MHC Class Seeks Local Oral Histories

Posted: February 6, 2007

The South Hadley Historical Society and associate professor Joshua Roth's ethnography class are teaming up to do oral histories of two South Hadley landmarks.

Associate professor Joshua Roth recently contacted society president Bob Judge about a course Roth is teaching from January through April in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology titled Doing Ethnography: Research Methods in Anthropology. Roth wanted his class to conduct an oral history project, and he offered to focus on South Hadley.

Judge and the society's oral history committee chair Ted Belsky met with Roth and agreed to work on oral histories of those who attended South Hadley High School when it was located in the present Town Hall, as it was until 1956. They hope to conduct the interviews in the Town Hall. They also want to conduct oral histories regarding memories of the College Inn that was destroyed by fire in 1985.

Belsky said that Roth will give the society the product of this project, which he said should be a valuable addition to its library.

The project will need about 40 volunteer interview subjects. Several society members have already volunteered, and members of the public are invited to volunteer by phoning Judge at 413-532-5792 or Belsky at 413-532-0863. Judge said that if there are more volunteers than needed, they will narrow the group by trying to find a mix of age, gender, and perspective, and also to take this opportunity to involve those who are not yet members of the society. "Ted Belsky and South Hadley High School did outstanding oral histories of South Hadley's World War II veterans a couple of years ago," Judge said. "I'm hoping that this project will be as successful."

Roth's students will visit the Old Firehouse Museum February 16 to begin their study of South Hadley. Roth anticipates that his students will be ready to begin the interviews in late February or early March.

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