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Posts from the ‘New Roots Oral History’ Category

A look at “accessioning” in New Roots/Nuevas Raíces

By María Silvia Ramírez, New Roots Bilingual Archivist

At New Roots we are constantly looking for ways to improve access to a growing collection of oral history interviews related to Latin American migration that provide first-hand accounts of the demographic changes that have occurred over the last 20 years. I had the opportunity to examine one of the core functions of archival practice and collection development: accessioning.

NewRootsDiagramAccessioning is an essential first step that allows the archivist to gain intellectual control over the materials by knowing what is to be included in the collection and which restrictions apply for access. Our research team conducted semi-structured and contextual interviews in order to examine the current system for adding oral history interviews to the archive and provide recommendations that can help streamline the process. Read the full report here.

New Roots/Nuevas Raíces featured in The Southern Sociologist

We are very pleased to share that New Roots/Nuevas Raíces is featured by our very own Felicia Arriaga in The Southern Sociologist, Summer 2016 edition. Check out the article (below)!

Teaching Note
Felicia Arriaga, Duke University

Incorporating Art into Lessons on Immigration, Race, and Development in the United States I am the only graduate student studying immigration in my department, which means grad students and faculty often ask me to guest lecture on immigration. I teach immigration with an intentional focus on racialized immigrants and citizenship status as a marker of stratification. I also incorporate popular education techniques where I draw from both my own and the students’ lived experiences.

One way to begin having this conversation is to introduce them to these subjects with background readings by Natalia Molina and Douglas Massey and incorporating visual aids into group work. This visual aid allows us to have an in-class discussion analyzing a mural borrowed from Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), a non-profit I interned with for two years and where I currently serve on the board. These types of aids provide a holistic understanding of seemingly simple issues and appeal to different learning styles. The mural depicted is a production of the Levante Leadership Institute and the Beehive Collective (please see the original post for images).

The youth who worked on this mural are from farmworker families and most have worked in the fields at some point in their lives. I was initially drawn to work with this non-profit to learn more about educational issues facing the Latino/a community in North Carolina, but I stayed because of the connections I’ve made between my parents’ experiences as farmworkers in the Southeast and those of the families participating in SAF programs.

The left hand side of the mural depicts the current conditions of farmworkers and on the right is the aspirations and dreams of the young people, some of whom aspire to achieve more education but who also recognize that farmworkers should be able to complete their work with dignity. In class sessions, I typically ask the students to get into small groups and then choose an area of the mural they are able to contextualize with evidence from class readings, an area they don’t understand, or an area that just draws their attention.

Each group then describes why they chose that area and other students are welcome to respond if they believe they know more about that particular topic. For example, this section of the mural depicts the words NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) in barbed wire. In a course titled Nations, Regions and the Global Economy, I emphasized this area of the mural where the implementation of NAFTA
resulted in a surplus movement of goods, but not people, back and forth across the U.S./Mexico border. This trade agreement particularly impacted small farmers within Mexico, influencing first internal migration and then external migration. The letters are in barbed wire to indicate the simultaneous militarization of the border, which also results in the deaths of economic migrants searching for alternative routes to cross the border.

Because I study both race and immigration, I’ll also include another example specifically tied to my research. This section reminds the students and myself that it is impossible to have a conversation about agricultural workers without tracing the legacy of slavery, particularly in the South. This section also allows us to dive into the relational nature of race, explained in the assigned readings from Natalia Molina’s book, How Race is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts. There are also handcuffs in this section, allowing us to begin discussing how black and brown bodies are criminalized in the present day. For many farmworkers, who are also undocumented, this criminalization means they are also subject to the threat of deportation, particularly if they desire to stand up against unjust and antiquated labor laws specific to agricultural work. This criminalization of an immigrant’s legal status and the broader
criminalization of immigration law and procedure, known as crimmigration in the legal field. Once students understand that an immigration offense (i.e., illegal crossing of the border) is different than a criminal offense, they recognize that arbitrary and sometimes retroactively implemented immigration enforcement parameters are unjust and essentially  more complicated than the national rhetoric would have us believe. By initially talking about economic and historical relationships between Mexico and the United States, students also understand that the immigration “problem” is complicated and based in historically racialized immigration policies.

