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Community invited to share stories for oral history project

EDGARD — The German Coast Preservation Guild invites all community members to come out to St. John the Baptist Parish libraries and share their accounts of life in the River Parishes.

Question and answer sessions will be recorded and potentially used in future publications and exhibits, according to coordinator Courtni Waguespack.

Recording sessions will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Edgard Library and from 2 to 5 p.m. July 23 at the LaPlace Library.

“For this particular project, we are looking for a general idea of what it was and is like living in the River Parishes,” Waguespack said. “We want to know what living in the River Parishes means to the participant. It doesn’t matter what age, race, religion, political affiliation, or how long the person has lived here. Whoever wants to share is welcomed.”

Established in 2018, the German Coast Preservation Guild seeks to identify and protect historic structures and landmarks while educating others on the importance of local history.

Oral history accounts lay the foundation for future, more topic-specific projects, according to Waguespack. She said the recordings are beneficial to the community because they leave a legacy for future generations of residents.

“People grow up. People move away,” Waguespack said. “New people move in. These stories connect the then to the now. For communities that are struggling to survive, these stories can help the residents understand the causes and possibly lead them to a resolution. These stories also show the progress that has been made.”

The German Coast Preservation Guild has started recording oral histories formally and informally.

Thus far, Waguespack has enjoyed learning about the Italian-American influence in Garyville, the history of the Baloney family business as a mortuary and ambulance service and first-hand accounts of segregated businesses and schools.

Oral history interviews will follow a standard set of questions. The participant will have an opportunity to schedule a future, more in-depth recording.

Reservations are not required for the upcoming Edgard and LaPlace oral history recordings. However, sign-up is available on the German Coast Preservation Guild Facebook page.

Up to three participants can be interviewed at a time.