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<v Choir>[singing] <v Mrs. Hammond>Family is a word that embodies <v Mrs. Hammond>a great deal more than just members of a group. <v Mrs. Hammond>To me, family is closeness, <v Mrs. Hammond>loving, sharing and being there when somebody <v Mrs. Hammond>needs you, family
<v Mrs. Hammond>is somebody you can lean on when you're <v Mrs. Hammond>having problems. Somebody who can call on to help you. <v Mrs. Hammond>When you're in distress or when you're ill, you wouldn't you wouldn't call calling <v Mrs. Hammond>a stranger to do that or are just a casual acquaintance. <v Mrs. Hammond>But you don't have to take somebody who's a member of your family. <v Mrs. Hammond>So I think maybe if it's a close knit group <v Mrs. Hammond>that cares a great deal about the other members of the <v Mrs. Hammond>group and there's a- as a biological <v Mrs. Hammond>family, the mother and the father and the children. <v Mrs. Hammond>But then, like this camp meeting is a family too in a way. <v Mrs. Hammond>Everybody who goes is a member of that bigger family and I think they <v Mrs. Hammond>get so that they care a great deal what happens to the other members and <v Mrs. Hammond>they share. You need to grow.
<v Preacher>We are happy you are here <v Mrs. Hammond>In addition to the material things you're hearing, the camp meeting, which is an <v Mrs. Hammond>experience that you share with them. <v Mrs. Hammond>A camp meeting a revival <v Mrs. Hammond>of sorts. But itit's a meeting that has a historical <v Mrs. Hammond>background in this community, the people go out and live in the in the <v Mrs. Hammond>tents Of course, they don't look much like Tents, they look more like Barns. <v Mrs. Hammond>But they live there for the entire week and they cook on the grounds and go home and take <v Mrs. Hammond>care of the chores and then come back and live there at night. <v Mrs. Hammond>And attend the services and it lasts for a whole week, three services a day <v Mrs. Hammond>for an entire week. <v Mrs. Hammond>They are there between services. They visit with neighbors and friends, just <v Mrs. Hammond>sit in the shade and talk. [laughing] <v Mrs. Hammond>Before
<v Mrs. Hammond>each service so that everybody will have time to round up <v Mrs. Hammond>the kids and get the muddy clothes off and get them changed <v Mrs. Hammond>30 minutes before service begins, Mr. <v Mrs. Hammond>Frank Durr flares the horn and it used to be a big old cow horn. <v Mrs. Hammond>Now he blows the thing like a trumpet. <v Mr. Frank Durr>Well, Mr. ?Law Shelton?
<v Mr. Frank Durr>he was the man who blowed the horn for when I first began to come <v Mr. Frank Durr>here. 'till long as we had camp meetings until we quit <v Mr. Frank Durr>1913. <v Mr. Frank Durr>The Dogs used to follow the wagons here when they come and stayed <v Mr. Frank Durr>and when he blowed the horn, they'd be a bunch of 'em, gathered around him and howl and <v Mr. Frank Durr>make a lot of wreck. <v Mr. Frank Durr>And it- start in 1926,I went to <v Mr. Frank Durr>blow on the horn, been blowing regular ever since. <v Mr. Frank Durr>This here, Harbor has been built since back in May 18 and <v Mr. Frank Durr>40s or 50s, according to what I've heard old people say, <v Mr. Frank Durr>when I walk under there at any time If rhere's nobody along with me in my <v Mr. Frank Durr>mind, I see a lot of people sitting under there.
<v Mr. Frank Durr>And I can still recall and remember some of the people I <v Mr. Frank Durr>heard shout, They'd get happy and shout. <v Mr. Frank Durr>[singing] <v Mr. Frank Durr>I remember it was old people when <v Mr. Frank Durr>I first remember and I can remember them and see 'em come <v Mr. Frank Durr>under, they're going out in my mind. <v Mrs. Hammond>The cabins are called tents, I think, because it's just tradition. <v Mrs. Hammond>They have enough property there that if you build a tent, you can cut trees and <v Mrs. Hammond>make your tent and for rally. <v Mrs. Hammond>If a man wanted to build a new tent, he would just set a date for it. <v Mrs. Hammond>And all the men in the community, particularly other tent holders, would come in and <v Mrs. Hammond>they work together and build a tent and they'd build it ina day.
