AC Oral History Program

Historian James Karmel has let me know about a great oral history project that’s in progress in Atlantic City. From the AC Free Public Library:

The interviews will take place throughout the summer, with the final product scheduled to be made available to the public this winter. Once the project has been completed, the interviews will be stored and archived in the library’s Alfred M. Heston Collection room of Atlantic City history.

Dr. James Karmel is the contractor for this project. He is a professional historian and author of Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era, which is based on oral history interviews he conducted from 2002-05. He is an associate professor of history at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Md.

This is the librarys second oral history project involving Atlantic City and casino gambling.

In 1978, the library interviewed 68 people representing the culturally and economically diverse mix of people who live or work in the city – small business owners, lifetime residents, city government officials, transients, school teachers and local celebrities. The interviews focused on the city’s history, the interviewees’ relationship to the city and their thoughts on the city’s future. More information on the 1978 Living History Project

Atlantic City Free Public Library.

I wish I had access to the 1978 project here. I could write some really interesting Casino Connection columns, I’m sure. Dr. Karmel and the ACFPL are doing valuable work here–this sort of thing is incalculably useful to future historians.

Chris Columbo, who was interviewed in the 1978 project, was a really good friend. I always said he was the great-grandfather I never had. I used to hang out with him when he was playing drums down at the Showboat and listen to his stories about the old times. Growing up around people like that might have been what sparked my interest in history. When you’ve got someone telling you what it was like to play with Lester Young, you really get an appreciation for all of the stories that are out there. I went to school and everything, but I think I learned a lot more from Chris and a few others back in Atlantic City.

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