So many folks have shared their proud heritage with the online Stories of Southern Oregon project at Southern Oregon University. Photos are scanned to the Southern Oregon Digital Archives soda.sou.edu at SOU’s Hannon Library and video interviews are published to YouTube. We’ve scanned family photos and videotaped short stories, shared archival supplies and advice on preserving family documents. The Stories project has been at Story Days in Eagle Point, Merlin, Grants Pass, Gold Hill, the Applegate, Cave Junction, Kerbyville, Butte Falls, Lake Creek, Takilma, Sams Valley and many other places and we continue to travel the valleys of Southern Oregon. The Stories of Southern Oregon project has been funded by a 2017 grant to Southern Oregon University from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Common Heritage program and two grants from the Oregon Heritage Commission, in 2016 and again in 2020. Thank you.
The Stories of Southern Oregon project started to collect and preserve agricultural, logging, mill and mining family histories in Jackson and Josephine Counties but quickly grew to embrace those who saw the many changes here in Southern Oregon over the decades. While the text below refers to the first agricultural and land-based projects, now the work includes the Rogue Valley Women’s Movement, Ashland in Transition, Stories from Southern Oregon University and Voces del sur de Oregon.
The stories never stop, they just keep coming.
“The first Stories project is important because it helps Southern Oregon’s largely rural communities trace, preserve, and share their rural heritage,” says Battistella, “It will document how and why population growth, economic development, and new agricultural opportunities have affected Southern Oregon’s heritage industries.” Stories, photographs, and memorabilia discovered in during heritage day events will be digitized and made available to the public thanks to the expertise of SOU librarians, and the Southern Oregon Digital Archives (SODA) at Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library. The Southern Oregon Digital Archives is a publicly available digital portal, making stories available to the world over the web.
While some of Southern Oregon’s landscape has changed dramatically over the last hundred years, there are many families who still work the land and harvest timber in the forests. In some areas though, historic family farms have yielded to housing developments, pear trees have been pulled out to plant vineyards, and timber harvests are limited. This project is designed to increase awareness of heritage agriculture, timber work life, and the many ways that Southern Oregon folks made their living on the land. This project is about the of preserving and sharing community memories, community values, and our shared heritage.
The Stories of Southern Oregon project builds on and extends the heritage preservation model developed for earlier grants awarded to SOU by the Oregon Heritage Commission, the Rogue Valley Winegrowers Association, the Erath Family Foundation, the Library Services and Technology Act through the Oregon Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.