Thank you to Mike Vance and Houston Arts and Media for submitting the local project HAM Slices of History on the Tell Your Story Page. Read about (and watch!) these fantastic “slices” of Southeast Texas history that are engaging youth and inspiring people to learn about the places and stories of their community. Have a great historic preservation project in your community that you want to share? Tell Your Story today!
Project Name: HAM Slices of History
Region: Independence Trail
Submitted by: Mike Vance
Project Website: http://www.youtube.com/houstonartsandmedia
This project helps achieve the following Statewide Plan Goals
Goal 5: Learn and Experience History through Place
History is more than a recitation of names and dates. At its core, it’s the story of how people lived. These web-based videos, a minute or two in length, will whet your appetite for history by combining historic photographs, new footage, music and narration into a mini-documentary about a slice of Southeast Texas history. With each new Slice, you’ll learn more about where the area’s residents worked and how they had fun. You’ll share their triumphs and their heartbreaks. You’ll learn stories behind some of the names you see every day. Above all, these little documentaries will help you gain a greater understanding about our region’s past, whether glorious or not, in a fun and accessible format. We have forty Slices packaged in two high resolution DVDs that are available with membership or at a certain donation level. All of the HAM Slices are being utilized by area school districts, including HISD, to engage students in local history. They are available on our own YouTube channel and are nearing 100,000 combined views.
What community needs/issues did your project or program address? Local history is never promoted enough, and those in the history community all have a solid concept of what an uphill battle it can be. These short, compelling, fun videos are designed to bring new people into the history fold. They work well in the classroom and on websites. The idea is to let small stories hook new history buffs, both students and adults. They can also be used by teachers as a template for students to make their own history videos.
Who were all the partners involved? How did they contribute to the project’s success? The media professionals at Houston Arts and Media produces each HAM Slice of History, but we have had help in procuring some of the images. The largest source of images is the Houston Metropolitan Research Center’s photographic collection, and we have tapped into many other area archives. There are two other photo sources in particular who deserve mention since they have furnished images free of charge, always a huge help for a non-profit. Those are Story Sloane’s Gallery and the Woodson Research Center at Rice University. On the back end, we are partnering with area school districts to see that these Slices see use in the classrooms, and are looking for more districts to come on board, too. The Harris County Historical Commission has also posted some of these HAM Slices that specifically fit with recent markers or particular areas of county history.
How did you fund this project? Please list the types of funds involved and how you were successful in securing them (grants, donations, city/county funds, etc.). Funding for the first two volumes of the HAM Slices was provided out of a grant from Houston Endowment, Inc.. They have demonstrated a particular interest in the history of Houston and Southeast Texas.
What challenges did you encounter? How did you overcome them? The biggest challenge in this production is finding images. As one might suspect, video blows through a lot of images every minute, especially in this format where there are no talking heads. Many of the images we use come from libraries and archives where a fee is assessed, and those can add up qucikly. So funding is a concern here as well as to pay the people who do the production work. One scenario that we’ve been able to encounter a few times, and that we’d like to see more often, if finding a private collection of photos on a particular subject that is worthy of one of the slices of history. It really is gratifying to be able to present not only a little known story, but also bring previously unseen images to the public
What is the future of this project? If applicable, what are the next steps? Based on funding availability, our immediate goal is to complete anohter volume of 20 HAM Slices by the end of 2012. We’d like to continue that pace of one volume a year. Long term, we’d love to see monetary support for us doing HAM Slices for other citeies and regions in Texas. Not with the goal of creating these 20 Slice volumes as we’ve done in the Houston metro area, but targeted short videos that can be placed on local and county historical websites to promote their local stories in the same engaing manner.
Based on your experience with this project, what tips or pieces of advice can you share with the preservation community? After many years working in all aspects of media, the staff at HAM are real ambassadors of the idea that hiring professionals, especially those who have worked extensively in the history field, is well worth the money. The difference in quality will be evident in the final production. All aspects of video are important: quality of equipment, quality of software, solid expertise in using that equipment and software, good lighting, good sound, knowing how to use music, clearing rights to photo images, making sure credits are given where due and thinking about things like shelf life and video continuity. These are all things that need to be done right, and the product that you end with will be something that can promote your history message for many years.
For More Information
Project Website: http://www.youtube.com/houstonartsandmedia
Contact Name: Mike Vance
Organization: Houston Arts and Media