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Wittenberg Students Participate In Enlightening Oral History Project

April 23, 2010  
 Filed in Headlines, Research

Kristi Burkitt '11 interviews Dodi Holmes at Christ Episcopal Church in Springfield.

Springfield, Ohio – It isn’t enough for Wittenberg University students to simply read history books, write papers or conduct research. Professor of History Thomas Taylor recently added an innovative oral history project to one his courses this semester, giving students the opportunity to interview members of Springfield’s Christ Episcopal Church as part of the congregation’s 175th anniversary celebration. 

“Oral history throws the student into both research and personal contact with the sources themselves. These are not old diaries, letters, or speeches, but real people talking about their own lives,” Taylor said. “The students had studied the history of Springfield and of that congregation beforehand, and they were versed in oral history principles and practices – all of that makes the interview stage look easier than it is. 

“The key ingredient, though, may be the students’ own natural empathy and willingness to form bonds with the ‘narrators.’ I’m always struck with how well these students get on with the narrators.”

Students participating included Michael Ambuske, community education student from South Vienna, Ohio; Isabelle Beegle-Levin, class of 2012 from Hollidaysburg, Pa.; Kristine Burkitt, class of 2012 from Columbus, Ohio; Katelyn Butterfield, class of 2011 from Springfield, Ohio; Kelsey Casey, class of 2011 from Upper Arlington, Ohio; David Geurts, community education student from Springfield, Ohio; Ryan Hagen, Class of 2012 from Grand Island, N.Y.; Gregory Harvey, class of 2010 from St. Paris, Ohio; Jeffrey Henning, community education student from Springfield, Ohio; Megan Utter, class of 2012 from Grand Rapids, Mi.; and Courtney Webb, class of 2011 from Washington Court House, Ohio.

“They also interviewed one 1940s/1950s Witt alum each,” Taylor said. “The Christ Episcopal project grew out of conversations with (Associate Professor of Communication) Matt Smith a year and a half ago. This semester Pastor Charlotte Collins-Reed and Chris Oldstone-Moore of their congregation met with the class to introduce them to Episcopalianism in general and to the history of this particular congregation. With their input, the class developed a master set of questions.”

With the preparation and background in place, the church then handled the selection – essentially trying to interview older members of the congregation.

According to the Christ Episcopal Church website, the founding members adopted a formal resolution and took the name of All Souls Church on Dec. 7, 1843. The Parish of All Souls was incorporated by a special act of the Legislature of Ohio, March 14, 1836. On Christmas Day 1841, the charter was amended and the name of the Parish of All Souls was changed to Christ Church.

Written By: Phyllis Eberts
Photo submitted

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