Oral History Project under new leadership

Daniel McMullan, left, is the new head of Salisbury Association Historical Society’s Oral History Project. He and intern Robert Sellery, right, are working on a new website and new interviews.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Oral History Project under new leadership

SALISBURY — Daniel McMullan has taken over the Oral History Project (OHP) from Jean McMillen, who has been transcribing old interviews, conducting new ones and indexing the collection since 2010 for the Salisbury Association Historical Society.

The collection currently has 429 interviews of Salisbury residents, past and present, from all walks of life (including one from this reporter and another from his mother).

McMullan and intern Robert Sellery are working on a new website for the OHP, applying their knowledge of technology to make the interviews easy to search.

McMullan said that the Salisbury project is getting attention in the oral history world and has already been praised as one of the most accessible in the country.

He was particularly enthused about the scope of the interviews.

“It’s not just the selectmen or the famous people,” he said last week over coffee on the lawn outside the White Hart. “It’s everybody.”

McMullan has been sounding out historical societies in nearby towns such as Kent and Sharon, with an eye toward coordinating efforts to create a regional oral history database.

And as the work continues on organizing the materials “there is real potential to create standards for the entire country.”

The OHP needs help from residents. McMullan is actively looking for photographs, suggestions of people to interview, and people with experience in software development.

Best of all, from the point of view of someone who has transcribed a couple of the old interviews, recorded on cassette tapes, played back on antiquated equipment, and laboriously typed a couple lines at a time, advances in artificial intelligence now allow for a transcript of an interview to be produced quickly for human review.

The new OHP website, which was launched July 1, is www.thesalisburywire.com/OHP.

The existing interviews can be found on the Salisbury Association website (www.salisburyassociation.org).

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