About the Oral History Project

The Oral History Project on Religion and Resettlement is a growing archive of interviews with refugees, former refugees, and asylees in the United States whose religious and spiritual lives have been consequential to their journey, resettlement, and integration. Religion is a point of emphasis in these interviews, and their larger stories are central to each interview. We seek to gather and share oral histories from refugees, and are committed to collecting stories from, and involving, the full range of religious and ethnic communities.

This archive contains over 170 interviews from every major refugee flow to the US since the Second World War: from Holocaust survivors to Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders. A common reason that refugees agree to participate in this project is for future generations to know what they have experienced, so this archive offers an opportunity to preserve their stories in their own words. With this in mind, we aim to provide an opportunity for further civic participation with and for refugees and to enhance spaces of dialogue, listening, and chaplaincy within communities along intercultural and interfaith lines.

 

Most of the oral histories were conducted by undergraduate students, and as a result, we have trained over eighty students in oral history methods. Because this project is housed in an Office of Religious Life, and is shaped by scholars, practitioners, and chaplains, we reflect deeply on the relationship between conducting oral history, public religion, interfaith, and chaplaincy.

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Oral histories are interviews conducted to collect information about the experiences of an individual to understand the personal and human elements of history. Oral history interviews are open-ended and versatile, allowing narrators to speak about what is most important to them. Beyond the confines of traditional history textbooks, these interviews and narratives can be used to study and understand how historical and political events impact individuals. As we attempt to change the contentious discourse on and public opinion about refugees, it is important to document everyone’s history to help us create a culture that is more welcoming, compassionate, and inclusive and centers listening to understand others’ experiences.

 

We hope this archive is used by refugees, students, educators, scholars, refugee resettlement agencies, and community members. With the resource map and learning materials, we aim to educate students about the lives of refugees and the civic and moral significance of religion in their lives, and to train students in the practices of oral history making.

 

We believe we can be better humans if we focus on listening to others to build relationships rooted in trust and care. To improve the US’ refugee resettlement system, we have to understand refugees’ experiences to create more welcoming policies and communities.

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How to Cite

Here's a sample citation:

Delgado, Ruth. Interview by Rosmeilyn Jerez. June 29, 2020, Hialeah, FL. OHPRR.

https://princeton-university.wixsite.com/oral-history-project/oral-archive/ruth-d

elgado (accessed April 22, 2022).

Please refer to the document below for more information on citing oral histories.

In the News

For more information about the oral history component of internships, check out the articles written on the following sites: 

Princeton University Homepage: Learning through listening: Princeton students participate in oral history project with resettled refugees in the U.S. By Katherine Clifton, Office of Religious Life.

Princeton Alumni Weekly: Students Collect Personal Stories of Faith and the Refugee Experience. By Carlett Spike, PAW Writer.

Princeton Alumni Weekly: Katherine Clifton is Listening to the Stories of Refugees, By Elisabeth Daugherty

Patheos: "Faith is Something They Can Take With Them": The Importance of Religion in Refugee Resettlement." By Melissa Borja, Assistant Professor of American Culture, University of Michigan.

Princeton University Humanities Council: BEING HUMAN: Religion Shapes Dialogue at Refugee Oral History Convention. By Katherine Clifton, Office of Religious Life.

Princeton Institute of International and Religion Studies: In My Own Words. By Katherine Clifton, Office of Religious Life.

We are Salt and Light: Praying with, for, and among Refugees. By James Martin, SJ, and Matthew Weiner.

National Catholic Reporter: Interfaith services pray for refugees, herald their strength, courage. By Catholic News Service.

Berkley Forum: The First Responsibility of the Biden Administration is to Listen. By Katherine Clifton, Melissa Borja, Matt Weiner.

The Daily Princetonian: Princeton students visit U.S. military base where over 6,000 Afghan evacuees await resettlement. By Edward Tian.

The Daily Princetonian: ORL holds U.’s 4th annual Pumpkin Carving Event. By Uchechi Ihenacho

If you have any immediate questions or if you identify as a refugee or asylee living in the US and would like to participate in an oral history interview with a Princeton student, please contact Katherine Clifton, kkclifto@princeton.edu, or fill out our contact form.