Gainesville, FL–This fall, students and staff from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) will return to the Middle Peninsula of Virginia, continuing the Fieldwork in Folklore research trip into its second year and building interviews for the Tidewater Main Street Project.

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Documenting the Ethnic Studies Struggle through Oral History Field Work Trip: A Collaboration between Prescott College and the University of Florida

February 26, 2015, Throughout February 28 – March 8, 2015, students, staff and faculty from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) at the University of Florida will be visiting Tucson, Arizona to conduct an oral history field work trip. The research goals of this trip are centered on discovering the importance of ethnic studies education in the United States. Working in collaboration with students and faculty from Prescott College, UC-Santa Barbara, and the University of New Mexico, and educators from the Tucson community, this week long trip will focus on conducting oral history interviews and participating in workshops and panels focused on the gathering of voices regarding the impact of ethnic studies education among students and their respective communities.

This project seeks to place University of Florida students and the Tucson community in conversation regarding their educational experiences and what role ethnic studies plays in students’ academic experiences. We will be conducting oral history interviews regarding peoples’ educational experiences in the area. If you wish to be interviewed, please contact SPOHP Latina/o Diaspora in the Americas Project Coordinator Ms. Génesis Lara.

University of Florida:                                                                            Prescott College:
Ms. Génesis Lara                                                                                Dr. Anita Fernández
(786) 4704134                                                                                     (928) 273-2449

Image from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, taken at the December 2014 Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures event with the Latina/o Diaspora in the Americas class.

Press Release
For Immediate Release

February 13, 2015, On March 5, 2015 at the Western Institute for Leadership Development at 6:00pm Prescott College and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida will present the panel Documenting the Ethnic Studies Struggles through Oral History: A Conversation between Prescott College and the University of Florida.

The panel will be focused on the impact of ethnic studies education throughout different educational levels. Educators will speak on their experiences implementing ethnic studies curriculum in elementary, secondary and higher education. Panelists include Norma Gonzalez, teacher at Manzo Elementary School, Sean Arce, co-founder and Director of the now banned Tucson Mexican American Studies Program, Jonathan Gomez, Sociology Ph.D. student at UC-Santa Barbara, and Dr. Paul Ortiz, professor of History at the University of Florida and Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. Moderated by Dr. Anita Fernández from Prescott College, this panel hopes to open a conversation between educators, students and community members regarding the relevance of ethnic studies education and its importance to the future of education across the nation.

Contact: Dr. Anita Fernández, Prescott College
(928) 273-2449

Image “Crossroads Classrooms” by Weddle Gilmore Architects 2005. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikipedia

From February 13 to 22, the UF School of Theatre and Dance will perform a new drama entitled Gator Tales, an original play devised and directed by Professor Kevin Marshall in conjunction with the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP). This is the first time that interviews from the SPOHP collection have been adapted to a full-length theatrical production. Inspired by the unique experiences of African American students at the University of Florida, from the first students who attended more than 50 years ago to members of the current student body, Gator Tales dramatizes honored stories from SPOHP’s African American History Project archive. This live theatre performance brings vividly to life the voices of local people who struggled for civil rights and the generations that followed. Featured voices include:

by Ann Smith, Veterans History Project Coordinator
In early 2014, SPOHP Veteran’s Coordinator Ann Smith gathered the volunteers for the Veterans History Project group for a fact-to-face meeting. Ms. Smith’s talk at this meeting inspired Mike Parker to become interested in conducting interviews for the Veteran’s History Project of the Library of Congress, where SPOHP regularly submits interviews.

Mike Parker had recently asked to join the group, since he knew of many of the WWII veterans who live at The Villages, the retirement hometown south of Gainesville. Mr. Parker toured the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s offices to get an overview of the program and later purchased his own Marantz audio recorder. He received some instruction on its use and began to conduct oral history interviews, which he remotely sent to SPOHP.

As he continued interviewing, Mr. Parker realized how many veterans lived at The Villages–more than he could reach. He called Ann and strategized ways he might recruit some help from interested volunteers.  After conducting an interview for a local newspaper, he had a group of seven interested volunteers.

