Western Kentucky University

Sarah Milligan

Sarah Milligan

Program Administrator

Kentucky Oral History Commission

Kentucky Historical Society

Graduated: 2005

 

Where do you currently work?

I coordinate the programming aspects for the Kentucky Oral History Commission. The KOHC is the only state agency committed to statewide oral history documentation through granting programs and outreach. Although the commission has been affiliated with other organizations since its organization in 1976, it is now housed within the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky.

 

Tell me a bit about your career?

The majority of my energy goes towards educating people about the many layers of oral history documentation. I conduct workshops all over the state with college students to church groups on the basics of oral history as a discipline and in practice. I manage a granting program to help fund oral history projects related to Kentucky history and culture and also work with institutions on issues of oral history preservation and most recently digital migration. It has become very important for me to learn how to communicate to groups on many different levels to ensure that quality oral history documentation is being conducted in the state as well as providing a home for those interviews.

 

How has folklore prepared you for your career?

Studying folklore at WKU prepared me for life in numerous directions. I felt that the education provided was so well rounded that I could have used at least one tool from the courses I took towards just about any culturally related job opening that came up. My first job out of graduate school, working for the Kentucky Folklife Program, was a good test of using everything I learned during my coursework.

One of the most important tools I learned during my time at WKU, the thing that still helps me today, is the ability to work with groups on many different levels. The practical fieldwork experience that I was given at WKU, as well as courses like Cultural Conservation, Public Folklore, Folklore and Education, really made me comfortable reaching out to people on a community level and helped me frame the context of my role within that community's projects or needs.

I have to admit, I still keep my notes, books, and articles from Folk Studies courses at WKU on my work desk for reference as various calls come in. As a folklorist, you tend to become the automatic first call for a lot of strange cultural questions and it is important to at least be able to know where to direct people for further information on a topic. I have rarely had any issues that have come up in the workforce that I haven't been able to at least pull out a point-of-reference from studying folklore.

Sarah Milligan
 Last Modified 7/22/13