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The stories contributed here laid the foundation for a community history of Puerto Ricans in Central Florida. With the permission of participants, these digitally recorded oral histories will be archived in the Orange County Regional History Center, available to future generations. Oral history is composed of the stories and memories of people who have been able to preserve their stories through passing them down to family members and friends. Since the 1940s, people such as anthropologists, folklorists, and historians have been able to preserve these oral histories through the use of tape recorders. Now through the use of digital recorders it is much easier to capture oral history and preserve it for future generations. For more information, visit http://alpha.dickinson.edu/oha/about.html.

As part of this project, we produced four digital stories focusing on six individuals, designed to put a personal face on the larger historical themes we highlighted in the two-dimensional (text and picture) exhibit. Digital storytelling is a way for people to create what are essentially 2-3 minute films using editing software. Digital stories use audio, video, photography, music, and other elements to convey narrative in a format that can be preserved for future generations.

Digital storytelling has its origins in the community arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and has a number of potential uses. It is a tool for preserving heritage: the average citizen can learn to make one of these stories working with a more experienced digital storyteller, store it on a CD and keep it as an heirloom. Digital storytelling also has an increasingly important role to play in education, serving as an innovative way to get kids excited about reading and writing by having them start by creating a visual story. And, ultimately, it represents a new form of storytelling: we know that storytelling is a basic human activity that has its roots in childhood. Digital storytelling is a way to combine the best of traditional oral storytelling with new media forms and techniques to bring people together and encourage people to make their voices and experiences heard.

The digital stories that formed part of this project were drawn from the oral history research in one of two ways. Certain stories were identified for their story quality from the interviews themselves, so that the recorded interview becomes the voiceover track of the digital tale. Others resulted from first identifying the potential for a particularly compelling individual tale and then inviting the interviewee to participate in the creation of a digital story with the guidance of an experienced digital story creator. This involved follow-up interviews or meetings with the storyteller to ask him or her to find pictures that would best illustrate certain portions of the story.

In the digital stories produced for this project, we focused on personal narratives that highlighted several key themes introduced in the two-dimensional exhibit, such as: Puerto Rican migration history and diversity in Central Florida; Puerto Rican engineers at the Kennedy Space Center; making a cultural home; and putting down roots. In the selected stories you see here, Lilly Carrasquillo, an artist and teacher from Puerto Rico tells a story of bringing her art and culture to Central Florida, while Ernesto Peña Roque relates his experience of making a cultural home in Central Florida through transplanting the tradition of paso fino horses to the area.
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