Finally, I often ask individuals to come share their personal narratives and have students listen to stories about migrants, through the use of New Roots/ Nuevas Raíces collection housed at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Southern Oral History Program. This brings the theoretical to the individual level where students, particularly in the Voices in Public Policy course I teach, are able to recognize how policies implemented without involvement from those most impacted may have differential impacts depending on one’s social position.

NEWEST feature of New Roots/Nuevas Raíces: Meet the interviewers!


Pictured : Fran Reuland, UNC Global Course Guanajuato Class of 2016

We are so excited to share the NEWEST feature of New Roots/Nuevas Raíces called “Meet the Interviewers“/”Conoce a las y los entrevistadores.”

Get to know featured faces from the UNC Global Course Guanajuato class, who were behind some of the interviews on Read more to learn about their projects and reflections on the experience.


WATCH NOW: New Roots/Nuevas Raíces Documentary



New Roots/Nuevas Raíces is a digital archive that contains the oral histories of Latin American migrants in North Carolina and the experiences of North Carolinians that have worked for the integration of new settlers into this southern state. Latino migrants have put down new roots in the United States South and opened up a distinct chapter in the long history of Latin American migration to the United States. Visit to explore the archive.

New Roots/Nuevas Raíces es un archivo digital que contiene las historias orales de migrantes latinoamericanos en Carolina del Norte y las experiencias de las personas de Carolina del Norte que han trabajado para la integración de los nuevos pobladores de este estado sureño. Los migrantes latinoamericanos han puesto nuevas raíces en el Sur de los Estados Unidos y han abierto un nuevo y diferente capítulo en la larga historia de la migración latinoamericana en Estados Unidos. Visite para explorar el archivo.

Latino/a Lives in the South: A workshop on oral histories for the K-12 classroom


Levine museum group photo

Sixteen K-12 teachers from across North Carolina gathered on April 23, 2016 to participate in “Latino/a Lives in the South: A workshop on oral histories for the K-12 classroom.” Teachers were introduced to the New Roots/Nuevas Raíces Oral History Archive and had the opportunity to visit the exhibit ¡NUEVOlution!. Teachers left inspired to use the tools learned to integrate Latino/a voices in their classrooms. The event was sponsored by the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Latino Migration Project, and Kamillethe Levine Museum of the New South.

The New Roots team would like to thank Kamille Bostick, Vice President for Education at the museum for facilitating our visit and meeting with participant teachers. We also want to thank Claire Shuch, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte for a great presentation.



New Roots/Nuevas Raíces Program Reception and Launch


Thank you to the over 90 community members who came to celebrate the launch of the New Roots / Nuevas Raíces Latino oral history collection. This bilingual collection of interviews, transcribed in both Spanish and English, focuses on Latino/a migration and the formation of new communities throughout the South.

Featuring the voices of students, workers, and activists, this collection brings home the challenges faced by recent immigrants as well as their children and grandchildren. The program included a brief video which documented the project’s evolution, followed by comments from library archivists and community partners. The reception featured music by Charanga Carolina and held listening stations where guests could experience interviews first-hand.

New Roots feature in Oral History in the Digital Age

Click here to read Jaycie Vos’s post.


Jaycie Vos,

An article written by Coordinator of Collections, Southern Oral History Program and Metadata Task Force co-founder Jaycie Vos about the upcoming New Roots/Nuevas Raices metadata site was published in Oral History in the Digital Age, a product of an Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Vos writes about the inception of the new site and the process of increasing visibility, reaching larger audiences, and improving access to New Roots oral histories. She also explains the advantages of metadata, and the exciting features coming spring 2016 when the site launches.

“This New Roots project gave the team at UNC fresh eyes toward oral history metadata and inspired us to ask ‘What do we really need?’ and ‘What do our users want?’ in ways that encouraged clarity, directness, and ease of use in describing oral histories and developing new features to reach new audiences,” said Vos. “This also informs and reflects the work of the Oral History Association’s Metadata Task Force, founded in 2014, which seeks to promote knowledge about oral history metadata and collaboration across the profession.”

