The USF Libraries are home to a wide-ranging landscape of stories told in the first person that are most appropriately called ‘oral histories.’ From the culinary, environmental, and sports history of Florida to the incredible tales of World War II Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators, the program’s three collection areas provide one-of-a-kind materials for scholars exploring a variety of local, national, and international issues.
The USF Libraries Oral History Program creates and shares these original interviews using state-of-the-art digital technologies. Few libraries in the world produce and showcase their oral history materials with comparable access. Through streaming audio and printable transcripts, listeners around the world can mine this rich learning resource with three areas of emphasis: urban development and sustainability; Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity; and culture and identity.
Two of the most popular oral history collections in the USF Libraries program are the community-focused Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral Histories and the Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project, whose stories relate moving accounts from local residents that hold relevance worldwide.
The Otis R. Anthony oral histories were primarily recorded between 1977 and 1978 as part of the Black History of Tampa Project, sponsored by the Tampa Urban League and the Hillsborough County Museum, under the direction of community activist Otis R. Anthony. In 1994, Anthony donated the collection to the USF Department of Anthropology, to support its Central Avenue Legacies Project. The Department of Anthropology conducted additional interviews, focusing primarily on Central Avenue and the Afro-Cuban community. Listen here.
The Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project was begun by USF Department of Communication Professor Carolyn Ellis and her graduate students, in collaboration with the USF Tampa Library and the Florida Holocaust Museum. This growing collection of oral histories documents the memories of Holocaust survivors now living in the Tampa Bay area. Listen here or watch selected videotaped interviews here.
Each oral history collection is a time-intensive labor of love, requiring many hours of student and staff time to digitize, transcribe, and process the recordings, in addition to the initial research and investment on the part of the interviewers. As a result, archival-quality collections are carefully organized and preserved for current and future generations of researchers and curious minds.
Experience history first hand by listening to some of these oral histories, then contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 to support the oral history program, and benefit students and community alike.