Since the founding of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program in 1967, numerous scholars have drawn on the ever-growing collection to write books, dissertations, articles, and for educational purposes. Highlighted here are just a few of the texts that have drawn heavily on SPOHP collections.
To read more about each book, just click on the title below to expand, or collapse the content and learn more!
Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida by Julian Pleasants,
Former Director of the Sam Proctor Oral History Program
(University Press of Florida, 2006)
Book available through Amazon
This lively, anecdotal history provides an intimate look at the University of Florida’s past 100 years – from the earliest days in Gainesville to milestones in campus expansion and institutional growth, including the infamous Johns Committee, Civil Rights protests and Gator athletics.
UF’s thirteen presidents provide a colorful introduction to a remarkable century’s progress. As early as 1909, Albert A. Murphree recognized the university’s growing pains and embarked on a drive to expand significantly on the campus’s two buildings. During his tenure, UF experienced the influenza pandemic and greeted the inaugural issue of the Florida Alligator. Subsequent administrations augmented the university’s strengths in new ways. John J. Tigert gave UF its first constitution. While presiding over the introduction of women into university life, J. Hillis Miller initiated the most energetic building expansion in the university’s history, while securing the addition of medical and nursing schools at UF. The building frenzy continued apace under J. Wayne Reitz, who also invested considerable effort in improving the life of the campus, adding housing for married students and co ed dorms. Reitz also maintained an active involvement in the athletic program, even venturing a stormy half time visit to an FSU locker room where he berated the coach for using stalling tactics. He demanded FSU either "go out there and play ball" or "go home right now."
Beyond the administrative history of the first 100 years, Gator Tales features interviews with nine notable individuals whose influences have extended from within UF to the broader worlds of business, law, and sports: Ray Graves, Otis Boggs, Tracey Caulkins, Steve O’ Connell, John Lombardi, Marna Brady, John Dasburg, Manny Fernandez, and Stephan Mickle. Each interview provides a window into a particular time and set of challenges in the history of UF, while reflecting the personal qualities that enabled each individual to have a substantial impact on both colleagues and the institution itself.
Catalog of Collections 2004: An Index of Fourteen Projects as of January 1, 2005
Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida
by Paul Ortiz,
Director of the Sam Proctor Oral History Program
(University of California Press, 2005)
Book available through Amazon
In this penetrating examination of African American politics and culture, Paul Ortiz throws a powerful light on the struggle of black Floridians to create the first statewide civil rights movement against Jim Crow. Concentrating on the period between the end of slavery and the election of 1920, Emancipation Betrayed vividly demonstrates that the decades leading up to the historic voter registration drive of 1919-20 were marked by intense battles during which African Americans struck for higher wages, took up arms to prevent lynching, forged independent political alliances, boycotted segregated streetcars, and created a democratic historical memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Contrary to previous claims that African Americans made few strides toward building an effective civil rights movement during this period, Ortiz documents how black Floridians formed mutual aid organizations--secret societies, women's clubs, labor unions, and churches--to bolster dignity and survival in the harsh climate of Florida, which had the highest lynching rate of any state in the union. African Americans called on these institutions to build a statewide movement to regain the right to vote after World War I. African American women played a decisive role in the campaign as they mobilized in the months leading up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. The 1920 contest culminated in the bloodiest Election Day in modern American history, when white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan violently, and with state sanction, prevented African Americans from voting. Ortiz's eloquent interpretation of the many ways that black Floridians fought to expand the meaning of freedom beyond formal equality and his broader consideration of how people resist oppression and create new social movements illuminate a strategic era of United States history and reveal how the legacy of legal segregation continues to play itself out to this day.
"Paul Ortiz's lyrical and closely argued study introduces us to unknown generations of freedom fighters for whom organizing democratically became in every sense a way of life. Ortiz changes the very ways we think of Southern history as he shows in marvelous detail how Black Floridians came together to defend themselves in the face of terror, to bury their dead, to challenge Jim Crow, to vote, and to dream."
--David R. Roediger,
Author of Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past
"Emancipation Betrayed is a remarkable piece of work, a tightly argued, meticulously researched examination of the first statewide movement by African Americans for civil rights, a movement which since has been effectively erased from our collective memory. The book poses a profound challenge to our understanding of the limits and possibilities of African American resistance in the early twentieth century. This analysis of how a politically and economically marginalized community nurtures the capacity for struggle speaks as much to our time as to 1919."
