The Whitewater Technical Career Center, which remains active to this day, has graduates over the past forty-five years who have remained in Connersville. Oral history interviews with graduates, local businessmen and industry owners, and community members who have lived in Connersville over the past few decades allow us to consider information that may not typically be recorded.
Interviews expand the intended audience, as individuals become active members in recreating the history, and are useful as a historical research tool. Oral history also helps us understand how individuals and communities experienced the forces and changes of history by carrying us into the historical experience at a personal level. There are also interviews with more prominent members of Connersville, such as business owners like the Riedmans, who have owned a car dealership in Connersville for nearly 90 years, or educational leaders like Bob Hoffman, the head of the vocational school in the 1970s, or Carl Hylton, the high school principal in the 1970s. Interviewees were chosen based on their position in Connersville in the 1970s and 80s, their association with the school, businesses or the community, or for their connection to the history of the city in the twentieth century. Oral history interviews are traditionally focused on the point of view and perspective of those whose voices may have been lost to history. The contrasting interview subjects attempt to provide a counter-perspective between the interviews of workers, students, and teachers and those of prominent members.
The list of interviewees began with people that I previously knew before my project. As I discussed in “Why Connersville?”, I have had connections to Connersville through my family for generations. My earliest interviewees were chosen based on their connections to my family – Pam Taylor worked with my father and grandfather at Roots, Martha Firsich is my grandmother’s best friend, and the Riedmans have sold my family our last four vehicles. Despite these deep, and sometimes complicating, connections with the people I interview, I found my insider status in Connersville to be useful in getting people to be comfortable and open with me when talking about their lives. I have found that my connection to Connersville makes me both an interested insider and an outsider at the same time. Though I have these close connections to the city, I myself have never lived in Connersville, attended school there, or worked there.
As I have continued on with my interview process, I branched out further into the community and interviewed people with whom I have little connection but who were suggested to me by other interviewees – Charlie Hughes was recommended to me by Pam Taylor, Bob Hoffman was recommended by Ron Wood, and so on. The tightness of the community, and my status as someone who cares about the community, has opened many doors to me and allowed me to reach a subset of the community that might not have been available to other people.
In addition to oral history sources, the abundant newspaper archive at the Fayette County Regional Library in Connersville provide general information on the school’s opening, student activities, and community development. The Connersville News Examiner published a daily newspaper from the 1940s until as recently as 2010, providing a record of Connersville and the national news. News Examiner advertising trends in the 1960s and 1970s show how Connersville went from placing ads in other newspapers in the Midwest for workers to having other businesses in Indiana and Illinois advertising in Connersville for skilled employees. Additionally, School Board records from the 1960s and 1970s provide background information on what the Board and community thought and did in relation to the new High School and Career Center, plans for its creation, and their responses to changes in the community in relation to the career center.
All of the images and videos on this website are presented with the consent of the owner. The interviews are presented with the consent of the interviewee and are the joint property of the researcher and interviewee.