Oregon State University to Digitize Oral Histories of Black Railroad Porters

oregon-stateIn 2014 Oregon State University received the African American Railroad Porter Oral History Collection. The audio recordings made between 1983 and 1992 tell the stories of Black railroad porters in Oregon in the early and mid-twentieth century.

The collection includes 29 reel-to-reel tapes of interviews conducted by filmmaker Michael Grice that were used as background for his documentary Black Families and the Railroad in Oregon and the Northwest.

Now the universitypullman has received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to digitize the collection and create a website to feature the digitized recordings and their transcripts.

Natalia Fernandez, curator and archivist for the Oregon Multicultural Archives at the Oregon State University’s Valley Library, notes that “the information gained through the interviews can be used to broaden the level of understanding of how African-Americans played a significant role in the social and economic changes to the Portland area and the state as a whole during the 20th century. The stories shared have the potential to deepen public knowledge and appreciation of the African-American experience and perspective in Oregon.”

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  1. Thank you for preserving this immensely important history! I’m grateful to Michael Grice, to all the people he interviewed, and to all whose work made this collection possible. The role of African Americans in our country’s history needs to be preserved and known. As an historian myself for “The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights” oral history project, it is aprivilege to uncover and preserve the contributions of all who built America. Thank your for what you’ve done and will continue to do.

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