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Oral Histories of Colombian Textile Workers in Greenville, South Carolina

Dr. Sofía Kearns, professor at the Modern Languages and Literatures Department has completed an exciting digital scholarship project: Oral Histories of Colombian Textile Workers in Greenville, South Carolina. Dr. Kearns, working with her research fellows Ingrid Ramos (2021), Marina Cox (2020), and Whitney Maness (2020) completed the project this summer. They then collaborated with the Libraries’ Digital Collections Center to make it available online.

Dr. Kearns’ students in her Latin American Civilization course in Fall 2018 also contributed to the project with preliminary transcriptions and translations. Each oral history video shows a Colombian “pionero” (pioneer), telling their own story of involvement in the textile industry, and of immigration to the US. They call themselves pioneers because they were the first Colombians to establish themselves here in Greenville since the late 1960s. The thriving Colombian community in Greenville, SC is known to be the oldest Hispanic community in the Southeast.

This project has been possible through the generous support of several Furman offices and departments, including the Office of Undergraduate Research and Internships, the Office of Community-Based Research, and the Modern Languages and Literatures department. The initial guidance into the process of collecting oral histories by Drs. Erik Ching and Courtney Tollison in the History Department, and Dr. Tami Blumenfield, former colleague in Asian Studies and Anthropology, was fundamental at the start of this project. Likewise, this project wouldn’t have happened without the support of the wonderful staff at the Writing and Media Lab and the Digital Collections Center in the James B. Duke Library.