Years ago, when I was a teenager, I took a humanities class in high school. This would become my favorite class ever, even edging out third grade at Chapel on the Campus (third grade is my second favorite class because it introduced me to literary heroines Amelia Bedelia and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle).
Humanities sent us on scavenger hunts for different types of architecture, introduced us to Puritan church services while dressed as Puritans and required us to build family history scrapbooks.
In other words, it was nonstop fun. And it didn’t require math or science.
The scrapbook included pictures of family heirlooms, a family tree and oral histories. I had to sit each of my parents down and record them talking about their life pre-me.
To me, oral histories are fascinating because they give you a glimpse into a life you never experienced. Tbey also may be a genealogy tool you might not have considered since they can be a little hard to find.
Here are some oral histories from Terrebonne Parish: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~laterreb/tgs/memories.htm
I love the one by Robert “Jack” Hebert, who was born in 1899 “right here in the little town of Gibson.” He describes a tough life of living off the land and the bayou.
Here’s one of my favorite passages:
[When you grew up, did you speak French or English?]
I could not speak a word of English, until I started going to school. The four children that I reared, couldn’t speak a word of English, because my mother could not talk English and my daddy didn’t talk English. I got married and lived with my daddy and mother, all the way through, until they died. I inherited this piece, that the home was on. My brother and sister said they had a good home, and they was going to give me the old home. That is how I came to get this home. I always stayed with them. The old man couldn’t work, I figured, if I get out and pay rent, I just as well stay here and pay it to them. We always got along together. If the good Lord spares me, as long as I live, it will stay right here. I am not going anywhere.
[In the old days, did most of the people around here speak French?]
Oh yeah. Not anymore, hardly. I have only one daughter that can hold a conversation in French, the other three can’t. They forgot it all