Faculty: Dr. Ethan Birney, Dr. Cole Cheek, Dr. Kirk Hansen
By Radhika Vaid
SMC Faculty, Students Gather, Preserve Veterans’ Stories
A group of SMC faculty and students have started a project to collect, preserve, and share the stories of the Upstate’s veterans. The project was inspired by one professor’s inspiration to preserve his father’s story.
“When my veteran father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it became important to me to learn and record his story from his time in the service,” said Dr. Cole Cheek, professor of history and anthropology. He said telling his father’s story then easily expanded into the stories of other veterans in the area.
The Hub City Veterans Project was born and aims to collect and preserve the oral histories of veterans associated with Spartanburg County for the publication of a book. Dr. Cheek partnered with Dr. Kirk Hansen and Dr. Ethan Birney, fellow history professors, to expand the project. The group decided it would be a great research project for students as well.
The professors now conduct interviews and train students to conduct interviews as well. For students, the project teaches organizational, planning, and communication skills. Students are also responsible for transcribing the conversations.
Drs. Birney, Cheek, and Hansen choose students who are passionate about history and have a desire to work with the community. Once selected, the students are trained in style of recording transcriptions, using digital recorders, and conducting productive interviews.
The professors said they enjoy the project both for the preservation of the history of our veterans as well as the value it provides to students in learning proper research techniques. Drs. Birney, Cheek, and Hansen hope to honor the vets in Spartanburg County by writing this book and hope to achieve more history club trips for students.