“The Way I Heard It”: An Oral History of Calhoun County, Mississippi

The Introduction to this document contains this recollection from Dewitt Spencer:

The way the idea originated, as I remember it–this was over two years ago-we had, during National Library Week-this was in 1973-I was on the Board for Dixie Regional Library-and Calhoun City Library had open house as part of its activities for the week and had some older people come in and tell about the early days of Calhoun County on tape. All of them were white, of course.

 I thought this was a great idea, but why not tell it for the whole county and for all the people? At that particular time I was writing a project for E.S.A.A., for the schools, and I just included this as one of the activities. It really didn’t fit into the project, in that it wasn’t strictly academic, and they like everything to be instructional, but we put it in, talked to John Burt about it, and he thought it would be a pretty good idea, and we put it in. The committee in Atlanta liked it, and it passed.

 Now after the project was written and approved by Atlanta, I was telling Dr. David Sansing about it, and he invited me up to Ole Miss to a meeting that he was having to tell a little bit about it in the meeting, which I did. Byrle Kynard, Dr. Kynard was in attendance at the meeting, and that’s the way we got up with Ken. He recommended Ken. We interviewed Ken. At first I had thought to emphasize black history, in that I didn’t think that much had been done. Ken didn’t think it should be just black history, but all of it, which I think was a good idea. It turned out well. That’s pretty much the way we got into it.

So very much more needs to be said about The Way I Heard It, including more about the principals involved, Dewitt, Ken Nail, John Burt, David Sansing, and Byrtle Kynard, the ESAA project, not to mention the time and effort it took to create this manuscript, but that will come in the fullness of time.

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