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program is invested not only in collecting oral histories, but also in creating the best content at the same time. To this end, the program conducts oral history workshops. We suggested that before the Village Squad started they allow us to better serve the whole process by conducting a workshop for the new interviewers. Mike Parker reserved a space at the Senior Services building located in Wildwood, Florida, where Veterans Project Coordinator Ann Smith and Technology coordinator Deborah Hendrix spent an afternoon with five new volunteers.

The end result of this arrangement will be not only veterans’ interviews for both the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and the Library of Congress, but also other themed interviews including Home Front Project interviews of those who were family members of those that served, or remained at home, just to name one. There are many other types of interview topics, including African American history, immigrant history, history of Florida, and on it goes. The Villages area is comprised of a cross section of the country that has retired to Florida, increasing opportunities to collect interviews relatively nearby of those from other parts of the country.

We hope to expand the Village Squad collaboration by organizing transcription teams and as a future goal, video interviews. The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program is contributing educational instruction, equipment instruction, two Marantz PMD 660 recorders graciously provided on loan from Judy Shoaff’s language lab, archiving, and all processing of interviews for both accessioning into the SPOHP collections and to the Library of Congress.

The result of this opportunity will be an influx of unique interviews to add to the collection that could not be available otherwise, and a chance for a retired population to recognize the valuable contributions they are providing for future generations.

For additional information about the Veterans History Project and other collections, contact SPOHP, call the offices at (352) 392-7168, and connect with us online today.

“Oral History of Coastal Change,” Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County, by Trey Bonds, October 28, 2013.

Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County examines scientific studies and oral histories of coastal change in Levy County to prepare for the future. On October 28, the organization released this video, compiled with the help of SPOHP and Florida Sea Grant to record interviews with long-time local residents on the slow increases of sea level rise in their area.

Gainesville, FL—August 31, 2013 marked the fortieth anniversary of the acquittal of seven Vietnam War veterans and one supporter indicted for conspiracy to violently disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention. The trial and Gainesville’s role in the peace movement gained national attention when charges were filed against seven activist veterans and one supporter organizing through Vietnam Veterans Against the War, John Briggs, Scott Camil, Alton Foss, John Kniffin, Peter Mahoney, Stanley Michelson, William Patterson, and Don Perdue.

In 1972, Vietnam Veterans Against the War organized to attend the Miami Republican National Convention and planned a non-violent demonstration to garner public support for peace, meeting with Miami police and conservative groups in advance to prevent conflicts similar to those seen in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention. FBI investigators and informants inside of the organization, however, testified that VVAW had other violent motives and plans.

In the ensuing trial, the eight activists were prosecuted by the federal government for planning acts of violence and acquitted of all charges on August 31, 1973 in a trial that was highly publicized across the country.

As part of the three-day celebration marking the acquittal anniversary this year, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program conducted over a dozen interviews with surviving members of the Gainesville 8, the VVAW, unindicted co-conspirators, defense team, and family of jury members.

Scott Camil, Regional Coordinator of the VVAW in the Southeast, remembered his opening statement in the trial:

“The evidence will show that the seven of us who went to Vietnam spent a total of 111 months over there, received 57 medals and citations, and were all honorably discharged.  The evidence will also show that we threw our medals away out of shame, because we knew that what they stood for was wrong.  For myself, the throwing away of the medals I once cherished was the cutting of the umbilical cord between myself and the government lies, such as, ‘We are helping the people of Vietnam…’”

In the oral histories, interviewees remember the actions of agent provocateurs sent to Gainesville by the Nixon administration, memories of brotherhood in Vietnam, and the raw energy inside the VVAW house on 8th Street before the indictment. Veterans of the war and the peace movement also urged University of Florida students and budding community activists to pick up the thread of “truth-telling and organizing.”

Collected oral history interviews from the weekend are recorded in the Gainesville 8 Project at SPOHP. Interview documents, video, audio and transcripts from the anniversary interviews will be made available to students, researchers, and the general public through the UF Digital Collection.

For more information about this event and the Gainesville 8 Project, contact the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at 352-392-7168.

Press Release
The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida
September 11, 2013