<v Mrs. Hammond>Some people now come in campers and like set those up <v Mrs. Hammond>and leave them it live and let live in it serves the same purpose. <v Mrs. Hammond>People who haven't camped before, who decide that they are [unclear], <v Mrs. Hammond>find this family atmosphere and many of them who <v Mrs. Hammond>haven't had strong family ties in their biological family decided <v Mrs. Hammond>they liked it. And they come back year after year after year. <v Mrs. Hammond>I know we've got a couple who tent with families who started out that <v Mrs. Hammond>way. They came just as young people by themselves to share <v Mrs. Hammond>a vacant tent. And then when they married and had children of their own, they came back <v Mrs. Hammond>and decided they wanted their kids to have that kind of experience. <v Mrs. Hammond>And I think it sort of grows on. <v Mrs. Hammond>Well, a lot of people who share, you know various tents are
<v Mrs. Hammond>all relatives in one way or another to other people. <v Mrs. Hammond>And this is mainly how they hear about it [unclear] <v Mrs. Hammond>There hasn't been a new tent built I'd say in 20 years, maybe longer. <v Mrs. Hammond>It probably was called a vacation for a farm mother because it allowed her to get out of <v Mrs. Hammond>the house and up until I'd say the last <v Mrs. Hammond>10 years. Everybody who attended had a cook. <v Mrs. Hammond>It was a thing and the cooks enjoyed it as much as the is the farm wife did. <v Mrs. Hammond>And a good cook was something that you treasured <v Mrs. Hammond>in the- you hung on to year after year after year. <v Mrs. Hammond>Now, the ladies who tent do their own cooking, and it does <v Mrs. Hammond>take away part of i that vacation idea. <v Mrs. Hammond>Still, you're out.
<v Mrs. Hammond>And it's more or less like going camping. <v Mrs. Hammond>You're out of the house and you're on a dirt floor. <v Mrs. Hammond>And if you spill grease you don't have to grab the mop. <v Mrs. Hammond>And it's casual, very casual. <v Mrs. Hammond>The cooking facilities are very primitive. <v Mrs. Hammond>Twenty five years ago, everybody had woodstoves <v Mrs. Hammond>and they'd haul out loads of stove wood to be used <v Mrs. Hammond>for the camp meeting week and they'd have crates and chickens that they fattened and <v Mrs. Hammond>set aside for that. <v Mrs. Hammond>And the cook shed. <v Mrs. Hammond>The kitchen was called a cook shed, and it was set apart from the rest of the
<v Mrs. Hammond>tent, mainly to keep the heat out. <v Mrs. Hammond>I suppose. <v Mrs. Hammond>Well, the old way of doing things has always been important to the people of <v Mrs. Hammond>this community. They resist change <v Mrs. Hammond>not only in the church but in local customs and the way people do <v Mrs. Hammond>things. <v Mrs. Hammond>There was a time up until just a few years ago, everybody had <v Mrs. Hammond>an ice box and the ice truck came out from reform. <v Mrs. Hammond>Every other day and you'd buy 100 pounds of ice and put it in the old ice <v Mrs. Hammond>box and set your milk in there and it'd spoil anyway. <v Mrs. Hammond>But you made it do for a week. <v Mrs. Hammond>It was a lot of fun. <v Mrs. Hammond>You know, they just live for camp meeting, a lot of the older people do. <v Mrs. Hammond>I find that this is not so much true with the younger people
<v Mrs. Hammond>[preaching] they are more casual about it. <v Mrs. Hammond>And it could be that as time passes and the older members <v Mrs. Hammond>pass on, that this will lose some of its significance. <v Mrs. Hammond>But so far it hasn't. <v Mrs. Hammond>[preaching] The people cling to it as a theme of it is here, and it's ours and we're <v Mrs. Hammond>going to keep it, we aren't going to change <v Mrs. Hammond>it [preaching] <v Mrs. Hammond>Let's talk about Generation Gap. I don't really know what one is. <v Mrs. Hammond>I think you can talk to anybody if you put your mind to it. <v Mrs. Hammond>But I think a true generation gap would be where the parents and the children lose
