The Oral History Lab @UPRM records, preserves, and disseminates the living history of the people of Puerto Rico with a focus on the stratified disasters of hurricanes, earthquakes, COVID-19, and the numerous sociopolitical and sociocultural issues that frame contemporary climate emergencies for frontline communities. Using decolonial and antiracist methodologies and trauma-informed approaches to oral history, our project is a nonhierarchical collaboration with mutual aid and citizen scientist organizations in the archipelago who are actively working to study and respond to disaster. Our work is rooted in the classroom, as our affiliated undergraduate courses focused on oral history and documentary filmmaking offer students the opportunity to enter their home communities to record stories from the people who matter most to them about the issues that are most important to them. The OHL was founded as a joint undertaking by the Department of English, the University Library, and the Film Certificate Program, which allows us to conceptualize projects through the interviewing, preservation, and dissemination stages. At the OHL, we undertake the dissemination of life narratives through an integrated high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech outputs strategy based upon the needs of our internal and external audiences. This holistic perspective fosters an understanding that amplifying eyewitness testimonies from disaster survivors is essential, as the qualitative, community-based datasets that these life narratives hold have the potential to impact policymakers, responders, and researchers who craft hyperlocal, local, regional, and national response and mitigation systems.

Welcome to the Oral History Lab!

OHL Projects

Listening to Puerto Rico

“Listening to Puerto Rico” grows from the award-winning public humanities project, “Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane,” which included over 100 undergraduate students from UPRM recording oral histories about Hurricane María and its aftermath.

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Speaking into Silences

“Speaking into Silences” leverages the assets of the university and the OHL to support mutual aid organizations across the Puerto Rican archipelago as they develop storytelling for social justice projects at their local sites.

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