Author of I've Got the Light of Freedom
Hanging Chads: The Inside Story of the 2000 Presidential Recount in Florida
by Julian Pleasants,
Former Director of the Sam Proctor Oral History Program
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
Book available through Amazon
"Julian Pleasants has given us the definitive book on the disputed presidential election of 2000. Hanging Chads reveals how a badly flawed Florida ballot and the denial of a recount awarded the presidency to a candidate who lost by half a million votes in the popular count."
-Former U.S. Senator George McGovern
"Pleasants...offers a new take on the infamous presidential election of 2000. The majority of chapters consist of question-and-answer interviews--all but one conducted by the author--with key figures in the Sunshine State's election debacle."
"In addition to these Q & As, there's a concise introduction chronicling the events that ended with the federal Supreme Court's landmark decision, a helpful 'cast of characters' section and a compendium of court cases and legal terms that comes in handy when navigating the judicial jungle surrounding the election."
-Publishers Weekly review
Dr. Pleasants, Professor of History at the University of Florida and Director of its Oral History Program, provides the general public with an accessible, judicious, and balanced account of the controversies bedeviling the 2000 presidential election recounts in Florida. The book provides the reader with primary source materials--extensive oral interviews with key players--and an interpretative context within which to judge for himself or herself the range of actions, responses, and opinions that characterized those frantic 36 days.
Why do we need yet another book about the 2000 presidential election? We need Hanging Chads to help us make sense of the complex, overheated, messy developments of the Florida recount that took the election into overtime. This inside view derives its credibility from the expertise of its author and the quality of the oral history interviews upon which the book is based.
The organization of Hanging Chads is designed to aid the reader. In 29-page introduction conveys a detailed, chronological story of the contest that kept millions around the world glued to available media outlets. A county-by-county chart of Florida votes follows the introduction, showing 48.8% going to the Republican ticket, 48.8% going to the Democratic ticket, 1.6% to Nader, and .3% to the Reform ticket. Part I details the cast of characters, whereas Part II defines the court cases and legal terms involved. Pleasants devotes the remaining four-fifths of the book (Parts III-VII) to eleven interviews with influential participants in the contest, presented in the question-and-answer format of the oral history interview. The cross section includes two Palm Beach County Canvassing Board officials, two representatives of the media and public information, two politicians, three judges, and two attorneys. These lengthy interviews were culled from those of 43 participants in the recount. Only Al Cardenas, Chair of the Florida Republican Party, and Katherine Harris, Florida's Secretary of State, refused interviews. The often easy-going, reflective tone of the interviews, conducted during 2001 and 2002, testify to the difference that even a short lapse in time can make in perceptions of the election.
Informal as the interviews were, they produce a substantial record of what happened, why it happened, and with what consequences. Cumulative decisions taken early on in the selection of attorneys, legal and political strategy, and the interpretation of law determined the outcome. To head up their legal team, the Republicans shrewdly chose a Democratic attorney from Florida, Barry Richards, thought to be among the best constitutional practitioners. He was given free rein to organize and argue the Bush legal case. Dexter Douglass, a Florida attorney known for his colorful humor and political astuteness, shared the leadership of the Gore team with David Boies. Gore controlled the strategy with greater attention to political opinion than to legal effectiveness. Washington advisors sometimes overrode Douglass, even though he was the local expert.
In addition, all the lawyers and judges agreed that Nader votes in this close contest threw the election to Bush. Asked about Gore's role, interviewees of both parties noted that he made a series of poor decisions costing him the election. The Democrats failed to move quickly from protest, proving that the election returns were in error or marked by fraud, to contest: within ten days after the canvassing board adjourns, the challenger must show that by "reasonable probability," not "reasonable possibility," specified acts could have changed the outcome. Nor did Democrats challenge inconsistent treatment of military ballots. Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified the results, and the Florida legislature insisted upon declaring a slate of electors. The Gore camp did not successfully counter either action.
When the Florida Supreme Court voted 7-0 to condemn Harris' position, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision, charging the Florida court with making, not interpreting the law. The U.S. Supreme Court objected to the lack of any uniform standard with which to judge the intent of the voter. Its intervention put an end to the recount and the hopes of the Democrats. Pleasants concluded that though more people went to the polls to vote for Gore than Bush, we will never know who won the Florida vote (HC 26).
Given the passions of the moment and the dire claims made on both sides, a surprising picture emerges. Some participants remarked that the state reviled as Flori"duh" was no worse than several others. In fact, the lawyers, judges, and media people praised Florida's sunshine laws and the openness at all levels of its judicial system. Anyone in the world could gain access to transcripts and decisions on the Internet minutes after their public release. Moreover, both parties agree that the caliber of lawyers and argument was exceptionally high.