<v Mrs. Hammond>contact with each other so that they have very little in common. <v Mrs. Hammond>And I find that in this particular community. <v Mrs. Hammond>People keep up with their kid. Most of them do. <v Mrs. Hammond>And what they're doing. <v Mrs. Hammond>If it's a member of the family, You hold it together in the name. <v Mrs. Hammond>This is true in rural America. <v Mrs. Hammond>I'd like to see a return to basics <v Mrs. Hammond>in American life. <v Mrs. Hammond>And by that I mean the things that <v Mrs. Hammond>we value now are not the kind of things that we valued <v Mrs. Hammond>before. <v Mrs. Hammond>I think we need to get back to where we feel that that <v Mrs. Hammond>keeping up with the kids and what they are doing. <v Mrs. Hammond>That's one of the things that America needs. <v Mrs. Hammond>The social life in this community, particularly,
<v Mrs. Hammond>is centered around the churches because there is nothing else. <v Mrs. Hammond>Once upon a time there was a school and they had, you know, PTA <v Mrs. Hammond>and plays and ball games and that sort of thing. <v Mrs. Hammond>But the school has been closed and the churches are <v Mrs. Hammond>about all that's left. <v Mrs. Hammond>If you don't go to church, you don't see your neighbors. <v Preacher>[Preaching]. <v Mrs. Hammond>They had several ladies in this community who, when the preacher <v Mrs. Hammond>would preach and exhort the congregation, they would <v Mrs. Hammond>be moved to shout. <v Mrs. Hammond>And so the young people pretty soon learned not to look at the people <v Mrs. Hammond>when they were when they were shouting, unless they want to be pulled down to the altar
<v Mrs. Hammond>too, of course. Sometimes they wanted to go and they just didn't have <v Mrs. Hammond>courage enough to step out on their own. <v Mrs. Hammond>But one particular lady, if you looked her in the eye, you could just get ready to be <v Mrs. Hammond>grabbed and carried down to the altar because she'd take you down and pray for you. <v Mrs. Hammond>When when the peak would get happy and shout and they called it getting happy. <v Mrs. Hammond>And it would make the services, sometimes it'd make <v Mrs. Hammond>you laugh a long time into the night because no minister in his right mind would stop it. <v Mrs. Hammond>When somebody with that kind of an experience, people don't shout in church like that. <v Mrs. Hammond>anymore. I haven't heard it in years and years and I'm sorry to see <v Mrs. Hammond>it pass. <v Mrs. Hammond>The services don't try nearly the audiences that they did. <v Mrs. Hammond>Fifteen or twenty years ago when I was young <v Mrs. Hammond>and my father used to bring us over here to night services, sometimes
<v Mrs. Hammond>you couldn't even get under the tabernacle and people would come <v Mrs. Hammond>long distances to the night services. <v Mrs. Hammond>Now the groups that come are very small. <v Mrs. Hammond>You don't have nearly so many people. <v Mrs. Hammond>There was not many young people in the community. <v Mrs. Hammond>Not nearly as many as they were then. <v Mrs. Hammond>Well, camp meeting has changed over the years in that it has become more <v Mrs. Hammond>like other church services. <v Mrs. Hammond>But I've heard some of the older people grumble about it. <v Mrs. Hammond>This isn't like camp meeting and they'd rather it were the same way it was <v Mrs. Hammond>years and years ago. <v Mrs. Hammond>There have been some changes, but they have come by them rather hard.