Learn more about the OHA Metadata Task Force here.


Since 2007, faculty, staff, and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have conducted oral history interviews focused on issues relating to Latino migration to North Carolina and the formation of Latino communities. The interviews are in English or Spanish, and interviewees include immigrants, U.S.-born second generations, professionals who work with immigrants, policy makers, religious leaders, educators, students, and local business owners. This growing initiative, called New Roots, is part of the Latino Migration Project, under the direction of Dr. Hannah Gill, in collaboration with the Center for Global Initiatives, the Institute for the Study of the Americas, and the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP). Since 2011, these interviews have been archived and made accessible online through the SOHP’s collection in the Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library at UNC. Thanks to a generous award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Latino Migration Project, the SOHP, and University Libraries at UNC are working to make New Roots accessible to broader regional, national, and global audiences in new ways beyond the library catalog, finding aid, and SOHP digital archive.

Staff Spotlight: Meet Maria Silvia Ramirez


“I’ve realized this job offers a very special connection to my own roots. The perspectives of minority groups can easily be neglected in historical narratives, so preserving the oral histories of Latino people who made a journey similar to my own is very rewarding.”

Established in 2006, The Latino Migration Project is a collaborative program of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Center for Global Initiatives at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Today we are delighted to feature our newest staff member, Maria Silvia Ramirez, who works as an Archival Assistant. Maria took some time out of her day to tell us more about herself, her role with the Latino Migration Project, and where we can find her when she’s not in class or working (hint, it involves making something warm!).

Q: Maria, thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little more about yourself.

A: I was born in 1988 in Caracas, Venezuela. We moved to Ft.lauderdale, Florida in 1997 when I was 9-years-old. I was fortunate to be so young when we arrived. I feel that at that age, it’s much easier to adapt to a new culture and language. After graduating from the University of Florida with a B.A in German Studies, I wasn’t sure which direction my career should take. Eventually I decided that Librarianship was the right fit for me – I love organizing information and am passionate about helping communities. The SILS program here at UNC has been really great and I’m very happy to call North Carolina my new home!

Q: Well we’re certainly glad you’re here! Tell us what brought you to the Latino Migration Project. 

A: I was lucky to come across a job posting in the SILS [School of Information and Library Science] listserv. At first I didn’t know much about the organization, but I knew I could use my Spanish language skills in this position. I’ve since realized this job offers a very special connection to my own roots. The perspectives of minority groups can easily be neglected in historical narratives, so preserving the oral histories of latino people who made a journey similar to my own is very rewarding.

Q: We look forward to the great work you will do with New Roots/Nuevas Raíces and more! Tell us what you’re looking forward to the most.

A: I look forward to working with such a wonderful group of people to enhance access to these important stories. I have listened to many of the recorded interviews as part of my daily tasks and I’m truly humbled by the difficulties many of the interviewees face. I am proud to be part of an organization that actively seeks these narratives out and I’ll do my best to help the team make a great website that both scholars and the general public will be able to easily access.

Q: When you’re not in class studying Information and Library Science or working with us here, where can we find you?


Maria studying in Europe.

A: I’m a bit of a homebody. I recently started learning to crochet and have been obsessed with making blankets. It’s a good thing winter is coming. I also love to draw, read, and watch the news. I live in Carrboro which has these great coffee shops I enjoy spending time at.

Wow, we’ll know who to come to once the snow gets here! Thank you SO much for your time, Maria! We look forward to a great year!

About Maria

Maria Silvia Ramirez was born in Caracas, Venezuela and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 9-years-old. Adjusting to a different culture and learning to speak a new language instilled a deep fascination for languages and understanding other cultures that later led to a Bachelor of Arts in German from the University of Florida and a study abroad experience in Europe. Maria currently works for the Latino Migration Project as an Archival Assistant and is also earning a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from UNC.

