The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley is pleased to announce the addition of a new collection of oral histories. This project explores the life stories of thirteen leaders in the self-advocacy movement and their perspectives on key issues and leadership challenges.
We’d love to see your story on this website. Here’s how to do it.
1. Create a User Account for musemoftheperson.org
- Under Share Your Story on the navigation panel at the right side of the page, click Register.
- Enter a Username of your choice and your E-mail address.
- Click the blue “Register” button. A password will be e-mailed to you.
- Click on the link in the e-mail message to log in to your new account.
2. Create a “Post” of Your Story
When you log in, your Dashboard page appears. continue reading » »
The Museum of the Person Story Tent collected stories at the annual Senior Expo in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday, May 7, 2010. The Expo was held at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center this year. Stay tuned for more details about how you can share a story next year!
Update: These videotaped stories are now available for viewing on YouTube. Check out a sample below:
Part of the series “Streets of Bloomington 2009,” this is an hour-long audio documentary featuring narratives from four people in Bloomington, Indiana struggling with poverty and homelessness. Poverty in Bloomington has risen at an alarming rate, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The newest report claims poverty in Bloomington grew from 34.7 percent in 2006 to 41.6 percent in 2007, a seven percent increase in a single year. Produced by Jennifer Jameson, Chad Carrothers, and Andy Shaw in partnership with the Shalom Center and Indiana University’s Leadership, Ethics, & Social Action program.
Monroe County Fair
(Monroe County, Indiana)
Stories collected July 27, 2005
In connection with the 50th anniversary of the Monroe County Fair (at its present site), the Museum of the Person gathered memories from visitors of all ages. The “Story Tent” was erected on July 27, 2005, Senior Citizens Day. As our first Story Tent event, we learned much about the technical aspects of videorecording in public places, coping with the rain and wind, and recruiting people to talk and share stories.
WHAT I ENJOY ABOUT THE FAIR
“To me the fair is a sense of community. No matter what community you are a part of. I just think the fair just brings a sense of community. The farming aspects and from the cities and towns too. It’s just kind of a time to pull it all together.”
“You make a lot of friends at the fair. It’s a fun experience. You get to see all your friends from school you don’t see over the summer. Have fun, you’ve got the carnival and just everything.”
“I like the fair. I like almost all the food because it’s all good. I like going out to the commercial building because they have a lot of nice things that people will give away, especially rulers…Pretty much my entire family is in the fair on my dad’s side. I like coming out to the fair. It’s a fun experience and not many people can say that their family has been in the fair for so many years.”
“I expect I pretty much grew up with it. It was 4-H, exhibiting products that we made during the summer and then we went to the fair…Our products then were clothing and baking. Not too much else because I didn’t take any animals to the fair. We didn’t have anything like as many projects as the 4-H kids have available to them now.”
“My earliest memory of the fair is being in town on Saturday when the fair was held on College Street and also on Kirkwood on the south side of the square. But my dad wasn’t interested and he was doing his shopping. I was just a small youngster with him. I saw the exhibits and the animals lined up but he wouldn’t stay for any of it so I didn’t have too much fair experience in my early years. We’ve had a lot of things happen out here, we could almost write a book…I guess about the funniest thing I could think of, we had a person that had a booth for marijuana for medicinal purposes. Of course they paid the money for the booth so we couldn’t rule them out. We got a lot of complaints from the public on it being there. One fellow came into the office one night where I was working. He was just raving about it. He said, ‘I’ll go down there and tear the thing out myself.’ I told him you better not. You’ll be in trouble with the police if you do. He thought a moment, he banged his fist on the counter and he said, ‘this is a free country, they shouldn’t be here’.”
“I love the animals, especially the horses. All I wanted to do was be around the horses. I had several friends who were older and they would enter their horses. They were out in the arena and they were riding their horses. I thought that was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
“Coming to the fair like when I was four. I rode some little rides and I talked to the clown. I got my face painted and some balloons. It was really fun!”
“My most exciting time at the fair was the year that I won the purple ribbon for cookies and discovered I was going to get to take them to the state fair. That was a pretty high point there.”
“We’d enter cakes or cookies or embroidery. We use to make a lot of cookies and breads, zucchini bread. I got blue ribbons on a lot of things I did.”
“Our church started the Dragon Ears booth because they needed a fund raiser…They’d have church members volunteer…My husband and I volunteered and we came out like 6:00 in the morning because you have to keep the vat going. I remember standing over this vat all day. I thought I’ve been cooked myself…I’ll never forget that vat. It’s just a basic dough, like a pizza dough. In fact many times they would have these hunks of dough and they would have to sit and rise. Then you would start to pull it. We had some people who could twirl them just like pizza. You didn’t want them as thin as pizza but you didn’t want them too thick because if they’re too thick, then they’re too doughy. Sometimes there would be holes. They put them in and you’re dipping and moving them down, just like a production line. When it gets to the end, they just dip them out and let them drain, sugar them down with cinnamon and sugar. It just melts and becomes really crisp and the taste is really good.”
