This Summer a SPOHP team of undergraduate students, graduate students, and SPOHP alumni returned to in Atmore, Alabama to conduct interviews with members of the Poarch Band of the Creek Indian Nation. Students learned the technical skills necessary to set up cameras, lighting, and audio equipment at the tribe’s archive building, as well as in homes on the nearby reservation. Unlike many eastern Indian tribes, the Poarch Creeks were not removed from their tribal lands and have lived together for almost 200 years in and around the reservation in Poarch, Alabama.

Dear Friends of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program,

As you will read in this exciting end-of- year progress report, SPOHP has reached more students, scholars, and members of the general public than ever. We have conducted community-based oral history workshops with churches, businesses, university classes, veteran’s groups, African American history museums, Native American nations and much more. Thanks in large part to your generosity we have been able to provide logistical support for social-justice research projects throughout the Americas and we provided transformative and life-changing educational opportunities for hundreds of students.

In the summer of 2017 we embarked upon our 10th annual field work trip to the Mississippi Delta. In addition to interviewing legendary civil rights organizers, our team performed a day of service at the Emmett Till Museum in Glendora and sponsored public educational forums on bringing civil rights education to K-12 students in Mississippi and the South generally. Teaching students how to learn outside of the classroom is one of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s specialties. From the moment when our founder Dr. Samuel Proctor trained a cohort of graduate students to conduct oral history interviews with Native Americans in Florida, North Carolina and Alabama in the early 1970s, SPOHP’s mission has been to promote experiential learning, civic engagement, and history outside of the box—and outside of the campus. In an era of “fake news” we train interns how to conduct rigorous research. In a time of polarized debates, we show students how to listen carefully—especially to people who share diverse opinions—and we engage students in learning the age-old art of conversation. When we return from the field, we teach students the art of digital video and audio production which gives them the ability to create podcasts and documentaries on important social issues that have gained broad audiences.

Of course, none of this is possible without your support. If you like what you read in this newsletter, I hope that you will join me in helping us celebrate the 50 th year of SPOHP by making a tax-deductible donation to help sustain the work of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. In addition, if you have a friend or family member who may be so inclined, please pass this newsletter along to them. Finally, I hope that you will visit or phone us sometime in the New Year. Our students, staff and volunteers treasure the opportunity to personally share their experiences with members of the Proctor Program Family! Thank you as always for your consideration and your support.


Sincerely Yours,


Paul Ortiz

Check out our year-end journal here. 




September 29th from noon to 2 PM, SPOHP is hosting an Open House in the SPOHP office to welcome students and faculty alike to get acquainted with our program, staff and dozens of exciting on going projects. Visitors can expect to enjoy refreshments as they learn about SPOHP’s fieldwork, internships, and volunteer opportunities as well as our many upcoming public programs and experiential learning opportunities.

MCDA is proud to present: Anti-Racism Education Week.
Come join us as we engage in an event series on anti-racism education, self-care, and education on the first amendment. This is a great opportunity to interact with faculty, staff, and peers on how to challenge racism and bigotry on our campus and in our community.

TUESDAY 9/5: “Café con Self-Care: An interactive Panel Discussion on how to take care of ourselves in times of crisis”
5:30-7:30pm, Reitz Union 2201
Co-sponsors: GatorWell, Counseling and Wellness Center

WEDNESDAY 9/6: “Our Collective Responsibility: What can we do to challenge racism on our campus and in our community?”
5:30-7pm, Reitz Union 2201
Co-Sponsors: STARR (Students Taking Action Against Racism), Student Government, UF Hillel

THURSDAY 9/7: “Origins of Totalitarianism” Lecture by Dr. Paul Ortiz and post-lecture discussion
6pm-7:30pm, Reitz Union 2201
Co-Sponsors: UF Hillel, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

FRIDAY 9/8: “A Conversation on the First Amendment”
5pm-6:30pm, Rion Ballroom

An event by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Co-sponsored by: Multicultural DIversity Affairs, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, and the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations (Levin College of Law).

Print and/or share MCDA’s Anti-Racism Education Week program flier below:

The Fall 2017 Internship Application is now open!  SPOHP’s semester-long academic internship is available to graduate and undergraduate students for credit as an introduction to the field of oral history.

The Fall 2017 Social Justice Initiatives internship offers a space for students to pursue their own interests in social justice research through training and mentoring in oral history and digital humanities methodologies. Interns may develop skills in interviewing and fieldwork methods; Transcription and interview processing; Podcasting and audio editing; Social media and event promotion; Short documentaries and video editing; Public and community engagement. Final projects involve conducting one or more oral history interviews and creating digital presentation for the public.

For more information, contact the Internship Graduate Coordinator Raja Rahim. Applications are due by May 1st, 2017. Please email applications to Raja Rahim or deliver to SPOHP offices, Pugh Hall 241.