Public myths were dispelled: no conspiracy linked the actions of President Bush in Texas, Governor Jeb Bush in Florida, and Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Testimony to the contrary declared that Harris' office and that of Governor Jeb Bush were barely on speaking terms. Republicans accused Circuit Judge Nikki Ann Clark, an African American Democrat turned down for a promotion by Governor Bush, of being too partisan. They wanted to rescue her. Yet she ruled against Gore in Jacobs v. Seminole County. Likewise, Republicans labeled the Florida Supreme Court the "Dexter Douglass liberal Democratic court," even though that court denied Gore's positions on four separate occasions. Both sides played loose with the facts (28). Nevertheless, democratic institutions survived the heat of passions and the participants regardless of party saw the process as an affirming one. Even the besieged Theresa LePore, creator of the butterfly ballot, consider the election a "good learning experience."
A scrupulously conducted process is crucial to a work so heavily reliant on oral history interviews. Pleasants does not disappoint. He prepared by reading court cases, newspaper and magazine articles, and much of the secondary literature. His participants were chosen for "broad perspective and differing viewpoints" (288). Well-known among the influential leaders of Florida, many of whom he had previously interviewed, Pleasants engaged his subjects with easy familiarity. Before beginning he established the person's credentials and described the situations and issues being addressed. Questions were determined by the appropriate context--some straightforward, most set in a context, and others as statements to which the interviewee responded. Very occasionally, Pleasants posed an undeniably leading question. Whatever the form, a genuine dialogue of equals ensued. These interviews produced corrective information and fresh assessments.
Dr. Pleasants states his methodology in his closing acknowledgments. He used 30-40% of the entire transcript of an interview, choosing the most pertinent and intriguing parts. Editing was kept to a minimum. He did not change actual working, but used ellipses to indicated omitted material. The author's added factual information appears between brackets. Only when clarity necessitated did he "reposition" sentences (288).
To understand why Hanging Chads is a significant contribution both to traditional history and to oral history, we must examine the author and players' role in the work, the underlying ideology and patterns of meaning, and the lessons of Florida election of 2000. The interviews invest the book with an authenticity derived of shared authority. The resulting record is a product of memory buttressed with documentation from court transcripts, taped messages, Internet websites, and the corroboration of other primary players. The oral histories, with their elements of linguistic license and performance, enliven the prosaic legal documents or other records. The interviews admit us to the "emic" or inside view of developments in Florida. Actually, Pleasants functions in a dual role, both as partaker of the Florida election mysteries and as a detached scholar observing from outside.
Ronald Grele would have us look deeper for "hidden levels of discourse" (OHR 45). What do we see of gender, race, and class patterns? What are the power dynamics at work? The gender patterns are contradictory. On the one hand we have a powerful key shaper of events in the African American Circuit Court Judge, Nikki Ann Clark. On the other, Katherine Harris, the Secretary of State, is belitted by a public more concerned with the state of her makeup than her mind. An anthropologist or folklorist would be curious about the racial controversy. Leon County African Americans cried discrimination and interference with their right to vote when some were frightened by state police roadblocks or had difficulty in finding their polling stations. One wishes that Pleasants had queried Judge Nikki Ann Clark abot these claims. Dexter Douglass said they were "just seeing ghosts" (252). Both class and power dynamics were at work when Republicans dismissed the elderly or poor who failed to correctly mark their ballots as "dumb," not worthy to vote.
What ideological or theoretical questions arise from the Florida experience? The interviews highlight vital differences over political philosophy harking back to the birth of nation. Should the Constitution be interpreted narrowly or broadly? Who determines which votes count? Such questions divide Republicans from Democrats. Whereas most Republicans emphasize America as a republic, Democrats generally cherish a more populist view of our democracy. Despite the fickleness of public opinion and the superficiality of media reporting, basic democratic institutions such as the courts have proved durable--a telling civic lesson. For that very reason lawyers and judges of both parties agreed we faced no constitutional crisis. Hanging Chads stands out among contemporary accounts of the 2000 election fiasco in Florida because in the best historical tradition the book clarifies a very complex, confused state of affairs. The multi-disciplinary insights of oral history add depth to the picture. Borrowing the words of E. M. Forster, we welcome this work with "two cheers for democracy."
Citation: Pleasants, Julian M. Hanging Chads: The Inside Story of the 2000 Presidential Recount in Florida. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. 291 pp. Hardbound $35.00.
