Carpenters Creek: Keeping History Alive
December 14, 2022 | Brandy Gottlieb | firstname.lastname@example.org
Not that long ago, Carpenters Creek was characterized by a community where families enjoyed recreation and children built childhood memories. Now, local nonprofits and community organizations are joining efforts to revitalize the creek.
This past fall semester, in support of the revitalization efforts, students in Dr. Jamin Wells’ Oral and Community History uncovered the history of the creek. They conducted oral histories with community members and researched the history of the creek and surrounding communities. The interviews provide intimate details about the development of the Carpenters Creek watershed.
Wells, UWF associate professor of history, says the more than 20 hours of recorded audio has been fully transcribed and the oral histories will be deposited in the UWF Historic Trust archives in Spring 2023 and accessible to future researchers.
Nineteen undergraduate and graduate students produced the oral history project. The class was recently awarded a High Impact Practice (HIP) Course designation. HIPs are educational experiences that are designed to enhance student employability into the workforce. This initiative is one of many HIPs the University has supported toward employability.
Of the students’ work, Wells says, "The entire class worked incredibly hard to document and share this hidden slice of Pensacola's history. I'm so impressed by what they accomplished!”
To showcase their work, the class developed an Instagram exhibit, @carpenterscreekconnected, which highlights transcripts from the data collection.
Angela Kyle’s oral history is among the featured interviews. According to the Instagram account, in 1901 Kyle’s ancestors purchased 10 acres along the creek. The property was pivotal in providing Pensacola’s African American community a place of serenity during the Jim Crow Era.
Kyle is quoted as sharing the following:
“For them [the Black community members], it was a space of work and commerce during the week and then on the weekends when Jennie started bringing the church members down to be baptized, it was a sacred space. My mom went down there. …for a destination and reading and using it as a place of escape. They had a really small house so going there to the creek to be by herself and read was a big part of her childhood and it was quite solitary. Then for me… We didn't go to the creek. We played with our dolls, we climbed trees…”
Learn about this and other stories related to the Carpenters Creek oral history initiative at instagram.com/carpenterscreekconnected. To learn more about the UWF Department of History and Philosophy, visit uwf.edu/history.