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Greenwich Village Oral History Project: Celebrating Its Launch

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Jefferson Market Oral History ProjectJefferson Market Oral History Project

On Thursday, January 16 a group of storytellers, interviewers and library staff gathered at Jefferson Market Library to celebrate the launch of Your Village, Your Story: Greenwich Village Oral History Project. On Thursday's kick-off event, the room was full of energy and with 30 oral histories collected already, there was plenty to celebrate!

After volunteer interviewer orientation sessions in November and December, over 65 volunteers have been trained for this project, ready to collect stories from friends, neighbors, and family members about Greenwich Village.

So far, the collection includes quite a scope of stories - memories of quirky first Village apartments, interesting shop owners, and street games as a few examples. Ralph Lee, who was interviewed by Halina Warren, talked about organizing the first Village Halloween Parade in 1974. Doris Diether, longtime Community Board 2 member, told interviewer Elissa Paskin about her experience rezoning the Village with Jane Jacobs. Charles Consentino described his years of working at Uncle Charlie's Bar to interviewer Sue Spiner who listened to his stories for the first time.

Ralph Lee At An Interview in His Westbeth StudioRalph Lee At An Interview in His Westbeth Studio

As more conversations take place at Jefferson Market Library over the next several months, an important history of Greenwich Village is being collected through the stories of those people who have lived this history and helped build it through their own experiences.

Project storyteller Jeff Trachtman is on the far right in this photograph of Jefferson Market Library in 1968Project storyteller Jeff Trachtman is on the far right in this photograph of Jefferson Market Library in 1968

After these stories are collected they will be part of a circulating collection at Jefferson Market Library and will also have a digital presence at NYPL which could include an exciting new audio logging tool that NYPL Labs demonstrated in its initial stages at the kick-off. There are also plans to present the collection to Manuscripts and Archives at The Schwarzman Building so future generations can listen to these stories as well.

Interviewer Suzanne Kaufman discusses her thoughts on project goals at Thursday's kick-off eventInterviewer Suzanne Kaufman discusses her thoughts on project goals at Thursday's kick-off event

At the end of the night on Thursday, we separated into small groups and asked the question: "What are the goals of this project?" Across all groups, there seemed to be an echo of "We want current and future generations to remember the special community of Greenwich Village."

On Friday, April 25 we'll be hosting a final exhibit at Jefferson Market as the project is completed. In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates as stories are collected and listen here for a sneak preview of some of the stories collected:

Download: Audio (7.5MB MP3, 5 min 58 sec)

About this Project

Your Village, Your Story: Greenwich Village Oral History Projectis an oral history project that works to both preserve and document neighborhood history through the stories of longtime residents. This project will collect stories of people who have lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years, train community members to conduct these interviews, and share all interviews in a public archive and on the New York Public Library website, using these recordings as a springboard for public programming and community dialogue.

Get Involved

Interested in telling your Greenwich Village story? Please contact Frank Collerius (FrankCollerius@nypl.org) at Jefferson Market Library.

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