Proximity and Oral History: Trauma-Informed Listening and Practice

The Crisis, Disaster, and Tragedy Response Working Group (CDTRWG) welcomed Pamela Schwartz, Executive Director of the Orange County Regional History Center. Through review and juxtaposition of case studies in preserving oral histories containing instances of contemporary and generational trauma, this presentation will include a discussion of purpose, process, ethics, challenges, and use of oral history on topics relating to the Pulse nightclyb shooting, the Ocoee Massacre, politics and law, and more. 

Pamela Schwartz is a national award-winning museum executive and curator who currently seraves as executive director of the Orange County Regional History Center and the Historical Society of Central Florida.

Working within the museum industry since 2002, Schwartz joined the History Center in 2016 as its chief curator and senior program manager. In her role as chief curator, she helped increase diversity and inclusion in collections exhibitions an exponentially grew the museum's oral history collection toward centering community voices, winning regional and national awards for the History Center in the process.

Shortly after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, Schwartz was the architect of the urgent-response One Orlando Collection Initiative, which includes over 14,000 artifacts, photographs, archives, and oral histories documenting the memory of the event. She has become a national authority on historical collecting after community tragedy and has assisted other sites globally, from Parkland, Florida to New Zealand. She was also the chief curator of the landmark, globally-covered Yesteday, This Was Home: The Ocoee Massacre of 1920 exhibition. For these efforts, she and the staff have been honored with more than 25 national and regional awards in just six years, including the 2019 Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal, the nation's highest honor in the field, as well as other prestigious awards from the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, and the Society of American Archivists.