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Storytellers preserving rich history of Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood

A project is underway to record the rich history of the Oakwood neighborhood in Raleigh. Residents say the stories are worth preserving for posterity.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wind chimes ring in the breeze in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood, on the east side of downtown.

Barbara Wishy and her partner, Peter Rumsey, have lived here for decades. She says each big, beautiful old house has a story.

“It is important to remember the history – the good and the bad,” said Wishy, who is part of a special effort underway to record the history of Oakwood and preserve it for future generations.

The Oakwood Project is led by Liisa Ogburn, who lives in neighborhood and works for Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies.

“Several neighbors came to me because several of our longtime neighbors were passing away and they really regretted not getting those stories,” she said.

Volunteers interview residents, record their stories and post them on the Web. It's a community-wide project. Students at Exploris Middle School have even helped edit some of the interviews.

Forty interviews are online, including two recorded with longtime residents who have since died.

“We're saving the story of what life was like in this neighborhood,” said resident Matthew Brown, a project volunteer.

He said Oakwood is a special place worthy of noting for posterity.

“It's our obligation and it's our privilege to do that for the greater community,” he said.



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