CGP Community Stories presents the diverse stories of the residents of central New York State. A project of the Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY Oneonta) and the New York State Historical Association, CGP Community Stories serves the community as a dynamic tool for researchers and a record of significant changes in the rural areas of New York State. With oral histories available in digital audio format, visitors to the website can explore themes central to the lives of the people who live and work in the agricultural heartland of the state.
Central New York has its roots in farming, and residents have seen significant changes over the history of the region. The Cooperstown Graduate Program began collecting the folklife traditions of the region in the mid 1960s, resulting in a rich collection of folkways, foodways, architectural surveys and folk music recordings. For some, baseball is synonymous with Cooperstown, and many residents have stories about America’s pastime and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Interviewees have noticed changes in the village, as Cooperstown has become a popular tourist destination. And, many interviewees have stories relating to their work in healthcare, as Bassett Medical Center is a major employer of the area.
This website is an online archive of original materials housed at the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, New York. In addition to preserving material through digitization, the project assists in educating graduate students in the Master of Arts program in History Museum Studies on the resources of oral history. As a working database, CGP Community Stories is constantly being updated as new oral histories are added to the collection and as archival audio is digitized. A full catalog of the collection is available at the New York State Historical Association Library.
Beginning in the 1960s, students in the Cooperstown Graduate Program researching folk life began a tradition of collecting oral histories from residents in the central New York region. Covering experiences on subjects such as farm life, summer resorts, and holiday traditions, the collection of oral histories has progressively grown each year to the existing archive of over 1,800 recordings. Along with additional material, including transcripts and photographs, the Archive of New York State Folklife is an impressive collection documenting a rural community’s existence over forty years.
In recent years, the tradition has been revived through the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s course HMUS 520: Research and Fieldwork, where each graduate student has conducted oral history interviews with local residents, gathering stories that touch on themes of community, family, trends, travel, work, school, wartime, and recreation. In 2008, the CGP Community Stories website launched as a means for providing easier access to this rich historical resource. The archival recordings uploaded to the website provide archival quality sound recordings of the oral history interviews, along with extensive metadata to assist researchers.
If you have questions about CGP Community Stories, or would like to share your story, contact:
William S. Walker
Assistant Professor of History
Cooperstown Graduate Program
State University of New York-College at Oneonta