cassettes of interview recordings from the Allen Thomas Oral History Collection

Laurens County Library digitizes community oral histories about the early 20th Century

Oct. 31, 2022

CONTACTS: Deborah Hakes,; Cristina Trotter, 

DUBLIN, GA – A new collection of digitized local oral histories preserves memories of Laurens County, Georgia, at the turn of the 20th century. Interviewee perspectives provide insight into both the county’s remarkable transformations between the 1890s to the 1930s, as well as the social and cultural implications for its citizens.

Subjects range from family history and genealogy to the history of Laurens County including railroads, steamboats, and banking industries, which were prominent features of the Emerald City on the Oconee River. Interviewees recount persevering through the Great Depression, Boll Weevil, and Spanish Flu, and often call on family stories from the Civil War days.

“Hearing someone share their memories of these events is so much more rewarding than reading about it in a history book,” said Library Director Beverly Brown. “This is why it is so important to have these recordings preserved for the future.”

The collection was recorded by retired clerk of court Allen Thomas, who began interviewing members of his community, many of whom lived at the Dublinaire Nursing Home, in the 1970s. He followed suggestions for elders to interview, including his and his wife’s kin, collecting a remarkable array of stories. 

“For some reason or another it’s easier for people, for historians, to spend more time studying the history of what’s passed than recognizing the need to document the history that’s going on today,” said Thomas. Even after the work he’s done in nearly 50 years of collecting these stories, he admits, “there’s so much more that could have been done.” 

The library is grateful to local historian Allen Thomas for sharing the recordings with Cristina Trotter, OCRL’s Head of Reference and the Heritage Center, to ensure its preservation for future generations.

“It has been such a pleasure to work with digitization intern, Tedi Light, and Georgia Public Library Service’s Angela Stanley on this project,” said Cristina Hernández Trotter. “We are grateful to the Georgia Public Library Service for making this digitization internship a possibility.” 

To learn more about the Allen Thomas Oral History Collection, please visit the Laurens County Library’s website at or call 478-272-5710.


To preserve and improve access to these oral histories, the Allen Thomas Oral History Collection has been described and digitized through a partnership between the Oconee Regional Library System and Georgia Public Library Service’s Archival Services & Digital Initiatives.The interviews along with profiles created for each interviewee are now accessible at the Laurens County Library. Many of the interviews are also indexed, searchable, and freely available online through the Digital Library of Georgia. The interviews mostly run around 40 minutes, though some are over an hour long.  


Ms.Tedi Light will be presenting highlights from the collection in an upcoming program, “From Riverboats to Railroads, to ‘a little city-fied’: Memories of Dublin through the Allen Thomas Oral History Collection.” The program will be held on Monday, Nov. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Laurens County Library, located at 801 Bellevue Ave, Dublin, GA 31021. Ms. Light worked throughout the summer to make the oral history collection accessible online thanks to Georgia Public Library Service’s 2022 Digitization Internship Program. Ms. Light is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Public History at the University of Georgia. 

“The collection lends a glimpse into the personal lives and family histories of people living in Laurens County in the early 20th Century and provides a first-hand account of the growth of the county during that time,” said Beverly Brown, director of the Oconee Regional Library System.


Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) empowers libraries to improve the lives of all Georgians by encouraging reading, literacy, and education through the continuing support and improvement of public libraries. GPLS is a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. This project is supported with federal Library Services and Technology Act funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through GPLS. 

The Oconee Regional Library System (OCRL) is a public library system that serves the counties of Glascock, Laurens, Johnson, Treutlen, and Washington, Georgia. The system serves a population of over 83,000 people across 2,011 square miles, headquartered in Dublin, Georgia at the Laurens County Library (LCL). The library houses books, audiovisual materials, computers, genealogical resources, and more and strives to provide the collections, reference services, and events that best serve the members of our community. OCRL participates in Georgia Library Service for the Blind & Print Disabled (GLS) and is part of the PINES and GALILEO systems.

Explore the collection:

Read former intern Tedi Light’s blog post about the digitization process: