As part of some research I’m doing for a new novel, I am in love again! or should I say, as usual. This time it is a man named Chris Rose who once worked for the Times Picayune in New Orleans. He wrote a series of columns in 2005-06 recounting the aftermath of Katrina, and published them in a book, 1 Dead in Attic. Rose is out of the “Studs” Terkel tradition who is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a radio show in Chicago. Rose is that good! One of the many Katrina stories Rose tells is about a man that started collecting magnets off the ruined refrigerators that had been hauled to the curb for pick up. Rose wrote …there is also something noble about archiving the personal details of our citizenry, particularly when those details were otherwise bound for the dump.
You ask, what does this have to do with Elijah Gaddis? He may not be collecting magnets, but he collects stories, and is a young man with a noble calling. He is from rural Cabarrus County, NC in the heart of textile country. Growing up, he heard little about the surrounding mills nor did his schooling provide any education on the matter. Yet today, his imagination and heart are captivated by the history and stories connected with the Rocky Mount Mills. He is Projects Manager for gathering your information.
Trained as an oral historian, his academic background has prepared him for the work that brings him to us through a program Capital Broadcasting has initiated at RMM. With a degree in English, a MA in Folklore and soon a PhD in American studies, both from UNC, he has worked as a public historian for the last ten years. His work connects communities to their own histories and helps them share this valuable information with broader publics. Some of you have already had the pleasure of meeting with Elijah to share your Mill memories. Here is the link to an earlier post about this story gathering.
Coming tomorrow -Part 2: What Are Oral Histories All About?
Visit: http://communityhistories.org/rmm/oralhistory/ OR contact Elijah Gaddis at email@example.com