About New Roots/Nuevas Raíces 

New Roots / Nuevas Raíces Latino Oral Histories document demographic transformations in the North Carolina by collecting extraordinary stories of Latin American migration, settlement, and integration throughout the state. Learn more here.



Call to Teachers: Explore New Roots / Nuevas Raíces Latino Oral Histories

Click: New Roots World View Teacher Resource

Teachers ​with particular interest​s​ in migration, storytelling, ​Spanish, ​bilingual education and teaching with oral histories are encouraged to explore New Roots / Nuevas Raíces Latino Oral Histories.

New Roots / Nuevas Raíces Latino Oral Histories document demographic transformations in the North Carolina by collecting extraordinary stories of Latin American migration, settlement, and integration throughout the state.

These interviews can be used in high and low tech classrooms to engage students with the political, social, linguistic, cultural and human elements of Latino immigration in North Carolina. In-depth interviews in this collection are in Spanish or English and include immigrants, US-born second generations, professionals who work with immigrants, policy-makers, religious leaders, educators, students, and local business owners.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides access to these 175+ interviews which tell stories of courage and perseverance that chronicle journeys by foot, car, train and bus over thousands of miles from Mexican and Central American homelands, and the experiences of settling in rural and urban places unfamiliar with Spanish-speaking cultures.

For lesson ideas, classroom resources, upcoming training and events, or to plan a class or community center visit with New Roots staff, please join the New Roots listserv.

New Roots Update

Author Jessica English, Bilingual Documentation Archivist, catches us up on the New Roots/Nuevas Raíces team and their recent projects. 

IT staff has been hard at work…

  • Developing a plug-in that synchronizes objects (PDF transcripts) in CONTENTdm with Omeka. New Roots is one of the first projects to follow the NISO (National Information Standards Organization) ResourceSync framework.


  • Developing a DuraCloud audio streaming plug-in for Omeka.


  • Using the Open Archive Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) to write scripts that synchronize English and Spanish metadata in both content management systems.



Speaking of metadata…

After briefly considering manually entering Spanish-language metadata and metadata fields directly into the new Omeka site, and therefore separately from the current CONTENTdm-based Southern Oral History Program’s database, New Roots staff has decided to enter all bilingual metadata in CONTENTdm.

The cataloging folks on the New Roots staff had been concerned that duplicating Spanish-language metadata fields in CONTENTdm would be confusing, irrelevant and clunky for the other 5000 English-language interviews in the SOHP database. However, IT staff overcame this challenge with an elegant solution: synchronizing repeated metadata content so that only a couple of new metadata fields need to be added to CONTENTdm, minimizing the confusion and streamlining manual data entry.


Where the CONTENTdm metadata field contents are the same in English and Spanish, the CONTENTdm metadata field [Interviewee name] will feed into two Omeka metadata fields—[Interviewee name] and [Nombre de entrevistado]—and contain the same content [Borges, Jorge Luis].




We are also currently developing a new metadata schema for the project that will enhance access to the New Roots collection in both the Southern Oral History Program database and in the new Omeka site. Some of the additional metadata we are in the process of adding to New Roots records in CONTENTdm include:


  • Abstracts in English and Spanish.


  • Natural language descriptive metadata terms defining interview “subject topics” in English and Spanish. A test search using some of the new subject topics recalled some New Roots interviews. By further populating this “subject topical” field and adding a browse page for the collection, users will be able to find New Roots interviews by subject in the Southern Oral History Program Database, as well in English and Spanish as on the Omeka site.


  • “Country of birth” and “Places of residence.” Right now these are useful as text based descriptions, but we also hope that these new fields will allow us to easily transfer interviewee’s migration paths to an interactive map in the future.



Other exciting updates to the new Omeka test site:


  • The full transcript package (everything in a record’s PDF in CONTENTdm) will be full-text searchable.


  • Titles are improved by containing both the interview number and the interviewee’s name.

And the drumroll, please…


  • The Omeka test site allows users to dynamically toggle the entire site contents from English to Spanish. This includes the site navigation, metadata fields, as well as the metadata itself!



Stay tuned for more exciting updates!