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Stave's first Review makes it debut
By Luis Mocete
April 4, 1997
Being able to put food on the table was difficult for many Italian women who immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, after World War II. So to make ends meet, many of them took young Italian men into their homes as boarders.
"All the Italian ladies, they was full of boarders," one immigrant recalled. "The women come here and they don't know the language. And the boys, they come here single with no house, no nothing -- so somebody got the bedroom and ... could cook for them."
This is one of several stories told to interviewer Laura Quilici and reported in the lastest issue of The Oral History Review, the first to be edited by Bruce M. Stave, a professor of history.
"The article, which explores myth in women's narratives, won the Oral History Association's first award for outstanding use of oral history, and it was fitting to include in my inaugural issue as editor," said Stave, director of the Center for Oral History. "Combined with other pieces, it allowed for a special section on immigrant women."
The Review is the leading journal in its field and is distributed to more than 1,000 members of the Oral History Association (OHA) as well as libraries in the United States and abroad.
Quilici's article is combined with the work of researcher Alexander Freund on German immigrant women, who arrived in Vancouver in search of adventure and freedom. When these women came, they had to work as maids right away.
"That job was a shocker," Doris Schulz told Freund. Schulz had come to Canada with the hope of establishing her own pottery business. Like Schulz, many of these women were not given a choice. Being in a house doing manual labor contradicted their dreams and expectations.
The stories of immigrant women in other places at other times and from different cultures also are included in this issue. Celeste DeRoche examines second-generation Franco-American working-class women. The issues faced by the second generation show how being raised a woman in America contributed to the creation of both ethnic and gender identity and stereotypes. Her interviews begin around the kitchen table and they shed some light on family dynamics.
Similarly, M. Gail Hickey's analysis of recent Asian-American immigrant women and their daughters introduces a generational perspective on ethnicity. "She looks at mothers and daughters and how they have adapted to American society," Stave said.
The current issue begins with Julia Ardery's exploration of oral history and folk art through her study of Kentucky woodcarver Edgar Tolson. The article explores how recorded interviews may have helped his animals, dolls and Bible scenes generate more acceptance in the art world. By stimulating public interest in folk artists like Tolson and the things he and others made, oral sources have documented and cultivated a field of folk art appreciation, Ardery said.
The Review is published twice a year by the OHA, which was established in 1967 to bring together people working in oral history.