Oral History Projects

Oral History Projects

Center for Jewish Culture, Oral History Project


The oral history program sponsored by the Center for Jewish Culture began in 1981, inspired by professor Robert Waxler and Carol Marlin’s interview of Fisher Abramson in August of that year. Waxler completed the first 8 interviews, after which a cadre of volunteers led by Judy Barry and Barbara Kaplan interviewed many other individuals, in preparation for a major exhibit on the history of the Jewish communities in Fall River and New Bedford (the exhibit was mounted in the UMD library in 1982). Most interviews were made between 1981 and 1996, and reflect a broad range of experience within the Jewish communities of these cities from the turn of the 20th century through the 1980s.Topics discussed include religious and social life, family connections, war service, anti-semitism, and mercantile life along bustling Water Street and Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford ’s South End and in the North End community. The program was revived by Cindy Yoken in 2002, and to this date she has overseen or conducted interviews of over 50 people.Recent projects have focused on Jewish war veterans and concentration camp survivors and liberators, women, and business leaders.To receive copies of the audio files, please contact the Archives and Special Collections. 

Click for a PDF version of finding aid MC23.

Portuguese Oral History Projects

 Procession of the Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, Ponta Delgada, San Miguel, Azores, n.d.(1920?), photographic postcard.


This collection began with a group of 74 personal narratives created as the result of a UMass Dartmouth Sociology Department student project which took place under the direction of professors Donna Huse and Bela Feldman-Bianco between 1987 and the early 1990s. It includes interviews of a wide variety of individuals from southeastern Massachusetts of Portuguese descent, many of which immigrated from the Azores, but also many who were born here of immigrant parents. One noted interview was that conducted with former state Mary Fonseca 1987. Most of the interviews do not have releases on file, therefore use is limited. All have been transcribed.  This initial project has been supplemented with ....

Click for a list of names.

Cape Verdean American Oral History Collection

First all-Cape Verdean kindergarten, New Bedford, Massachusetts, courtesy of Betty Youngblood.

The Cape Verde islands are an Atlantic archipelago about 400 miles off the west coast of Africa . Originally settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century, they became an important stopover along transatlantic trade routes. They were for many years involved in the Western African slave trade; and as a result the population has traditionally been a mix of West African and Portuguese ethnicity. The islands have had a long history of emigration due to extreme poverty and prolonged drought. Although islanders emigrated to many parts of the world in significant numbers, by far the largest group emigrated to the United States , by way first of the whaling vessels bound for New Bedford , and later by way of a thriving packet (passenger) trade, also bound for the port of New Bedford and Providence . Although southeastern Massachusetts boasts the largest of concentration of Cape Verdean immigrants, many moved on to California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston and other parts of the country. In southeastern Massachusetts Cape Verdeans worked as whalers in the whale trade until its decline in the early 20th century.From around the turn of the century they filled the need for cheap labor in the textile and cranberry industries, which led to a steady influx of immigrants to the region until 1922, when the U.S. government enacted new laws to restrict the immigration of non-European peoples.

The oral history project was initially funded by a Healey Endowment Grant from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Foundation . Rosa Neto Lopes of East Freetown, Massachusetts conducted the interviews, which have been transcribed.


New Bedford Textile Worker’s Strike of 1928

Oral History Interviews and Research Collection 

New Bedford police headquarters hosting out of town police during the strike, July 30,1928. About 500 police were called in to help from Boston and elsewhere. This photograph shows the arrangements made to feed them while off duty.

The photo above shows the New Bedford police headquarters hosting out of town police during the strike, July 30, 1928. About 500 police were called in to help from Boston and elsewhere. The image shows the arrangements made to feed them while off duty.

This collection was assembled by Professor Dan Georgianna in the course of research for the book The Strike of ’28 (1993). It includes 45 oral history interviews on audiocassette of strike participants, family members of strikers, and strike leaders; transcripts to a portion of these interviews; and releases. The collection also includes original photographs and a microfilm edition of Mayor Ashley’s scrapbook with index. The original of this scrapbook is in the New Bedford Public Library. Secondary materials include copies of articles from socialist and labor publications (contemporary to the strike), publications pertinent to background research, a bibliography of labor history materials, summaries of journal articles, and notes compiled by the authors of The Strike of ’28.

(click here for complete finding aid, including historical background on the strike, MC 9) 


Logo of Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust

Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust

Slocum’s River Reserve/Island View Farm

Oral History Project

The DNRT and the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) co-own the 47-acre Slocum’s River Reserve on Horseneck Road in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The reserve was originally part of the 116-acre Island View Farm. DNRT and TTOR placed a permanent Agricultural Preservation Restriction on the 63 acres of active farmland, and sold that land to a local farmer. Edith Swift of Dartmouth and Thirroul, Australia, interviewed several individuals who were involved in the history of this tract of land, as well as the transaction resulting in its preservation.

Interviews available in the archives.


UMD Turns 40 History Project 

Breaking new ground logo

As part of this project, a team is interviewing current and former university employees, trustees, faculty and administrators. The tapes and transcriptions will be housed in the Archives and Special Collections at the completion of the project, where they can accessed for research.

Finding aid for oral history collection

Click for a link to the website.