<v Mrs. Hammond>Well, we're already seeing the family unit break <v Mrs. Hammond>up. And in our society and I think in the rural areas, is where it is holding together <v Mrs. Hammond>the longest. <v Mrs. Hammond>Every family used to have one day a year when everybody <v Mrs. Hammond>came and they get together and have a reunion and have lots of good things to eat. <v Mrs. Hammond>They spend the whole day just visiting and looking at all the new babies. <v Mrs. Hammond>And speaking to all the older members of the family and and asking what had <v Mrs. Hammond>passed during the year. <v Mrs. Hammond>And you don't think much of that anymore. <v Mrs. Hammond>But as social change filters down into rural <v Mrs. Hammond>America, we'll see the same thing. I think. <v Mrs. Hammond>And the farm families will become just as
<v Mrs. Hammond>scattered and just these loosely knit as <v Mrs. Hammond>the city families have. In the long run, I suppose <v Mrs. Hammond>it will have families who will become <v Mrs. Hammond>so scattered that they lose contact. <v Mrs. Hammond>And I'm sure that it's going to have an adverse effect on family life, <v Mrs. Hammond>big family life. What I mean where children and grandchildren and everybody gets back to <v Mrs. Hammond>see the old folks. <v Mrs. Hammond>The community needs people coming in rather than people going out all the time. <v Mrs. Hammond>With the exodus <v Mrs. Hammond>of young people going into the urban areas to earn money, so many <v Mrs. Hammond>of them don't come back and so many of the of the farms here, so many of the houses, <v Mrs. Hammond>just have two people to a house.
<v Mrs. Hammond>When those people die, they will be nobody unless <v Mrs. Hammond>some of the young people decide that when they have worked out their time in the city <v Mrs. Hammond>they want to retire and come back to the old home place. <v Mrs. Hammond>In our case, we work the way long enough to earn enough that we could afford to come <v Mrs. Hammond>back. So you. It's hard to earn a living on a farm <v Mrs. Hammond>anymore. And particularly if you have to buy the farm <v Mrs. Hammond>and you have to build a house and you have to buy equipment. <v Mrs. Hammond>A farmer can hardly do that. <v Mrs. Hammond>Just farming. <v Mrs. Hammond>You have to work at something else in order to be able to afford to be a farmer. <v Mrs. Hammond>And a lot of people just don't like the effort. <v Mrs. Hammond>You may work twice as hard on the farm, but you're working because you see something you <v Mrs. Hammond>want to be there, not because somebody is leaning on you and say, you've got to do this. <v Mrs. Hammond>In fact, somebody worked hard at a job as he works on this farm.
<v Mrs. Hammond>He'd quit years ago, he really put <v Mrs. Hammond>in some long days. But he feels that it's his job and he wants <v Mrs. Hammond>to do it. And he enjoyed it thoroughly <v Mrs. Hammond>People who grew up on the farms, even though they get away from it. <v Mrs. Hammond>They always in the back of their subconscious. <v Mrs. Hammond>There is that feeling of freedom that you have that you have out here. <v Mrs. Hammond>I think that part of it is just feeling so peaceful. <v Mrs. Hammond>And not having to run at anything or rush to get to anything. <v Mrs. Hammond>You know, you can do what you want to a when you want to. <v Mrs. Hammond>And if you don't want to do anything, you just don't do anything. <v Mrs. Hammond>And that the best part of all. <v Mrs. Hammond>I don't know whether Camp meeting can be perpetuated. <v Mrs. Hammond>I think it would depend on the moral climate of this community.
<v Mrs. Hammond>And I don't really know whether we have enough people who will remain <v Mrs. Hammond>that devoted to it. Now, I'm sure that the descendants of the Durov's <v Mrs. Hammond>and the Hammond's will try to keep it <v Mrs. Hammond>to keep it going. I don't know whether they'll succeed, <v Mrs. Hammond>but maybe.
