Oral History Campaign

The Panama Canal Museum Collection (PCMC) at the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries established our Oral History Program in 2010 to capture the stories and personal experiences of the American Era of the Panama Canal. We believe all narratives are important and irreplaceable, making it our goal to capture the broadest range of individual and collective experiences. Oral history interviews allow people to tell their own stories in their own words and share their own tales of everyday life and work, challenges faced, and achievements reached. We also want to capture individual perspectives on significant historical moments and cultural traditions. And most meaningfully, we want to hear the memories of family and friends.

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As an academic library, we make it our priority to collect, preserve, and provide access to these oral history interviews to support education, to facilitate research and scholarship, and to raise awareness about the American era of the Panama Canal. We have already produced 80 oral histories and made them available online, and we are transcribing and editing an additional 44 interviews to publish online. We offer these and future oral history recordings freely to a global audience as part of the UF Digital Collections and the Digital Library of the Caribbean. We share these interviews with students of all ages and include excerpts in our online and physical exhibits so that everyone can learn from your firsthand experiences, insights, and perspectives.

There are many steps we must take to produce these additional oral histories, including identifying participants, conducting the interviews, completing transcriptions, and publishing the interviews online. Because of all the time and talent needed to craft, obtain, and publish these important histories, they can be a significant cost to the PCMC. The total cost of a one-hour interview can range from $400 – $1,000 and with our goal of creating and publishing 25-50 interviews annually, we need approximately $20,000 each year.

With your help we can reach this goal! Our new PCMC fundraising campaign aims to raise $250,000 for our Panama Canal Museum Collection Endowment, an amount that will support the oral history program in future years. To prepare for this new campaign, the Friends of the PCMC, in 2019, contributed $25,000 in funds raised by the annual Silent Auction in the past few years. The auction proceeds, along with funds from the Libraries, were used as seed money needed to hire personnel dedicated to the initiative. As the campaign began to take form in 2020, we received a lead gift of $25,000 from a generous donor, a gift representing 10% of our goal. The 10-year anniversary of the museum collection at UF is coming up in 2022 and it would be wonderful to celebrate that anniversary with the completion of this oral history fundraising campaign. You can help by making a gift and being part of this vital program. Together we can make it a great success, one that will benefit the PCMC far into the future.

To make a gift by check, please make your check payable to the University of Florida Foundation/PCMC Endowment #017606. Please mail the check to the Office of Development, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, PO Box 117000, Gainesville, FL 32611-7000.

To make a gift with a credit card, please call the UF Foundation’s Gift Processing toll-free number: 1-877-351-2377 (and mention Fund #017605) OR give online at https://www.uff.ufl.edu/give-now/?fund_id=017605.

You may wish to give a gift in honor or memory of a family member, friend, classmate, colleague, or group. All PCMC memorial and honor gifts will be used to support the oral history program.

For more information, contact the Development Office at (352) 273-2505 or lib-development@ad.ufl.edu.

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