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Immigrant narratives project oral histories

Identifier: SdArch 45
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the experience of immigrants residing in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The collection comprises sound recordings and transcripts from twelve oral history interviews conducted in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Completed by James Madison University students in Dr. Allison Fagan’s class, ENG 360: Immigrant Narratives, the oral histories include topics related to the immigrant experience in Harrisonburg, Virginia, such as resettlement, cultural adaptation, xenophobia, and identity. Materials include 36 digital files comprised of audio recordings (.wav and .mp3), and corresponding transcripts (.pdf).

This collection does not include episodes from the “Harrisonburg 360: Real People. Real stories. One Community” podcast series.


  • Creation: 2020-2022

Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Agreements with the interviewees govern access to Oral Histories. Interviewees have chosen pseudonyms in two of the interviews. Due to the disclosure of sensitive information, the repository has restricted one of the nine interviews.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. Contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk ( for more information.

Biographical / Historical

In the spring of 2020, students in Dr. Allison Fagan’s course, ENG 360: Immigrant Narratives, conducted four oral history interviews with immigrants living in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The following spring of 2021, Dr. Fagan’s ENG 360 class students conducted five oral history interviews with local immigrants. In spring of 2022, ENG 360 students conducted three oral history interviews. Dr. Fagan selected interview participants, and students attended Institutional Review Board (IRB) training for research involving human subjects. Many of the 2020 and 2021 interviews were conducted virtually amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Students conducted original research, designed treatments and slates of questions, recorded, edited, and transcribed the interviews. Students received informed consent at the time of the interview, and gift agreements were secured upon review and approval of transcripts and recordings by interview participants. The objective of the assignment was to deepen students’ understanding of authority and agency in storytelling and amplify the voices of immigrant storytellers. The project culminated in a podcast series entitled “Harrisonburg 360: Real People. Real stories. One Community,” accessible at

From the Immigrant Harrisonburg website: “Every person deserves a chance to share their story, and we, as a class, are privileged to share these stories with you in hopes of expanding perceptions of what it means to be an immigrant in Harrisonburg.”

As of 2019, foreign-born persons comprise 17.1% of the Harrisonburg city population. This collection contains oral history interviews with individuals who emigrated to the United States between 1975 and 2017 and sheds light on the Harrisonburg immigrant experience. Immigrants from Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and El Salvador are represented.


3.89 Gigabytes (36 digital files )

Language of Materials



The Immigrant Narratives Project Oral Histories, 2020-2022 comprises twelve sound recordings and transcripts of oral history interviews with immigrants residing in Harrisonburg, Virginia. James Madison University students in Dr. Allison Fagan’s class, ENG 360: Immigrant Narratives, conducted and transcribed the interviews.


This collection is organized into three series. Interviews are arranged alphabetically by last name of interviewee.

  1. Oral History Interviews, 2020
  2. Oral History Interviews, 2021
  3. Oral History Interviews, 2022

Processing Information

At the time of accession, interviews with Ana Arias and Zee Alkhater existed across multiple MPEG 1 Layer 3 (.mp3) audio files. Special Collections staff merged the audio files and amended the timecodes in the corresponding transcripts to reflect the appended clips, generating linear PCM (.wav) files of the sound recordings for preservation.

A Guide to the Immigrant Narratives Project Oral Histories, 2020-2022
Bodeene Amyot Cairdeas
January 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612