<v Aubrey Miller>Hi, I'm Aubrey Miller, Meeting at Unity Grove is more than just <v Aubrey Miller>a meeting, more than just an event that took place at a certain time. <v Aubrey Miller>It's a group of people and it's an idea, an idea that we hope will live on. <v Aubrey Miller>The film itself is available to organizations around the state of Alabama and around the <v Aubrey Miller>country from University of Alabama. <v Aubrey Miller>You can get information about the film by writing. <v Aubrey Miller>Bill Hunter. Post Office Box X at the University of Alabama. <v Aubrey Miller>We'll have with us today Bill Hunter. <v Aubrey Miller>And Mrs. Hammond. <v Aubrey Miller>Two people who were instrumental in the film Bill because he filmed it and Mrs. Hammond <v Aubrey Miller>because she did most of the narration Bill. <v Aubrey Miller>Were there any things at the camp meeting itself which drew you closer to the people <v Aubrey Miller>involved in it? <v Bill Hunter>Yes. Probably just meeting people and how friendly they were. <v Bill Hunter>How warm the community was and then being accepted by them and they <v Bill Hunter>were very open to us and our cameras and crew that worked.
<v Aubrey Miller>Well, you know, there are some limits beyond which the camera cannot go. <v Aubrey Miller>Mrs. Hammond were there are some things at the camp meeting that were not captured <v Aubrey Miller>by film that you could tell us about. <v Mrs. Hammond>Yes, quite a bit. <v Mrs. Hammond>I think that there's a great deal of closeness among people that <v Mrs. Hammond>you can't capture on film. <v Mrs. Hammond>And there's a great deal that has passed in the camp meeting <v Mrs. Hammond>that those of us who have been there for a lot of years remember and those things can't <v Mrs. Hammond>be captured on film either. <v Mrs. Hammond>And those are the things that only the people who have been there really know about <v Mrs. Hammond>as far as past camp meetings are concerned. <v Aubrey Miller>How does this one compare with some of the ones that you've witnessed in the past? <v Mrs. Hammond>Well, the crowds are smaller, as we pointed out during the filming, much smaller. <v Mrs. Hammond>It used to cover the whole hillside on night services and <v Mrs. Hammond>then the the choir and the singing is not the same. <v Mrs. Hammond>There was a quality about it a long time ago when some of the elderly people
<v Mrs. Hammond>saying, I think I'll have trouble. <v Mrs. Hammond>And this was really exciting when they would do that. <v Mrs. Hammond>And I don't think anybody does that anymore. <v Mrs. Hammond>We had one particular lady who did it, and it would it would really <v Mrs. Hammond>give you a thrill. When she'd start, you'd get goose bumps. <v Aubrey Miller>You mentioned about, the shouting part. And I think I saw Bill laugh when this was when <v Aubrey Miller>the film was on. <v Aubrey Miller>Has shouting died out? <v Mrs. Hammond>Yes, it has Yes, it has. <v Mrs. Hammond>I haven't witnessed any of that for a long, long time. <v Mrs. Hammond>Of course, I have never felt inclined toward that sort of thing. <v Mrs. Hammond>But there used to be quite a number of ladies in the community who did <v Mrs. Hammond>shout during the services and that this is something that we miss <v Mrs. Hammond>very much. I don't know. <v Mrs. Hammond>It would be something that the preacher would say, something that they would feel let <v Mrs. Hammond>down the rest of us knew about. But it was sort of like an electric feeling in the air. <v Mrs. Hammond>And when one of them would start, others would join in and <v Mrs. Hammond>they called it getting happy and they'd go down the aisle and and sort of do a little
<v Mrs. Hammond>shuffle and kick sawdust from one side to the other. <v Mrs. Hammond>And that wound up in the altar. <v Mrs. Hammond>And it was a very emotional flame. <v Aubrey Miller>I guess we've come become just a little bit too much sophisticated. <v Mrs. Hammond>I would say so, Blasé. <v Aubrey Miller>Bill did you feel in any way obtrusive when you're marching into these church <v Aubrey Miller>services with a camera? <v Bill Hunter>Yes, it's kind of out of place to be in a church service with a camera in the first <v Bill Hunter>place, you know, people sitting around and listening <v Bill Hunter>to the sermon. And you have to be a little bit pushy with the camera to get to <v Bill Hunter>get pictures, you know, people. <v Bill Hunter>But they were very warm to me and and very true. <v Bill Hunter>Very realistic to, you know, the kind of feeling we're trying <v Bill Hunter>to put across. <v Aubrey Miller>Well, you know, I imagine this took a long time. <v Aubrey Miller>The camp meeting went on for a week, but some as far as the mechanics of putting <v Aubrey Miller>the whole thing together for you, what? <v Aubrey Miller>How much time did it involve? <v Bill Hunter>Well, we went down because it can't mean this for one week
