An A-to-Z of Oral History at Columbia | C…is for the Cuban Voices Oral History Collection


An A-to-Z of Oral History at Columbia is a monthly posting featuring the people, events, and organizations in the Oral History Archive at Columbia’s collections, as well as behind-the-scenes info about oral history methodology.


Collection title: Cuban Voices oral history collection, 2004-2010

hallway painted in a cream color on top of wall and rose color on bottom with potted palm plant, a photo of Che Guevara hangs on the wall above a varnished wooden bench with wicker inlays
“cuba” by Alcino is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Interview contents summary from its catalog record: “The Cuban Voices oral history collection is comprised of interviews conducted for the project of the same name. The project resulted in the publication of Elizabeth Dore’s book How Things Fall Apart. The interviews are intended to engage in conversations with Cubans who lived through the transition to communist rule after the Cuban Revolution and experienced events of the following decades. The goal of the project, led by Dore, was not to interview people who have established themselves as public or political figures after the Revolution, but rather to generate a dialogue with ordinary citizens whose narratives do not appear in conventional narratives.”

Sample Interview: Oral history interview with Pablo (b. 1957), 2005


Of Note:

  • There is a finding aid for the collection to help orient researchers to its contents.

Provenance: Professor Dore, Emeritus Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton coordinated the Cuban Voices Project, also known as Memories of the Cuban Revolution. Dore received a Ph.D. in Latin American History from Columbia University. Her research focused on the relationship between memory, gender, race and class in Central America, Cuba and Peru. Dore passed away in 2022. Her daughter, Rachel Dore-Weeks, was left in charge of the materials, which are comprised of more than 100 interviews. Because of her mother’s connection to the university, Dore-Weeks and her brother, Matthew, donated Professor Dore’s collection to Columbia University.

Behind the archival scenes: Flor Barceló, the Oral History Archives at Columbia’s inaugural Graduate Student Internship Program in Primary Sources recipient, wrote this bilingual post about the collection and what she learned from processing the collection under the guidance of oral history archivist, David Olson.

Use cases:

  • Professor Dore-Weeks used but a fraction of the interviews in her book, How Things Fall Apart.
  • Stay tuned for a forthcoming symposium discussing the collection and its importance to Cuban Studies.

Access: Researchers are able to listen to these interviews online in the Digital Library Collection or by making an appointment in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library reading room to hear the interviews and read transcripts. Information for ordering a limited number of interview transcripts and audio can be found by reviewing the The Oral History Archives at Columbia FAQ.

Additional resources: