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Guide to the Squatters' Collective Oral Histories Project OH.068

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Heather Mulliner in consultation with David Olson. Interview descriptions provided by Amy Starecheski.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on October 08, 2019
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Anna McCormick for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description  , October 2019

Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of interviews of 37 individuals documenting their experiences living as squatters in New York City between the 1970s and the 2000s. The majority of squatters interviewed in this collection lived in Manhattan's Lower East Side, but the collection also contains discussion of squats in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx. Individuals interviewed for this project come from diverse backgrounds and speak to the multitude of experiences among squatters.

Interviews in this collection address the general experience of life as a squatter in New York, and a large portion focus specifically on the process of transforming squats into legal, limited equity, low-income co-ops. In their discussions about legalization, interviewees recount their negotiations with the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), gentrification, reasons for seeking legalization, and their general opinions about the process. A number of interviews in this collection also touch on squatters' experiences, discussing the politics, organization, and social structure of squats. Several interviews also highlight the experiences of women and minorities living in squats, addressing issues including discrimination, underrepresentation, and child rearing. Additionally, the collection contains a number of interviews with housing rights activists who assisted squatters in their attempts to gain ownership of their buildings.

Oral history interviews in Series I: Interviews by Jeremy Sorgen were recorded as audio files, which were transferred to Access and Master CDs. Files from Series II: Interviews by Amy Starecheski were recorded as digital audio files and also consist of transcripts and JPEG images of the interviewees.


This collection has been arranged into two series, Series I: Interviews by Jeremy Sorgen and Series II: Interviews by Amy Starecheski, based on the phase in which the interviews were conducted for this oral history project. Series in the collection have been named after the primary interviewer who conducted interviews for each phase of the project.Files within series have not been arranged.