Oral History Essay

Published: 2018-09-25 04:46:41
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History Essay Introduction

This essay is based on the oral history interview which took place on 11/26/17 with Mrs. Carmen Torregrosa at her home at around 10:30 in the morning. The interview was conducted in Spanish, and therefore the transcript is translated into English as best as possible through the word to word translation. Carmen Torregrosa is a Puerto Rican-born American who moved to New York at the age of four. She was born in 21st of September 1943 in Manati, Puerto Rico, to Dolores Cortes and Jose Torregrosa. She moved to New York with her aunt to meet her parents who had already settled there. She had two brothers and five sisters of which one brother died the age of ten due to diseases which cannot be remembered. It was such a tragedy and therefore it is very hard for Mrs. Carmen to talk about what happened. Mrs.Carmen is a Catholic who has three children, Ruby, Marilu, and Luis. She says that she had always wanted as a big family but unfortunately lost two of her children. She has always been a housewife and worked as a biller typist for 20 years. Her dreams were to be a secretary as she says during her interview, “I wanted to be a secretary. I always wanted to be in an office environment.”

Mrs. Carmen hobbies are to read and walk in the park. She remembers her special memories when she was a kid. She says that "I remember how hard my dad used to work to make sure there was food on the table. He would bring us a treat every Friday, which was a cake or cookies, so we always looked forward to Fridays. I remember my dad waking up early in a cold winter day to look for the salesperson who sold coal to make sure we had heat in the apartment. I remember my mom go on her knees to scrub the floors so that we can have a clean place to live.” These were the good old memories that Mrs. Carmen has about her childhood. She says that growing up; she did not want to get married since her mother always focused on education. During her interview, she records that,“No I did not plan to marry because my mom always said to get an education because it was important, however; I meet your dad Jose Torregrosa and fell in love.” She always wanted a big family of five children but unfortunately she lost two, and now only has three children. She does not have many memories of Puerto Ricco because she moved to New York when she was still a kid. In her interview, we see that she did not achieve her dream because she states that she had wanted to be a secretary of which she became a biller typist. She does not state much during her interview. 

Mrs. Carmen was born during the second war which lasted from 1939-1945. This is a period that affected the United States economy, politically and even socially. The immigrants were forced to do hard labor and even join the army to fight for the Americans. Many of the immigrants died during that time. Mrs. Carmen does not remember about that time because she was very young. However, the number of working women rose greatly during the war and women started doing jobs which had previously been reserved for men such as railway track workers, machinists, lumberjacks and even many of them started working in the army. The war also affected the immigrants since they were segregated from the whites and were made to do service and construction tasks. During the war, there was the development of industries since many factories were converted to make war vehicles; such as flamers and tankers and even bombs. The war brought some positive issues because it led to increasing in employment and improved infrastructure and industries. However, it brought about more harm than good. It led to the loss of lives and properties. Many soldiers died during the war. It also increased discrimination among the immigrants especially. Many whites discriminated the Latinos and the blacks.

Immigrants in the US

During this period, immigrants in the United States of America were not treated well. It was not easy living in New York because most Latino’s immigrants struggled to live in the United States of America, a country that welcomed and profited from their labor, yet they continually treated them as racial threats and undeserving in their country. Latin American immigrants were offered the least educational attainment, they worked in the least favorable labor, making cheap earnings and occupied the least job rankings. They had the highest rate of poverty among the foreign born. They were treated as second class citizens since they were offered the least welfare services.

Women were not treated equally as men. They had no political influence, and the law treated them as if they did not matter in the society. Their civil rights of women in the country did not matter. They have been changes over the years from generation to generation. Women have been fighting for their rights through public speaking, meetings, petition drives and even demonstrations. The staggering changes for women that have come about over the generation in family life, in religion, in government, employment and education did not just come spontaneously. Women fought deliberately and made these changes happen. Women were not valued politically and even in employment. As indicated in Carmen's life where she has been a housewife for her whole life and the only employment she ever had was to be a bill typist. This shows that the women's place was to stay at home and be housewives and if employed, they were given small jobs such as, to be secretaries and typists. 

Being a woman at that time did not bring many opportunities since women were not viewed to be as hardy as men. Women lived in a lifelong enslavement by other people, and their opinion did not matter to anyone. They did not have a voice in the government in which they supported through taxes and did not have religious freedom. Women at that time did not have the right to vote and had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation. They had no property right and had no means to gain a higher education since many colleges and universities did not accept female students. They were deprived of their self-confidence and self-respect and were made to be totally dependent on men.  

United States Citizenship for Woman

Women formed many movements to fight for their rights, and this paid off in the end.  The greatest change for women came about in 1998 when the United States citizenship for women marked the one and fifty years of anniversary of a movement by women to achieve full civil rights in the United States of America. This was when the women in the United States earned their full rights and freedom after a long struggle to fifth for their rights and freedom.  Women started to be recognized in their work places and were even given equal rights with men. They even started vying for seats in the government and became politically involved. Women started receiving higher education in the universities and colleges. This was indeed a great change for women because it brought about a revolution in the United States of America and even for women in general. Today, women have equal rights with me and even are allowed to vote and own property. They even hold high seats in the government, unlike previous generations where this could not happen. 

The essay shows the limitations of oral history compared to other types of history. Oral history is not often reliable because it does not provide exact data and information. Most data are estimated and often not precise. The information gathered mostly has mistakes usually concerned with numbers, ranks, and dates. Nevertheless, oral history is an interesting way of achieving knowledge and one can gather a lot of views about any incident reliably.

sheldon

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