Telling the Story
Library of Congress Local Legacy
In 1997, folklorist Alison Kahn and photographer Peggy Fox began working
on an oral history project to capture images and stories from long-time
residents of Oella and Ellicott City. The original project was funded
by the Maryland Historical Trust and initiated by Elaine Eff, its Director
of Cultural Conservation.
The Trust wanted to record the cultural history of those towns before
electricity, automobiles, and water and sewer service dramatically changed
daily routines. Kahn and Fox captured stories and images of life in
the mills, travel by streetcars, railroad and horse and buggies, local
merchants, family doctors, home remedies, hobos, swimming and fishing
in the river; outhouses and hand pumps.
Over the next three years, working with the Friends of the Patapsco
Valley and Heritage Greenway, they completed interviews and portraits
on a total of 55 residents in four towns along the central Patapsco
Valley: Elkridge, Ellicott City, Oella and Relay. The oral history project
was accepted as a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress as part of
its Bicentennial Collection.