Monday is Greenwich Library Oral History Project Day in the Town of Greenwich

The Oral History Project is 50 and begins a year-long celebration with a proclamation by First Selectman Fred Camillo, declaring January 22, 2024, Greenwich Library Oral History Project Day.

Library Director Joe Williams, Oral History Project Co-Chairs Mary Ellen LeBien and Susanna Trudeau, Friends of Greenwich Library Chair Hilary Martin Lea. Contributed photo: Greenwich Library

Founded in 1974, when then library director Nolan Lushington gave it space at the main library and the Friends of Greenwich Library undertook its sponsorship and funding, the Oral History Project sent trained interviewers to record interviews with people who helped make, or lived through and observed, the history of Greenwich. One of its earliest interviews was with Mary Dodge Ficker, who described growing up in Old Greenwich in the 1890s.

Staffed by volunteers, the Project has recorded more than 1,250 interviews, published 142 books, monthly blogs, and pamphlets based on its collection, and trained volunteers and Town residents in the techniques of conducting and preserving oral history interviews.

An Oral History Project narrator takes a listener or transcript reader back to a place, a time, an event. You are there to “rush the growler” with Frank Nicholson during Prohibition, when as a boy he is sent to fetch beer at a secret door on Lewis Street. You are there when another boy’s best friend is swept from a wall and pinioned against a telephone pole in Willowmere during the Hurricane of 1938. You help Paul Palmer rescue his friend.

You are there after midnight with Michael O’Connor, volunteer Cos Cob firefighter and Emergency Medical Services responder, standing on Buxton Landing on June 28, 1983, looking above at a gaping hole in the Mianus River Bridge, then looking down at an eighteen-wheeler leaning against a bridge pylon. There are large floating masses. Are they bodies or something else?

You are beside Gertrude duPont Howland, smiling, while the first tree is planted on Greenwich Avenue in the 1940s after her eight-year battle against business owners, utility providers, and town permitting authorities to bring trees back to the avenue to replace the elms that had lined it for years and had died from Dutch Elm Disease.

The Oral History Project invites you to stop by the office on the first floor of Greenwich Library: Check out a book. Read a transcript. Make an appointment to listen to an interview.

Visit the OHP website,

Read the blogs and look for 50th Anniversary activities.

clam box

Here are a couple GFP stories based on Oral Histories at Greenwich Library that we highly recommend you check out and read yourself.

Anniversary of Grim Event: Collapse of Mianus River Bridge, June 28, 1983

Longing for the Clam Box on Hot Summer Nights in Greenwich