Helpful Terms


All oral histories on the site have been posted with carefully informed consent and the understanding that the teller retains rights: he or she may request that it be amended or withdrawn at any time. Many of the photos on the site are in the public domain but may be removed at the pictured individual's request. All family materials or personal photos currently on the site have been posted with the permission of the contributor. The form on the Respond page of this site asks for your consent to post comments you may type in or photos, recordings, or documents you may upload. From here, they may be digitally shared, used in whole or part for educational and advocacy purposes, or incorporated into creative content (exhibits, documentaries, student projects) that may, in turn, be posted to the site.

When you give consent, you maintain rights over your materials and content under the terms of a Creative Commons License. The Creative Commons License allows others to use, share, and build upon your materials as long as they give due credit and do not use the materials for commercial purposes. You are free to withdraw your permission at any time for any reason; we will remove material from the site upon request. You can also give us consent to post some materials, but not post others. To make a consent inquiry, please write [email protected] or call the Jackson Center at 919-960-1670.


This is what you’ll see when you open the site. You can always get back here by clicking on the back arrow on your browser’s navigational bar or by clicking From the Rock Wall at the top of whatever page you’re on. But you really don’t need to: all of the search tools and informational tabs (Welcome, People, Topics, Call & Response) are available on every page.


The oral history interviews you’ll find here are more and less formal conversations recorded and shared with the narrator’s permission. Some were developed for particular documentary projects and are very short; some are more substantial life narratives. None are complete: there’s always something more or different to say! While oral histories may start with two people talking and listening, From the Rock Wall brings them into conversation with each other—and now, with you.

To learn more about our approach to oral history see “Our Commitments” and “Why Oral History.”

Oral History

Oral history is a cultural tradition dedicated to transmitting history from one generation to the next through repeated accounts of family lineage, community values, and remarkable events. It is also a historical methodology born with the invention of the recorder: with a recorder in hand, interviewers could now capture dimensions of historical events and experiences that hadn’t been written down in letters, diaries, or reports. In the 1960s, oral history took a radical turn. With the rise of social history, it became an invaluable tool for hearing from people whose contributions to history would not otherwise be heard, who not only didn’t leave extensive written records but whose experiences and perspectives were not considered politically and socially important enough to put in books or feature in classrooms. These included women, workers, activists, people without homes, Native Americans, Black Americans, and so many others pushed to the margins of history. Oral history recognizes the authority of people often spoken over or about to tell their own histories. It shakes “top down” history with a “bottom up” approach that challenges norms guiding who and what matters. It above all makes the listener a dedicated student of tellers’ knowledge, insight, commitments, and claims. Through recording and publication—whether in books, on podcasts, in performance, or on sites like this one—oral history brings what may have been private knowledge into public reckoning and challenges us to rise to its democratic potential.

For more about the approach to oral history engaged in the production of this site, visit Why Oral History on the About page.


Every person with one or more full or partial recorded oral histories has their own page.


Some things you can do once you're here:

  • If the page shows one or more recordings, choose and click on one.
    • Read the brief biographical introduction.
    • Click on the green bar beneath the bio for “oral history details” and click "Summary" to see a summary of the interview with time stamps indicating what was said when and click "Text" to read transcribed portions of the audio recording.
    • Use the larger green audio player bar to speed up or slow down playback, adjust the volume, and download recordings.
    • Click on the Respond button to jump into the conversation and say your piece. You can do this as many times as you like.
  • Scroll down to find “more to explore.” This may include images, references, or digitized materials related to the individual.


  • This is a schedule of what was said when in an interview. It gives you a picture of the whole interview with references to the hour and minute where you can listen in to hear more about a particular subject.
  • To navigate to a moment in the recording, move the cursor to the line next to the interview “play” button. Press and hold the mouse or trackpad while moving the cursor along the line. You should see a bubble with the time in it changing as you move back and forth along the line. Find the start of the section you want to hear, release the cursor, and press play. (You may need to fiddle with this a little.) The time follows the length of the interview, starting at zero.



This is the print version of the audio recording, sometimes called a transcript. Some interviews have full text; most only partial. Some of the partial transcriptions are in a poetic style. These aim to capture the style and tone of the speaker as much as the content of what he or she has to say.


Uploading is a way of posting materials to multiple sites. When you upload to From the Rock Wall, you are sharing files (images/photos, documents, audio, videos) from your personal computer or device with the site. In other words: you are putting them "up" on FRW. You will not lose the materials from your own device or files. With your permission and ideally with your captions, we will include whatever you share on From the Rock Wall, where it will be available to all users.