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Wheeling Spoken History Project: Origins

The spoken history project was originally conceived by the National Park Service as a step in Wheeling's effort to become a National Heritage Area. The thinking was that, in assessing the Citys resources, it would be important to begin a process of gathering the history that can only be found in the spoken words of those who lived it, or in stories that have come down through families. If Wheeling is to reap the rewards of National Heritage Area designation, with the hope of attracting tourists to its cultural treasures, it needs to assess and explore its wealth of ethnicity, neighborhoods, and industry. Wheeling needs to get excited about its heritage. With this in mind, the Cultural Heritage Survey was begun on April 27, 1994.

By January 1996, the Survey had been completed and the results were a mass of paper and tapes. The Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation realized that as wonderful as these resources were, they were very difficult to make available in this format. And so a partnership with the Ohio County Public Library was formed. The transcripts of the interviews have been stored in a computer database, after being carefully indexed by content. It is this mingling of stories from the past with the technology of the future that make this project the first of its kind, and we are proud to present to the citizens of this great city, the Wheeling Area Historic Database.

We would at this time like to thank the individuals who have been elemental in the different aspects of this project. First, Charles Flynn, Peter Samuel, and the board of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation for conceptualizing and financing the spoken history project. They hired Dr. Michael and Carrie Kline, the ethnographers who with a team of volunteers performed the interviews and compiled the data. The idea of using the computer database, the organization of the material, indexing of transcripts and the creation of this resource was by David and Ann Nelson.

[Originated April 16, 1996]

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