Grele, Ronald."Movement without aim: methodological and theoretical problems in oral history" in Perks, Robert and Alistair Thomson, eds. The Oral History Reader. Longdon: Routledge, 1998, 38-52.
Orange Journalism: Voices from Florida Newspapers (2003) by Julian Pleasants,
Former Director of the Sam Proctor Oral History Program
(University Press of Florida, 2004)
Book available through University of Florida Press
Newspapers in Florida are generally regarded as among the best in the country. Despite its image as a modern sun-and-fun frontier state filled with eccentrics, corrupt politicians, and feuding immigrant communities, Florida has become an economic, political, and social juggernaut that continues to have a significant impact on America. Orange Journalism presents 18 writers, editors, and publishers who have nurtured and influenced the high quality of print journalism in Florida during the last half-century.
Focusing on both the daily and the weekly press, this oral history includes candid interviews with visionaries like Al Neuharth, who founded USA Today, and prominent writers such as Carl Hiaasen and Rick Bragg. The book features conversations with sportswriters, investigative journalists, editorial cartoonists, Pulitzer prize-winning writers, and the publishers of an African American and a Spanish-language paper. It also includes interviews with publishers of large state newspapers (David Lawrence of the Miami Herald); medium-sized papers (Diane McFarlin of the Sarasota Herald Tribune); and smaller weeklies (the colorful Tommy Green of the Madison Country Carrier). It covers the state with journalists from all major newspaper chains in Florida, as well as a rapidly dwindling group of independent newspapers, primarily the St. Petersburg Times.
For students of the Fourth Estate, these lively interviews offer insights about the status of women in a traditionally male profession, the impact of new technology on newspapers, and management differences between large national conglomerates and state newspapers. The book also explores ownership issues between corporate conglomerates and family-owned and independent papers. For general readers, comments on topics like race, class, drugs, and tourism, with observations on specific issues such as civil rights in Miami and the growth of the space industry and Disney World, illuminate the important role that Florida newspapers play in politics, economics, and the environment. Personal and relevant, Orange Journalism delivers the inside scoop on a profession that serves as the eyes and ears of the public.
Edited by William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins and
with Paul Ortiz et al.
Winner of the 2002 Lillian Smith Book Award
(The New Press, 2001)
Book available through Amazon
The sequel to the award-winning Remembering Slavery, a groundbreaking book-and-CD set of interviews about the segregation-era South.
Remembering Jim Crow, the groundbreaking sequel to Remembering Slavery, is an extraordinary opportunity to read and hear the voices of black southerners who were firsthand witnesses to one of the most heartbreaking and troubling chapters in America's history. Based on interviews collected by the Behind the Veil project at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, this remarkable book-and-CD set presents for the first time the most extensive oral history ever recorded of African American life in the racially segregated South.
In vivid, compelling stories, men and women from all walks of life tell how their most ordinary activities were subjected to profound and unrelenting racial oppression—in the workplace, on street corners, and above all in the public facilities and institutions that systematically demeaned, disenfranchised, and disempowered black people, condemning them to second-class citizenship. At the same time, Remembering Jim Crow is a testament to how black southerners fought back against the system, raising children, building churches and schools, running businesses, and struggling for respect in a society that denied them the most basic rights. The result is a powerful story of survival enriched by vivid memories of individual, family, and community triumphs and tragedies.
Remembering Jim Crow is accompanied by two one-hour compact discs of the companion radio documentary produced by American RadioWorks. A transcript of the audio programs is included in the book's appendix, and the book is illustrated with fifty rare segregation-era photographs collected from African American families who participated in the oral history project. Boxed set: hardcover book with 2 one-hour compact discs; 50 black-and-white photographs.
And My Values Are Still There: Seminole Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000 2010
In a series of interviews conducted from 1969 to 1971 and again from 1998 to 1999, more than two hundred members of the Florida Seminole community described their lives for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. Some of those interviews, now showcased in this volume, shed light on how the Seminoles’ society, culture, religion, government, health care, and economy had changed during a tumultuous period in Florida’s history.
In 1970 the Seminoles lived in relative poverty, dependent on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tourist trade, cattle breeding, handicrafts, and truck farming. By 2006 they were operating six casinos, and in 2007 they purchased Hard Rock International for $965 million. Within one generation, the tribe moved from poverty and relative obscurity to entrepreneurial success and wealth.
Seminole Voices relates how economic changes have affected everyday life and values. The Seminoles’ frank opinions and fascinating stories offer a window into the world of a modern Native community as well as a useful barometer of changes affecting its members at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
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