Before the existence of books and scholars, history was once passed down through stories told by one generation to the next.
The Center for Community Preservation and Planning would like to return to that tradition - with a modern update.
"We want the history center to be lively and interactive. That's one of the reasons we started talking about oral history," said Cheryl Delk, Newton County special projects manager.
Thursday, noted oral history expert Dr. Cliff Kuhn will present a lecture and workshop at the Center on recording oral histories.
Kuhn, an associate professor of history at Georgia State University specializing in Southern history and a former president of the Oral History Association, said he first became interested in oral histories because it offered an avenue for people who didn't often have a voice.
"Other works look at the obvious movers and shakers," he said. "(Oral history) places in the historical record the voices of people who often aren't heard in history textbooks. "
Oral histories might show how a community faced a crisis in the past, such as a drought, he said, and can serve to connect generations. If done well, oral history projects can even transform entire communities and generate new cultural products, such as plays, books and stories.
As part of the workshop, attendees will brainstorm possible topics of importance to cover in oral histories, said Kuhn.
"It's a very exciting project - it could go in so many different directions," said Delk.
The Center is looking to do some professionally produced interviews that could be incorporated into documentaries, iPods, museum exhibits as well as possible opportunities for community members to talk with their own family or other community members.
The new digital technologies, such as mp3s and CDs have made it easier than ever to record and distribute oral histories.
"The digital revolution, it's brought the sound back into oral history," said Kuhn.
The event is free and open to the public but registration is required, said Delk. Space is still available but seating is first come first serve. To register, or for more information, call (770) 788-0484.