“Don’t forget the cinnamon rolls. The first time he comes out here after the food vendors have been set up he’ll bring cinnamon rolls home that night.”
“I always tell people it’s embarrassing to go to another county fair and the cinnamon roll man sees me, calls me out by my first name.We pretty much have our favorites. We like the pork chops. We like the stand that has the pork barbeque sandwich. We have another stand that has taco salad and another stand that has a good meal every so often.”
Bloomington, Indiana Events
May 12-May 17, 2008
Community Photography Project
In 2001, Bloomington, Indiana area residents photographed subjects of personal significance in the everyday lives of people with disabilities. Participating photographers were people with and without disabilities, including those who had never before used a camera and those who had many years’ experience doing photography. Participants also told their stories following completion of the project. Contact the project coordinator.
To see the stories and photographs, click on the links below.
Back to Projects page.
By Carolyn Benedict:
For my mother, my hair was always a big problem.
Every time I came near her, she whipped out a comb and tried to rearrange
my bangs. Even after I went away from college, the first thing she did
when I came home for a holiday was to sit me down and begin to brush the
hair away from my face. The real trouble was that my mother’s hair was
thick, a beautiful chestnut brown, glossy and long, with a natural wave.
She could arrange it in many ways, always attractive. My hair was baby
fine, thin and stubbornly straight. It was black and shiny, but there
was no way it could be arranged gracefully on my head-it always ended sticking
out in every direction. The Dutch bob I had worn all through my pre-teen
years was the way it would behave in a dignified manner.
When I was fifteen, it was inevitable that mother
would insist that I have a permanent. In 1935, the beauty shop business
was still in a primitive state. The instrument of torture which made curls
was a tall, floor-lamp shaped machine on wheels, with a series of electric
cables hanging form a pole. The wires ended in clamps, one of which fastened
to each strand of hair to be curled. After being shampooed, the hair was
dipped into an acrid, foul-smelling solution, wrapped in foil s trips and
clamped one at a time onto the machine. I was sure I would be electrocuted
when the machine was switched on, continue reading » »
by Doug Bauder
I was born in Bethlehem, PA, an historic community whose culture has been influenced by those who settled and named the town on Christmas Eve in 1741. Known as “Moravians,” they were descendents of those who followed the teachings of Czech reformer John Hus, one of the earliest leaders of the Protestant Reformation. While their roots date back to the 15th century, their numbers, today, are relatively small and, yet, their gentle approach to the Christian faith has had an impact on a variety of cultures and individuals up until the present time. Among the blessings which I received from my association with the Moravian Church is an understanding of religion as a matter of the heart. This, in turn, has given me the ability to approach the holy in a spirit of humility and love; to value the dignity and worth of every human being; to cherish simplicity; and to celebrate my faith and my life in song. Indeed, the gift of music has been integral in my own spiritual journey.
When I think of the ‘culture’ in which I grew up I can hardly distinguish between my family and my faith community. The two are closely intertwined. My home and my church were places where I was affirmed, challenged, corrected, nurtured and taught to care for the world and the people around me. Holidays were celebrated in both places in simple, but meaningful ways. A spirit of grace and good humor colored my days. Friends from distant places and varied cultures were always welcome in our home and often celebrated special occasions with us.
Education was valued highly by my parents and was also part of my heritage of faith. I was encouraged to ask questions, to challenge assumptions, to develop my own understanding of the divine nature. That approach led me to believe that life was a gift; that the world was full of wonders to be explored and enjoyed; that all people had within themselves the capacity for great good, as well as horrific evil. I came to understand that life, itself, is a journey and that there is a Power that can help us to find our way, if we keep our minds and our hearts open. Moments of quiet reflection alone, the reading of sacred texts, conversations with respected others, community worship – all of these things helped me to develop a personal relationship with the very Source of Life. The ability to celebrate my individuality, to understand my limitations, and to accept the fact that I am loved is what I have come to call ‘grace’ and it is that word which, most clearly, defines my own concept of God. The spirit of the historical figure named Jesus has been a unique force in my developing spirituality.