Gainesville, FL—The Poarch Creek Project at the Samuel Project Oral History Program at the University of Florida, which focused on the digitization of oral histories conducted with the Poarch Creek Nation of Alabama in the 1970s, concluded in Summer 2013 with the successful transcribing of over 60 interviews. The oral histories were transferred to the Poarch Creek Nation, in partnership with the tribe, and are currently used in displays and exhibits at the Calvin McGhee Cultural Authority’s newly opened history museum, as well as the Evening with the Elders heritage program, a monthly series of oral history feature events.

Original Oral Histories: 1970s

An original drawing from the 1970s interviews, Dr. Paredes interviewing a member of the Poarch Band in Atmore, AL.
An original drawing from the 1970s interviews, Dr. Paredes interviewing a member of the Poarch Band in Atmore, AL.

Completion of the Poarch Creek Project is a testament to decades of cultural preservation work conducted between the Poarch Nation with the University of Florida, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, and anthropologist Dr. James Anthony “Tony” Paredes, who passed away in August 2013.

The interviews, originally conducted by and processed in the 1970s by Paredes for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, were digitized and re-transcribed in partnership with the Poarch Creek Nation and SPOHP from 2012-2013 to enhance the collection’s accessibility as historical resources.

The oral history interviews in the Poarch Creek Project focus on tribal history and customs with Poarch elders, including songs, education, language, traditional medicine, church practices and political organizing, as well as reflections on future tribal goals. The Poarch Band descendants represent some of the only Muscogee Creeks to remain in Alabama through the Indian Removal period of the 1830s, and were federally recognized as a tribe in 1983 after years of research and documentation spearheaded by Chief Calvin McGhee. The Poarch Band is the only tribe in the state to receive such a designation. Oral histories with Poarch leader Jack Daughtry and the McGhee, Tulis, and Rollin families, among others, are included in the collection.

Ongoing Research and Education

“These oral histories are a unique educational resource, both for Poarch Creek history and the span of oral history practice within our program,” said Diana Dombrowski, senior research associate at SPOHP and coordinator of the Poarch Creek Project. “The interviews are frequently used in educational programs, exhibits and displays at the Poarch Creek Nation, and are a clear example of oral history’s importance in cultural preservation work, especially at a community-based level.”

Scott Kraff, a SPOHP and UF alum, worked as a transcriber and audit editor with the oral histories. “I really enjoyed the stories people told about Chief Calvin McGhee, who led the drive to get the money the federal government owed to the Poarch Creek people,” he said. “I transcribed the 3-part interview with his wife, Joyce McGhee, who recounted Calvin’s life and everything he did for his people. The interviews with his brothers gave a deeper insight into what type of man he really was, and his efforts were talked about through all the interviews. They were a very significant part of the Creek history.”

Kraff is currently studying law at Georgetown University and credits his work on the Poarch Creek Project with contextualizing the historical controversies behind projects he is currently undertaking as a law student, which include civil procedure cases on behalf of Native American tribes.

The transcribing and digitizing process was a unique educational experience for staff working with the interviews, which were originally processed by SPOHP forty years ago and involved the retelling of tribal histories over a span of hundreds of years. Isht Vatsa, SPOHP staff and UF alum, worked as a transcriber and audit editor.

“An interesting aspect of working on the Creek project was the ability to track and analyze the development of the Creek Nation in the east for over a century, beginning with the original treatises that allowed for the formal establishment of the community, through infrastructural development, educational advances, and social changes,” he said. “The Creek Project allowed me to view a true photo album of the East Creek Nation’s history, not simply a snapshot.”

In Memoriam: Dr. Tony Paredes

The Poarch nation is planning a memoriam for Paredes at its next Evening with the Elders event on November 4 (PDF). Paredes worked as an anthropology professor at Florida State University for more than thirty years and remained involved with the Poarch Creek Nation throughout his life, playing an integral part in their documentation as a tribe and case for recognition by the federal government in 1984. He published “The Creek Nation East of the Mississippi” about the Poarch Band, as well as “Indians of the Southeast in the Late 20th Century,” “Paradoxes of Modernism and Indianness in the Southeast,” and many other works, listed in his official bibliography (DOC) Paredes’ Poarch Bibliography. Paredes’s obituary was recently published in the Orlando Sentinel.

For more information about the Poarch Creek oral history interviews, digitization initiatives, and cultural heritage education and preservation efforts in the Poarch Nation, contact Diana Dombrowski, senior research associate at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program ( or Deidre Dees, Tribal Archivist for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Atmore, Alabama (

Members of Chief Calvin McGhee's family unveiling his official bust at 2013 memorial.
Members of Chief Calvin McGhee’s family unveiling his official bust at a 2013 memorial.


Dr. Paredes, ethnologist and applied anthropologist, worked with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians throughout his life and developed the Poarch Creek Project at SPOHP. Photo from the Poarch Creek Nation.