To serve Samford University, the Birmingham community, and the state of Alabama by preserving our shared history and providing a platform for students, researchers and alumni to engage in the past.
Oral histories record stories that might otherwise never be told; they create unique sources for future generations and forever change the lives of participants. For example, during a recent History Internship one of our students interviewed relatives of Jimmie Lee Jackson, the civil rights protestor killed by an Alabama State Trooper in 1965. Not only was he awestruck by this encounter with living history, but he also created a new primary resource. Getting students out of the classroom and engaged with people that lived through and participated in history they’ve only read about in a book leaves a lasting impression. In an age of ever-decreasing face-to-face social interaction, oral history is a powerful tool for participants on both sides of the recorder.
Oral history work at Samford is nothing new. Since the 1970s, James Brown, Wayne Flynt, Donald Wilson, Marlene Rikard, and Jonathan Bass have led students in this field. Samford professors and students have always felt the call to document and preserve the lives of the “shirt-sleeved multitude.”
Samford University Special Collections currently houses over 250 oral histories on Samford University History, Baptist History, and Alabama History.