings made and collected related memorabilia gathered over time. The project however has been dormant until recently when the society reviewed the material and felt the project could be restarted and broadened "to better represent the current ethnic and demographic makeup of the Berkshires."

You can learn more about the Berkshire County Historical Society and its many programs HERE.

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