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Oral History Collection

The Library began development of its Oral History Collection in 2007 with the StoryCorps Griot Initiative. Latinos in Conversation followed later that same year. In 2009, the library completed our Historias project, also with StoryCorps. The most recent project, Plainfield Voices: 1967 Plainfield Uprising, focuses on the events that occurred during the summer of 1967 known as the Plainfield riots.

Check out the entire collection here.

Plainfield Voices: 1967 Plainfield Uprising

In 2015, the Library began to create an audio archive of personal interviews with clear transcriptions of residents’memories of the civic upheaval that took place in Plainfield during July 1967. We hoped to collect as much first-hand information as possible about this event. 

This program was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, and administered by the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, as well as the Friends of Plainfield Public Library (FOPPL).

Interviewer Melinda Allen-Grote, volunteered her services to this project. She is a long-time resident of the city of Plainfield and has 22 years of professional experience in the non-profit sector, also in Plainfield.  She has extensive experience networking and partnering with community-based organizations on the local, state and federal level.  Much of her career involved working with individuals, listening to their stories and helping them access services and helping them create opportunities for themselves.  Melinda owns and operates a small business, A Remembered Voice, where she records the personal memories of individuals and families for their personal keepsakes.

Listen to the interviews here.

Austin, John Goldsmith-Heitner, Laurie Mack, Dwight Santiago, Edward
Cartwright, Jeff Hardy-Casey, Jacqueline Mack, Steven Simmons, Elliot
Cox, Martin Hendricks, Albert Martalus, Barbara Stembridge, Alfred
Crews, Gwen Jones, Charles McColgan, Patrick Stewart, Jim
Darwin, Gary Jones, Tyree Meyers, Art Walters, Mark
Darwin, Natalie Judkins, Harvey Moffatt, Kevin Winrow, MaryAnn
Dreier, William Kalban-Gennett, Allison Nichols, Donald Yood, Harold
Gaither, Waverly Logie, Alice Pittis, Albert  

Historias, 2010

flagsIn 2009, the Library was invited by StoryCorps, a not-for-profit company that conducts oral histories nationwide, to participate in a nationwide project called Historias.  This was a special initiative to record the stories of Latinos in the United States.  Working with the Plainfield Hispanic community, the library conducted eight interviews in February 2010. Countries not previously represented in our 2007 project were Cuba, Ecuador, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. These interviews are in Spanish and have been transcribed and translated in English.

Listen to the interviews here.

Adames, Jose Kuga, Alejandro Portal, Heylin
Bahamon, Leonor Kuga, Eulalia Villegas, Ricardo
Gonzalez, Flor Pastora, Idalmys  




Latinos in Conversation, 2007

Latinos in Conversation, our second oral history program, was developed to be our key Hispanic Heritage Month event in October 2007.  Working with StoryCorps, we conducted 13 interviews in two days.  The participants represented 8 countries:  Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico.  These interviews were also transcribed through a Union County History Grant.

Listen to the interviews here.


Cruz, Alma Toche Maccarelli, Nilda E. Pellum, Maria C.
Escobar, Blanca Martinez, Pedro Fermin Price, Libia M.
Flores, Claudia Delgado Mesia, Luz Rosas-Amirault, Eva J.
Freire, Claudia Veronica Ortiz, Christian Segura, Luz Stella
Jimenez, Juan    

Griot Initiative, 2007

V7051In early 2007 the Plainfield Public Library was asked to host two days of oral-history interviews, conducted by StoryCorps. As part of StoryCorps’ Griot project, a Plainfield historian  arranged to capture the stories of African-Americans in Union County. Our library received copies of the 17 Plainfield interviews, which it later transcribed through funding from a Union County History Grant. Listen to the interviews here.




Bethel, Dr. Leonard L. Lee, Mary Washington, Ethel M.
Brinkley, John Meshack, Lee Shade Weston, William S.
Carter, Gloria Nettingham, Malcolm Whaley, L. Yvonne C.
Dunn, Malcolm Riley, Barbara Wright, Vernell V.
Everson, Clark Van Blake, Donald J. Young, Bernice
Henry, Dorothy Vatelle, Reginald  



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