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Institute of Oral History

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The Collection

Current Projects

The Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project

Hispanic entrepreneurs always have played an integral role in El Paso’s business and economic growth. Often rising from humble beginnings, these passionate entrepreneurs relied on hard work and integrity to reach what some told them were unattainable heights.

The Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project,funded by the Kaufmann Foundation, identifies some of these prominent Hispanic business owners and tells their stories of overcoming expectations to become successful role models. Project organizers hope the testimonials from the 36 entrepreneurs, including 13 UTEP graduates, will inspire future business leaders.

Graduate and undergraduate students from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) worked with the University’s Institute of OralHistory to seek out first-generation Hispanic entrepreneurs who have owned their businesses for at least five years. In one-on-one interviews, the businessmen and women talked about growing up – often in poverty – to become business owners and community leaders.

To listen to audio recordings please visit http://heho.utep.edu

Bracero Oral History Project 

The Institute of Oral History expanded the collection of interview materials outside of the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez region with the Bracero Oral HistoryProject. The Bracero program, a federal guest worker program initially intended to address labor shortages during World War II, brought more than two million Mexicans to the United States to work. The Institute of Oral History launched the Bracero Oral History Project to systematically collect interviews with individuals throughout the United States and Mexico who were involved in the Bracero program. To date we have collected over 702 interview sand are transcribing the interviews to make them available to the public. To view the transcripts, and listen to the recordings please goto www.braceroarchive.org

Immigration

Over the last 33 years, the UTEP Institute of Oral History has built the largest border related oral history collection in existence, capturing and preserving the compelling stories of the first generation Mexican-American immigration experience. These stories echo those of America's past - full of struggle,sacrifice, promising opportunity, and success. This generation laid the foundation for another generation's profound impact on the modern social,cultural, and political landscape of America.

Ongoing Projects

Big Bend National Park

We are working with the Terlingua Preservation Foundation to gather interviews that will present a wide range of perspectives on the history, ecology, and wildlife of the Big Bend area from the 1920s to the present.

The Chamizal Settlement: An International Boundary Issue

The project is seeking to document the Chamizal treaty which realigned a portion of the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. The interviews are will Mexican and American officials who negotiate the treaty and persons displaced and/or relocated when the treaty was implemented in 1967.

African Americans in El Paso

The project will include a series of interviews with members of pioneer black families and others which document the experiences of African Americans before, during, and after desegregation in El Paso. The interviews will examine racial and ethnic relations in our unique bi-national, multicultural community.

History of the University of Texas at El Paso

In preparation for our 100th anniversary, the Heritage Commission and theInstitute of Oral History will partner to conduct interviews with former students, faculty and administrators that reflect the flavor of campus life throughout the first one hundred years of the Texas College of Mines/ Texas Western College/University of Texas at El Paso.

Completed Projects

The Mexican Revolution of 1910

Because of its profound impact on the social, economic, and political fabric of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, over 100 interviews offer personal testimony of this turbulent era of borderlands history. Many of these eyewitness accounts are in Spanish and frequently mention political figures such as Francisco Madero, Pancho Villa, and Pascual Orozco.

U.S.- Mexico Border Labor History

A two year study funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities added 95 interviews with workers on both sides of the Rio Grande, from El Paso-Ciudad Juárez to Brownsville-Matamoros. Interviews chronicle fifty years of employment history along the border. This nationally recognized collection has been utilized extensively by scholars since its completion in 1980.

Mining in Mexico: The El Paso Connection

Interviews explore the development of the mining industry in northern Mexico from the 1930s to the present. Topics include life in mining camps, working conditions, labor unrest, the function of foreign capital, political events that influenced the industry, and mining technology. These interviews, in both English and Spanish, constitute a significant archive providing rich primary source material to researchers and scholars in a variety of disciplines.

Health Care on the Border

Building on a series of tape-recorded interviews conducted by members of the El Paso County Medical Society, this oral history project features interviews with physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. The border presents medical challenges, and these interviews capture the special nature of border health care.

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