On Thursday, December 6, 2012, the Columbia Center for Oral History in partnership with the Oral History Master of Arts (OHMA) Program, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program (CUSP), and Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars co-hosted the event, The Newtown Creek Community Health and Harms Narrative Project: Oral History and Public Health. The event was part of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series and an Open House for the OHMA Program.
The event started with a Q&A session between Suzanne Snider and the current OHMA students about her work as a writer and an oral historian. In addition to teaching at the New School University, Snider is also the founder and director of Oral History Summer School. She has worked as an interviewer for Columbia University’s Center for Oral History, the New York Academy of Medicine, HBO Productions, and the Prison Public Memory Project among others.
During the Q&A session, students asked Snider about how she got her start in the field of oral history. She spoke about getting her MFA in Nonfiction at Columbia, but it was in fact, an Oral History course that led her to fall in love with the field and eventually to pursue a career in it. She then presented on her latest project, which focused on documenting the public health concerns of individuals residing in communities along Newtown Creek in New York City. Snider spoke about some of the major problems encountered during the course of the project as well as the online mapping and social networking platform, Habitat Map, which was instrumental in her approach and methodology to give voice to community members who had been impacted by their polluted environment.
As part of the Open House for the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA), the event also included a short introduction by the Director of OHMA, Mary Marshall Clark, and comments from an alumna of the program, Kristen LaFollette and the Associate Director of OHMA, Amy Starecheski.
Post by OHMA student Maye Saephanh