Nyack Record Shop Project: An African American History Breakthrough
The HSN’s new exhibit opens Saturday, September 8 at 1pm, and runs each Saturday from 1-4pm through October 6, at the DePew House, 50 Piermont Avenue, Nyack.
This exhibit, curated by Bill Batson, focuses on the Nyacks’ African American community will share images of the men and women who gave interviews, excerpts from the transcripts, and other documents and artifacts. There will be listening stations where visitors can enjoy the interviews.
The Nyack Record Shop Project, in which organizers collected oral histories from the African American community for a week, was launched on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday – January 15, 2018. The collaboration between the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center and the Historical Society of the Nyacks was inspired by the Beacon Project, a series of Carrie May Weem’s photographs taken in the Hudson Valley that were inspired by oral histories that she collected in a record shop.
The positive impact of the Nyack Record Shop project is underscored by the numbers: before this project, the Nyack Library had approximately 65 oral histories on file, and of those, only eight were of African Americans. Now there are 92 oral histories in total with 33 from the African American community. According to the 2010 census, Nyack is 23% African American. Thus, as a result of the Nyack Record Shop project, 30% of the archived oral histories are from the African American community, a rare example of social equity skewing in favor of a marginalized group.
The oral histories collected by the Nyack Record Shop Project can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/nyackrecordshopproject.
Bill Batson is an artist and writer who has documented his hometown through his weekly column, the “Nyack Sketch Log,” since 2011. The second volume of his Nyack Sketch Log will be published this November.
He serves as the Marketing Manager for the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and is the artist-in-residence at the Nyack Farmer’s Market.