Louisiana Division of the Arts posts this information about the Coalition here to facilitate communication.
In the Wake of the Hurricanes: A Coalition Effort to Collect Our Stories and Rebuild Our Culture
A coalition of scholars and the public interested in documenting the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita began a landmark cooperative effort to provide a framework for comparing data collected from independently funded projects. The coalition provided basic questions and a form for collecting the same demographic information, allowing comparison of stories and other information gathered by many interviewers. The coalition did not receive funding to coordinate efforts, but many researchers have done independent initiatives.
The American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress agreed to partner with the Coalition and be a secondary repository for materials collected. Participating scholars could designate in-state repositories in their specific regions. Faculty from the following universities were involved as well as independent scholars: LSU, ULL, USM, Tulane, La. Tech, NSU, UNO, Dillard, Grambling State, Delta State, Duke, and faculty from universities across the country.
Among the information collected were evacuation narratives, stories of relocation, memories of communities and neighborhoods that flooded and the relationship between strong cultural identity and decision making in a crisis. The intent was for the information gathered to be used:
- to envision the continued viability of cultural traditions, in both the diaspora and a rebuilt south Louisiana,
- in understanding the links among cultural identity, social groups, race, class, home ownership, and decision making in a crisis,
- as a basis for carefully tracking and locating tradition bearers, and
- to inform future public policy.
Coalition members embraced the idea of training evacuees and other community scholars to interview. This project echoed the 1930s WPA projects, providing skills, training, and remuneration to those who have lost income and jobs from this disaster. In those projects hundreds of people were paid to document culture and heritage in the wake of the Great Depression. Those WPA projects have formed some of our nation's most important collections, including the WPA Slave Narratives and the WPA and FSA photography projects. This training provides many important skills, including technical, listening, and communication training.
The Coalition provided a basic data collection form to be entered into a central database; recommended research topics and questions; a collecting kit (modeled on the Veterans History Project) with appropriate permission forms, releases, instructions to allow for public deposit; K-12 hurricane resources that allow students to also collect data; and interviewing protocols to ensure that interviewers do not re-traumatize hurricane survivors. These materials continue to be available through the Yahoo discussion group ResearchIntheWake. To join, email Susan Roach.
The Coalition welcomes participation and invites you to join the discussion group. For more information, contact: Dr. Susan Roach, Louisiana Tech University, firstname.lastname@example.org, 318/257-2728.
Coalition Resources and Essays
For a history of the project, click here to see Susan Roach's article in the Louisiana Folklore Miscellany.
For an overview of this and other efforts, see Alan H. Stein and Gene B. Preuss' article, click here
For the entire issue, click here.
The following documents and forms are provided here in both MS Word and Adobe PDF formats for convenience of use and adaptation. Feel free to copy and adapt the forms as needed for post-hurricane research; however, if you are submitting your interviews as part of the coalition to be deposited ultimately with the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress, you will have to have the appropriate release forms. Please note that the MS Word files may change formatting with different printers; margins may have to be reset, etc.