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Why Oral Histories Are Important

Oral histories provide an enhanced, more accurate picture of the past through first-hand accounts. These diverse recollections are often stories that are not well-documented and offer a wide range of narratives with context into the social and civic issues of the time. Told through the lens of a “witness to history,” oral histories provide a rich accounting of the past and forge a connection to future generations.

Historic Charleston Foundation’s oral history program began not only to document memories about the founding of HCF and local preservation efforts, but also the first-hand accounts of life in Charleston in the earlier part of the 20th century. More recently, HCF’s efforts have expanded to include interviews with local residents who speak to the history and evolution of their distinctive neighborhoods over time; owners of historic houses who purchased their home through HCF’s Revolving Fund programs and Charleston craftspeople whose restoration work has contributed to Charleston’s preservation legacy.