YSU, Steel Museum Partner to Collect Local Latino Oral Histories

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor is partnering with the Spanish Language program at Youngstown State University to launch the Latino Voices in the Valley project.

Part of the existing Steel Valley Voices website, the series offers oral histories from Hispanic area residents, artifacts, images and links to learning materials.

“Seeing how attitudes toward immigrant communities have been shifting in recent years, I wanted to explore different ways to highlight how immigrants have contributed positively to the development of the Mahoning Valley and how they are integral to the community,” said YSU Spanish professor Diana Palardy in a statement. “A look at their oral histories can give one a greater appreciation for how they have enriched the culture in the Mahoning Valley.”

Among the stories featured on Latino Voices in the Valley are those of teacher Victor Arcenio, guitarist Armando Labra, soccer player Marcela Diaz and cook Carlos Ramirez.

“The website provides stories of hard work, struggles found in a new location, and the many successes that the participants celebrated,” said Marcelle Wilson, director of the museum. “They discuss some of the traditions they brought with them that have been preserved and passed down through the generations of their families here, including the music learned in their native countries, love of sports, recipes, holidays and much more.”

The oral histories were compiled by YSU students Brea Tinsely, Lindsey Chludzinski and Angelica Diaz, who conducted the interviews in Spanish and translated them to English.

“This enabled them to learn more about a variety of different Hispanic cultural experiences, see how immigrants and migrants were treated in the United States, and learn about their contributions through their employment and community activities,” Palardy said.

The project and website development was aided by grants from the Ohio Humanities Council and YSU’s University Research Council.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.