Rare Glimpse into Local History: Student Historian Preserves Stories from The Woodlands

Historian with old documents

Rare Glimpse into Local History: Student Historian Preserves Stories from The Woodlands

In a quaint suburb just off the bustling city of Greenville, South Carolina, a student historian delves deep into the lives of residents at The Woodlands. Bryant Garrison ’25, an accounting major on the pre-health track at Furman University, has undertaken the task of collecting oral histories from the residents of the retirement community nestled near the university campus.

A Passion for History

Garrison’s fascination with the wisdom and life experiences of older individuals led him to embark on this unique project. His dedication to preserving the stories of The Woodlands residents has transformed the retirement community into a treasure trove of personal narratives that enrich the Furman community.

Having grown up near Greenville, in Six Mile, South Carolina, Garrison honed his interest in local history through volunteer work with the Greenville County Historical Society. His academic journey led him to Courtney Tollison ’99, Furman’s Distinguished University Public Historian, who recognized his potential and invited him to collaborate on a research project exploring the history of Bald Rock, a scenic overlook in northern Greenville County.

Preservation Through Oral History

The opportunity to undertake the Woodlands oral history fellowship emerged through the American History Book Club, a role perfectly suited for Garrison’s passion and skills. Working alongside Marion Strobel, the William Montgomery Burnett Professor of History, and Ezra Hall ’19, director of philanthropy and engagement at The Woodlands, Garrison meticulously compiled a list of interviewees, including notable figures such as former United Nations translator Peg van Bergen and actor Ronn Carroll.

Garrison’s commitment to documenting the stories of The Woodlands residents not only contributes to Furman University Libraries’ oral history collection but also lays the foundation for future research endeavors. From personal anecdotes to historical insights, these oral histories offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of both The Woodlands community and Furman’s own legacy.

A Legacy of Learning

Through his involvement in research projects and community engagements, Garrison has not only expanded his historical knowledge but also honed his communication skills. The depth of connections and interwoven narratives he has encountered within the context of Greenville’s history has solidified his resolve to remain in his hometown post-graduation.

As Garrison prepares to pursue a master’s degree in accountancy following an upcoming internship at a local accounting firm, his experiences as a student historian have underscored the value of building meaningful relationships within his community. His dedication to preserving local histories stands as a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring impact of shared narratives.

Celebrating Engaged Learning

Garrison will be showcasing his project at Furman Engaged, an annual campus-wide celebration of engaged learning experiences, on April 12th. The event serves as a platform to highlight the diverse and immersive learning opportunities that define the Furman Advantage, embodying the university’s commitment to fostering academic excellence and community engagement.

As Bryant Garrison ’25 continues to unravel the untold stories of The Woodlands residents, his work not only preserves the past but also paves the way for future generations to engage with, learn from, and appreciate the collective history woven into the fabric of their community.

HERE Greenville
Author: HERE Greenville

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