I would have to say that the most challenging experience of my life, up to this point, was coming to terms with the fact that I am gay. I did so in my early thirties, after five years of marriage, and after the birth of my two children. Major heart surgery and the death of my father would rank as significant moments in time, as well, but nothing compares in my life to the pain and confusion, the guilt and frustration, the ultimate liberation that came from acknowledging a sexual orientation that is different from the norm. It, quite literally, changed my world. And, yet, at the same time, it deepened my own faith, as I sought to utilize the variety of spiritual resources within and around me. What I had learned from growing up in the Moravian Church helped me to acknowledge and affirm my differences as a gay man; to forgive myself for mistakes I made and people I hurt in my ‘coming out’ process; and, ultimately, to find ways to help others who struggle with this unique life dynamic. This has, now, become my life’s work, coordinating an office that provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students and information on glbt issues to the campus where I work and the larger community in which I live. Over the twenty years in which I have done this kind of work, I have been privileged to know and learn from people from any number of cultures and races, and religious backgrounds. For me, all of this speaks of a Creator who values diversity.
What I would want others to know is that just as life, itself, is a journey, so, too, is the process of ‘coming out’. It is a matter of asking ultimate questions like: Who am I? Will I know love? How can I find my place in the world? In the midst of answering those questions for myself I would say that my own coming out has been a kind of ‘resurrection’ experience. After living in a closet (tomb) for a number of years, a place where darkness often reigned, I chose to come out into the light – to face my ‘demons’, as it were. I chose to learn more about who I really am and, for me, new life followed. Paraphrasing the words of another, I came to know the truth and that truth has set me free. My hope is that as others follow their own spiritual path they would know the joy that comes from such enlightenment.
Promoting respect and understanding of diverse spiritual practices and beliefs is the goal of a project for Bloomington called Stories of the Spirit. Hosted by a local group of volunteers, the project seeks to gather short personal histories and narratives from individuals of diverse backgrounds in Bloomington.
by Lillian Casillas
Growing up I was raised Mexican Catholic. It may seem strange that I add the “Mexican” part, but for those who are familiar with Latin American history may know why. The world that I grew up in is a mixture of many cultures and beliefs. The dominant being that of Spain “Catholic” and indigenous groups from what we now know as Mexico. The Spanish priests who came to the new world made great efforts to convert the indigenous communities from their way of life. Needless to say, many of the indigenous people were not easily converted. At some point the Catholic Church discovered an easier way to make those changes by merging Catholic ideology with that of the indigenous.
When I think of the “culture” in which I grew up I can hardly distinguish between my family and my faith community. The two are closely intertwined. My home and my church were places where I was affirmed, challenged, corrected, nurtured and taught to care for the world and the people around me. Holidays were celebrated in both places in simple, but meaningful ways. A spirit of grace and good humor colored my days. Friends from distant places and varied cultures were always welcome in our home and often celebrated special occasions with us.
One example is that of my favorite holiday “The Day of the Dead”. While its name may give you images related to Halloween, it is not even close. Its origin goes back to Aztec celebrations dedicated to children and the dead held at the end of July/beginning of August. It was later moved by Spanish priests so that it coincided with the Christian holiday of “All Saints Day”. This is a family event where we welcome back to our homes the souls of the dead and visit their graves (often spending the night at their site). I remember family members telling us stories about those who had died and offering them their favorite dishes, flowers or something that was very special to them. It is an interaction with both the living and the dead in a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is the human existence and knowing that we are more than ourselves and that we are not soon forgotten.
Today while I still hold to some of the beliefs and traditions of my childhood, I would not consider myself a good Catholic. Mexican, Irish or any other. I guess I am what I have been referred to as a “Salad Bar Catholic”. While it is a crude way of articulating it, it is someone who practices what they like and leaves what they don’t. For example, I don’t put value in the church’s stand on abortion, homosexuality, status of women, fear in God or letting others interpret for me my faith. I do believe that spirituality is a process guided by charity, humility, honesty, selflessness, integrity and love to name a few. I do believe there is a higher being because I have seen God in its people.
While in India, Mexico, and Morocco, I had the opportunity to see three very different religions (Hindu, Christian and Muslim) be a powerful force in people’s lives. Religions while distinctive in their ideology, values, and practices realize a similar effect. In these countries stricken with great poverty and instability, its people found strength and courage in their faith to go on. Where their beliefs and faith is the one stability filled with unconditional devotion and love. I have also seen people in this world who give without limit, who put others before them, and who model what it is truly praiseworthy.
Now, I do want to point out that I am not so naïve to ignore that while there is goodness, there are also those who twist and corrupt religions, faiths or beliefs. But at the end, I believe that every God is a true God. Every faith and belief is a true faith and belief.
Promoting respect and understanding of diverse spiritual practices and beliefs is the goal of a project for Bloomington called Stories of the Spirit. Hosted by a local group of volunteers, the project seeks to gather short personal histories and narratives from individuals of diverse backgrounds in Bloomington.Continue reading Stories of the Spirit >>