Welfare Rights Initiative: Digital Oral History Project

Cynthia Tobar, Metadata Librarian at the Mina Rees Library, recently launched the Welfare Rights Initiative: Digital Oral History Project

The WRI Digital Oral History Project, via an open source digital software, is documenting the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI), a grassroots student activist and community leadership training organization located at Hunter College. This site will present, via these oral history interviews, social movement activity at the level of a grassroots organization as exemplified by the WRI, which was developed to aid student welfare recipients to become agents of social change and actively involve them with policymaking. An oral narrative of an individual’s experience in a feminist grassroots organization provides us with new insights to the origins of advocacy, documenting the singular historical importance of grassroots organizing and working-class feminist activism. As a result, these narratives will help us to better understand what political and social conditions are needed in order for a grassroots community organization to succeed despite race, class, and gender tensions within its ranks. This digital oral history archive will be targeted at researchers, students, activists and historians as a digital tool to enhance research and teaching in social protest movements and feminist activism. Ultimately, this archive will give a platform to those who have had, for the most part, little voice in the public debate on welfare reform: former and/or current welfare recipients. It will provide students and scholars of social movements a positive working example of how women from various backgrounds can band together and enact social change.


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