Coastal Voices is a community-led oral history project capturing the heritage of coastal North Carolina, sharing stories of people whose lives have been shaped by the maritime environment of Hatteras Island, Ocracoke, and Down East. As coastal North Carolina undergoes change, residents want to ensure that their community’s legacy of resiliency and strength is documented for future generations.
Oral history work along coastal North Carolina has gathered momentum since the National Park Service and the Southern Oral History Project collected memories of the Outer Banks in the 1970s and 1980s; the early 2000s ushered in another Park Service-funded series of Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout interviews. The NC Arts Council, NC Humanities Council, National Park Service and NOAA partnered with the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island, NC to advance efforts including training community members to interview their neighbors about maritime history; the ongoing development of a Park Service-funded oral history digital archive at the Core Sound Museum grew from these projects.
In 2012, Saltwater Connections, a regional community development initiative encompassing Hatteras Island, Ocracoke and Down East, NC, recommended that the region enhance oral history work as a way to support heritage tourism and community pride. That recommendation was based on residents’ enthusiasm for projects like Cape Hatteras School’s “Sea Chest” publication, the work of the Ocracoke Preservation Society, and the ongoing work at Core Sound Museum.
Coastal Voices project managers Barbara Garrity-Blake and Susan West launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013 that drew the financial support of 100+ individuals, businesses, and organizations to further engage community members in conducting interviews and learning digital audio editing techniques in 2014. This online exhibit, as well as an audio series for Radio Hatteras, is the result of this latest effort. Barbara and Susan also manage the Raising the Story project.
Coastal Voices is an ongoing project with new stories and other material added to the collection through support from local, regional and national partners, supporters and volunteers.