<v Bill Hunter>each year. Then we went down for two different years. <v Bill Hunter>And, you know, the same people each year were around that <v Bill Hunter>helped us. And so we were able to get a better <v Bill Hunter>picture of what was going on because we did go down for two different years. <v Bill Hunter>And I mean-. <v Aubrey Miller>To a large extent, letting the whole thing become a part of you. <v Bill Hunter>Sure. I plan to go back this year and and see my friends. <v Aubrey Miller>Mrs. Hammond. Did the people feel like they were being intruded <v Aubrey Miller>upon by Bill and Jennifer when they came out with their cameras? <v Mrs. Hammond>No, we were conscious that they were there, but everybody <v Mrs. Hammond>was cooperative. Everybody appreciated what the what they were doing. <v Mrs. Hammond>And I feel that they were very unobtrusive and <v Mrs. Hammond>they. We're doing they were trying very, very hard not to interfere, but I'm sure the <v Mrs. Hammond>minister failed. You know, you just can't. <v Mrs. Hammond>You're bound to feel that there's something different there. <v Mrs. Hammond>Something in the way that other people are noticing rather than listening closely to what
<v Mrs. Hammond>you're saying. And I think maybe he felt this more within the people in the congregation <v Mrs. Hammond>there. It must have been awfully hard for him. <v Aubrey Miller>What relationship is him and does this camp bear to the old revival? <v Mrs. Hammond>Well, it's pretty much the same thing, except this is more like the revivals <v Mrs. Hammond>of 100 years ago. It's out in the open and it's <v Mrs. Hammond>it's more informal. <v Mrs. Hammond>Church services have become very formalized, you know, by prayer ahead of time. <v Mrs. Hammond>What they gonna do, what they're gonna sing. <v Mrs. Hammond>And all of that and at, at a camp meeting. <v Mrs. Hammond>It's not that way totally. <v Mrs. Hammond>There's some of that and they're getting more of that into it. <v Mrs. Hammond>And I regret that very much. <v Mrs. Hammond>I'd like it to stay simple. <v Aubrey Miller>Is this a Southern tradition, the camp meeting? <v Mrs. Hammond>Originally, I think they had them all over the country, but I think it has it has become <v Mrs. Hammond>a southern thing now. I don't think there are too many of them in other parts of the <v Mrs. Hammond>country. Not that I'm aware of anyhow. <v Aubrey Miller>Listen, thanks to both of you. And remember that people can
Camp Meeting: Unity Grove
Producing Organization
Alabama Public Television
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Program Description
"Bill Hunter and Jennifer Toffel traveled to Unity Grove, Alabama, to document a community religious tradition which had its origins in 1842. In an effort to preserve history and close family ties, present and past citizens of Unity Grove make a pilgrimage to the historic camp meeting site for a renewal of the traditional religious revival every August for one week. "Still in evidence are many of the simple wooden and tent-like dwellings. The participants attempt to duplicate traditional clothing worn, hymns sung and food consumed. "The producers consider the program a statement of one attempt to preserve family closeness and cultural continuity throughout years of change in American social customs and values."--1977 Peabody Awards entry form. Throughout the documentary, narrator Hap Hammond discusses how the new exodus of young people migrating to urban areas has caused great change in family, church, and community structures in America.
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Executive Producer: Jordan, Mort
Narrator: Hammond, Hap
Producer: Hunter, Bill
Producer: Toffel, Jennifer
Producing Organization: Alabama Public Television
Writer: Jordan, Mort
Writer: Toffel, Jennifer
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-aad5eb725c6 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 00:22:00
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Chicago: “Camp Meeting: Unity Grove,” 1977-07-23, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
MLA: “Camp Meeting: Unity Grove.” 1977-07-23. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Camp Meeting: Unity Grove. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from