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Oral History Collection

GVSHP began its Oral History Project in the mid-nineties to help preserve memories of the preservation movement in Greenwich Village. The collection currently contains four Oral History Collections: East Village, Preservation Pioneers, South Village, and Westbeth, as well as newly released Oral Histories. The Oral History Collection includes 39 entries, each of which contain a short interview description, transcript, and several audio clips. An abstract is available at the beginning of each transcript. 

Researchers are encouraged to access the audio files. Questions and research appointments should be directed to Sam Moskowitz.

Please click below to access the following collections:

East Village
Preservation Pioneers
South Village
Westbeth

New Releases:
Otis Kidwell Burger
Vincent Livelli
Peter Ruta
Rich Wandel

Otis Kidwell Burger
Otis Kidwell Burger has lived on Bethune Street for 58 years, and her life has intertwined with some of the most intriguing and important figures in the Village during that time.  She rented a room to Jane Jacobs in the 1950’s, during which time she wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” and  threw parties at her home attended by Norman Mailer and several other great 20th century literary luminaries.  In her interview, Ms. Burger reflects on some of the major changes she has seen in the Village since the 1950’s, and discusses her incredible family history, which includes her great-grandfather, Sidney Howard Gay, the Editor of The Anti-Slavery Standard (who is sometimes thought to be the namesake of Gay Street). 

Listen to a short audio clip:


Listen to the full interview here:


Read the full interview transcript



Vincent Livelli

Vincent Livelli has lived in the Village for close to 100 years. From the 1940s to 1970s Vincent helped revolutionize the cruise ship industry as a music and dance director. Vincent reminices about his early years growing up in the South Village, the child of Sicilian and Genovese immigrants, and his career as a muscian, crossing paths with industry legends such as Al Jolson, Charlie Parker, and Anatole Broyard.

Listen to a short audio clip:


Listen to the full interview here:


Read the full interview transcript




Peter Ruta
A renowned painter who focused on views of Lower Manhattan, Ruta painted for nearly seventy years and had lived in Westbeth since its opening in 1970 when he passed away in late 2016.  Born in Germany, he fled to Italy to escape Hitler's rise to power, finally ending up in NYC. In this interview he discusses his time served as an American soldier in WWII and the painting career that followed, as well as memories of raising a family in Westbeth with his wife, Suzanne.

Listen to a short audio clip:



Read the full interview transcript



Rich Wandel

Rich is a former president of the Gay Activist Alliance, and served as the Archivist Historian at the LGBT Community Center from its founding in 1990 to today. From the 1980s, through the AIDS Crisis, and towards greater tolerance and acceptance, Rich has been a leader in the ongoing LGBT civil rights movement. Listen to Rich discuss the Village, Christopher Street, and Stonewall as symbols of gay life and gay rights.

Listen to a short audio clip:


Listen to the full interview here:


Read the full interview transcript



 




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