Drawing on the first hand stories of unhoused people’s working experiences, “Whose Town?” seeks to offer insight into the complicated reality of low-wage labor in Washington, DC. The site draws upon twenty-one oral history interviews that were conducted in 2015 in locations across downtown Washington, DC.
Students at American University worked with residents at the Federal City Shelter in Washington, DC to build this site. Through a series of hunger strikes in the 1980s, the Community for Creative Non-Violence established the shelter. Today the facility faces threats from commercial developers. Can public history projects play a role in sustaining communities that are under threat of displacement?
This site houses the oral histories and podcasts done as a part of a collaboration between the American University Public History program and the Shelter Housing and Respectful Change (SHARC) group in the Fall of 2012 and Spring of 2013. It is designed to facilitate discussion regarding the causes of homelessness in Washington DC so that we can can reflect on more effective strategies to build a movement to end homelessness.
From 2005 through 2011 Dr. Daniel Kerr directed the Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project. Students working with Dr. Kerr conducted and transcribed over one hundred interviews with people whose histories have largely gone untold. Students have interviewed poultry farmers and processing workers, labor and civil rights activists, Native Americans, Latino immigrants, ex-offenders, homeless people, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals throughout Shenandoah Valley. These interviews are archived with Carrier Library and are accessible via the internet: http://publichistory.jmu.edu/SVOHP. In April 2009 the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference awarded JMU Special Collections second place in the finding aids competition for the guide for SVOHP collection.
Cleveland Homeless Oral History Project
Between 1996 and 2002, Daniel Kerr founded and directed the Cleveland Homeless Oral History Project. Throughout this period, 195 homeless men and women participated in workshops, audio and video interviews, and research questionnaires. As part of the project Kerr initiated Frost Radio, a weekly show on WRUW FM Cleveland. Kerr and Chris Dole conducted fifty-six interviews live on-air and rebroadcast other project interviews on this show. One hundred and two of the audio and video interviews will be archived at Cleveland Public Library.