The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program congratulates Dr. Regennia N. Williams of Cleveland State University on her receipt of SPOHP’s 2013 Julian Pleasants Travel Award. Dr. Williams is an Associate Professor of History at Cleveland State University in Cleveland,Ohio. She received her BAs in Liberal Studies and Urban Studies, as well as her MPA in Public Administration, from Cleveland State University. She earned her PhD in Social History and Policy from Case Western Reserve University.

This summer, Dr. Williams will conduct research in the Zora Neale Hurston papers at the University of Florida. This research will support her work on articles for a special Zora Neale Hurston issue of The Journal of Traditions and Beliefs, a scholarly publication she launched in the 2009-2010 academic year.  This publication is a follow-up activity for the September 2012 “Watching God and Reading Hurston” International Academic Conference, which commemorated the 75th anniversary of Their Eyes Were Watching God in2012-2013.  For more information on the conference, please visit

Dr. Williams also plans to develop new curriculum materials based on University of Florida manuscripts related to the life, art, and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston at the University of Florida,including Hurston’s work with Stetson Kennedy on the Florida Writers Project. The new curriculum materials will encourage history students and pre-service and in-service teachers to use maps, books, letters, etc. to explore the African roots of American cultures and contribute to “An Atlas of the Cultural History of the African Diaspora as Documented by Zora Neale Hurston,” an online publication that will consider the writer’s work throughout the American South and in Harlem, Haiti, Jamaica, Honduras, and other places in the African Diaspora. For information on Williams’ previous online publications, please visit her website,, and the Cleveland Chautauqua Blog at

Dr. Williams will be in residence at the University of Florida throughout the month of June.

The Julian Pleasants Travel Award was created in honor of Dr. Julian Pleasants, Director Emeritus of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and longtime Professor of History at the University of Florida.The Pleasants Travel Award promotes cutting edge oral history research at UF,and includes a stipend of $1,000. Competition is open to graduate students,faculty, and independent scholars throughout the United States.

For more information about the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program or the Julian Pleasants Travel Award, visit: .

News Release
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP), University of Florida
May 14, 2013

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida announces the release of a new documentary, “The Fire Within: The Rebuilding of a Downtown Community,” which tells the story of the destruction and rebirth of Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Florida. The documentary can be viewed on SPOHP’s YouTube channel:

On Thursday, April 25, the Spring 2013 academic intern class of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville with members of Trinity’s congregation to premiere the new documentary, “The Fire Within: The Rebuilding of a Downtown Community.” The film was a culmination of four months of work between SPOHP interns and digital coordinators with the Trinity Episcopal community.

In January 1991, an arsonist burned down the historic Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Gainesville, Florida. A four-year rebuilding process brought back Holy Trinity’s worship site and ended in an expansion of church facilities.

Last year, Holy Trinity approached SPOHP about the idea of chronicling their church history. Students spent the past four months chronicling the aftermath of 1991 arson on Trinity’s congregation and the process of church building.

“Today we often talk about the need to build relationships between academia and the community at large, and the Holy Trinity event was a great opportunity to put that philosophy into practice,”said Erin Conlin, one of SPOHP’s internship coordinators. “Our interns were able to work with a warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic group of people, which makes for a great first interview experience. Holy Trinity in return received archival quality video and audio recordings of their oral histories, as well as a great documentary that they can share with the rest of the parish.”

Students conducted individual interviews with church members and then collaborated to pinpoint general themes in their interviews, including religion and civic engagement, women’s leadership,Trinity’s social ministry in Gainesville, and the resilience of the congregation to rebuild their church.  Students received technical training from SPOHP staff in video and audio editing techniques and worked together in peer focus groups to unify their interviews in one narrative, and then combined them into a documentary.

Emily Nyren, one of the interns, interviewed Georgia Vickers and was inspired by her work this semester to continue work in oral history. “When first assigned to conduct an interview with a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, I wished that the project was more related to my interests. I wondered if religion would be a large focus of the project and feared being asked difficult questions. Thankfully, when I met my interviewee, I soon realized that I had nothing to worry about.  Georgia Pete Vickers kindly welcomed me into her home and we spent a few hours together after the interview where we drank tea and ate Girl Scout cookies. Georgia was the quintessential interviewee and I’m so grateful for her part in the process. The Holy Trinity Episcopal Church project became a highlight of my spring semester and seeing the work that the other interns and I created come to fruition was incredible. I’m staying on to volunteer with SPOHP this summer because I can’t get enough!”

Carolyn Horter, the Historiographer of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, was similarly pleased with the outcome of the project. “I enjoyed interacting with the students, the faculty, and our parishioners as we worked on this project together.  It is a bit intimidating to be video-interviewed, and I think we were all a bit nervous about the process.  As well, seeing ourselves on the final tape created some self-conscious reactions.  The final video, The Fire Within, adds valuable pieces of personal history to our Archives.  It reviewed the fire and its impact on the church, and it gave evidence to our outreach programs in the downtown community.  As well, the individual interviews add greatly to our Archives and provide us with the opportunity to create even more videos with excerpts from each.  Our final evening pot luck supper was an enjoyable evening of fellowship—a wonderful chance to meet the hardworking students and their leaders.  The project was a worthwhile experience for Holy Trinity.”

“SPOHP shared its technical and intellectual expertise technical by helping Holy Trinity capture and archive its history, and we were able to package it in a beautiful video documentary,”said Conlin. “Holy Trinity opened its doors to SPOHP and gave us the opportunity and freedom to train our interns in a variety of skills including interviewing and video editing. In the end, we both benefited immensely.”

“This was a great experience in community-based oral history, and it builds on SPOHP’s research initiatives with faith-based communities in Florida and beyond,” remarked SPOHP director Paul Ortiz. The Fire Within is particularly relevant in discussions and courses of study on civic engagement, religion and social activism, women’s leadership, and church history.

For information about this and similar projects, please contact Tamarra Jenkins at and visit the web site of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program:

News Release
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP), University of Florida
May 14, 2013


The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program congratulates its students, volunteers, and associated researchers who were recently recognized at the UF History Department’s Fourth Annual History Honors Conference and Awards Luncheon for undergraduates this past Saturday, April 6.

Congratulations to all of these wonderful students! We are so proud of your great work, and excited for the bright futures that are ahead of you.

Presenters/Honors Students
Victoria Petrova, “The Revolutionary Significance of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church”
Military, War, and International Diplomacy

Kapri Crowley, “Casting Light on the Dark Ages: Tropes of Medievalism in Fantasy Films”
Representations of Past & Present in Literature and Film

Monica Blair, “With All Deliberate Delay: School Desegregation in Alachua County, Florida, 1954-1971”
Desegregation and Activism in Florida Educational Institutions

Chris Duryea, “The Problem of Resegregation & Magnet Schools as a Solution”
Desegregation and Activism in Florida Educational Institutions

Anna Walters, “Competition, Guilt, and Fascination: Incorporating Jewish Memory into the Polish Present”
History and Memory: Family and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Europe

Senior Awards
Isht Vatsa was awarded the book “Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution” by Dr. Eisenwein’s in recognition of his work in senior seminar this semester.

Future Scholars: 2014 University Scholars Recipients
Joanna Joseph, Genesis Lara, and Brittany Hibbert were chosen as University Scholars recipients for the 2013-2014 school year. Genesis Lara was also recently granted the Ann Regan Scholarship.