FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: May 30, 2001
Contact: Cheryl D. Peck
Life oral history of Don Hickman to be added to UIS archives
SPRINGFIELD - During a brief ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 6, longtime Channel 20 news anchor and Springfield personality Don Hickman will have his life oral history added to the collection at the University of Illinois at Springfield archives. The ceremony will take place at the archives office, located on the lower level of Brookens Library.
"We have many incredible life stories on tape here at the archives, and it is pleasing to know that someone so important to Springfield as Don Hickman will be a part of that collection," said UIS archivist Tom Wood.
Hickman's transcript is 93 pages long and covers more than 41/2 hours of audiotape. The timeline for the transcript begins with Hickman's birth in Tennessee on September 1, 1937, and ends when he retired from the Channel 20 news desk earlier this year.
Hickman said his own interest in oral history has grown over the years and that he's thrilled to be thought worthy of having his own story added to the UIS collection. "My oral history was recorded at a time when I was very much interested in starting an oral history program for the Lincoln Library downtown," Hickman said. "Knowing that UIS has one, I've talked with Cullom Davis and Ed Russo…and we all agreed that everyday we're losing people in our community who should be recorded."
"Everyday there are so many stories out there…World War II, you know, whatever it is, civil rights…and we're missing a great opportunity by not recording this first-hand experience and having it on tape and being able to go back and listen to them."
Hickman's oral history includes insights on many world events as well as his take on Springfield history. Subjects discussed include James Meredith enrolling at the University of Mississippi; the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon election; broadcasting the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination; Springfield's changing economy and shift in city government; and the duty of television news.
Hickman's interview grew out of a semester project by graduate history student Andy Cramer for his oral history class. Hickman's transcript is one of about 10 transcripts that are being donated to the UIS archives as a result of the class.
"History programs of recent years have geared the new generation of historians toward including all the different people that have been cast aside and left out of the history books so far," said Cramer. "However, in our rush to tell the story of the 'unknowns,' we should not forget the 'knowns,' like Don, who have led such interesting and full lives."
The ceremony will begin with a brief introduction by Cramer, followed by remarks by Hickman. Wood will speak briefly about the UIS collection before Hickman and Cramer officially release the transcript to the university.
Selected portions of the transcript will be available to members of the media at the ceremony, who will also be able to listen to selected portions, if desired, and look at the full transcript.
For more information about the ceremony, please contact Cramer at 793-2827.