While we are working, attending class, and doing so many other things from home, our blog posts will focus on materials that have been digitized and can be accessed remotely. We’ll continue to include links to our finding aids and other information about physical access, as well.
In 2002, writer Emory Holmes II set out to establish a Poetry and Writers workshop at the Northeast Valley Senior Center in Pacoima, California. The project, entitled “Stories from my Hometown,” was funded in part by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department's Regional Arts Grants Program. As a key component of the workshop, elder residents, local historians, and senior leaders living in the Northeast San Fernando Valley participated in oral history interviews focused on migration stories and personal memories. In a culminating event, participants performed their original stories and poems, and exhibited a collection of photographs and artifacts that represented their personal experiences. In partnership with CSUN’s Urban Archives, each of the oral history interviews were preserved and made available for research under the title Northeast Valley Oral History Project.
The Northeast Valley Oral History Project contains twenty-one audio interviews of individuals who grew up or settled in northeast San Fernando Valley cities, such as Pacoima, Sylmar, Lake View Terrace, Arleta, and San Fernando between the 1920s and 1970s. This area of the San Fernando Valley, which was and still is largely populated by people of color, has a rich and interesting history that has rarely been studied. These interviews offer an opportunity to learn about the history and growth of the Northeast San Fernando Valley through their uniques experiences.
While the project was intended to capture the personal experiences of individuals, the interviews also provide a valuable resource for researchers studying important events and issues, such as the first and second Great Migrations of African Americans, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, US entry into WWII, and Japanese-American confinement. Regional and local issues are also highlighted, including the transition from an agricultural to industrial economy in California; discrimination in housing, education, and employment; the effects of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods; commercial development; housing trends; and the evolution of transportation and road building in Southern California.
Oral histories have gained increasing popularity as important research resources, providing first-hand information about people, places, and events that may have been excluded from mainstream publications or scholarly literature. As a supplement to quantitative research, oral histories may reveal contextually relevant information that serves to support other forms of scholarly information, adding breadth and human dimension to the research experience. Images of many of the individuals interviewed for the Northeast Valley Oral History Project can be found in the San Fernando Valley History Digital Library. The bulk of the audio interviews have been transcribed and are available upon request.