Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
Oral history interview conducted by Marcelo Herman
February 02, 1989
Call number: 1989.004.24
0:07 - Razones para irse de El Salvador, viaje ilegal a México, arresto por agentes de inmigración mexicana - Reasons for leaving El Salvador, illegally crossing Mexico, arrest by Mexican immigration
18:29 - Cruzar ilegalmente a San Antonio, TX, viaje a través de Texas, búsqueda de empleo - Illegally crossing to San Antonio, TX, traveling through TX, finding employment
22:31 - Migración hacia Los Ángeles, regreso a San Salvador - Migrating to Los Angeles and Mexico City, returning to San Salvador
23:58 - Temor hacia el gobierno salvadoreño, desaparecidos, cruce a EE.UU. - Fear of Salvadoran government, disappearances, return to Mexico City, crossing to the US
32:26 - Trabajo en agricultura en Texas, Louisiana, Carolina del Norte, Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California y Utah, campaña contra inmigración ilegal - Farm work in TX, LA, NC, MD, IN, PA, CA and UT, crackdown on undocumented immigrants
48:07 - Llegada a Brooklyn, ayuda de la Iglesia de la Transfiguración, trabajo como vendedor de flores - Arriving to Brooklyn, aid from Transfiguration Church, job as follower salesman
55:37 - Empleo en Brooklyn, sueldos, incorporación a la Iglesia de la Transfiguración, proceso para obtener residencia - Employment in Brooklyn, wages, joining the Transfiguration Church, obtaining residency
61:04 - Mejoras a calidad de vida al obtener permiso de migración, trabajo de sacristán - Improvement of quality of life after obtaining residency papers, job as a sexton
68:32 - Comentarios acerca de traer familia a EE.UU, nuevos retos para obtener trabajo sin permiso de migración - Thoughts on bringing family to the US, newer challenges in obtaining work as undocumented immigrants
Oral History Interview with Mario Ramirez
Mario Ramirez is from the town of Armenia, not far from the capital of El Salvador. His mother, fearing for his safety because of the civil war, sent him to Guatemala when he was only fourteen. This began an odyssey that was to last many years and that took Ramirez all through Central America, Mexico and the United States, often just a few steps ahead of the immigration police and sometimes living off the land. At the age of twenty, he found his way to Brooklyn and the Church of the Transfiguration. Ramirez found work in a factory, and then as a sexton in another Brooklyn church, where he also lives. When the interview took place in 1989, he was studying to be a building superintendent.
In the interview, Mario Ramirez recalls his travels, many jobs, and hardships along the way. As a refugee from civil war in El Salvador, Ramirez remembers first entering the United States in Texas. He went back to El Salvador, but the civil war had worsened, and his mother sent him to Mexico City where a brother-in-law was living. He tells of crossing once again into Texas, and eventually finding work in the oil fields of Louisiana, and in agricultural work in the American South. He journeyed back and forth across the United States for six years. Ramirez recounts being helped by a priest at the Church of the Transfiguration when he arrived in Brooklyn. In the late 1980s, he made a trip back to visit El Salvador, and by then was established enough to help his family financially. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.
Brooklyn Historical Society initiated the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project in 1988. Over fifty interviews were conducted to document the experiences of Brooklyn residents who arrived from Puerto Rico, Panama, Ecuador, and several other Central and South American nations in the latter half of the twentieth century. This collection includes recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted between 1988 and 1989. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood demographics, discrimination, employment, community development, and political leadership. Also included are photographs and printed ephemera.
CitationRamirez, Mario, Oral history interview conducted by Marcelo Herman, February 02, 1989, Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories, 1989.004.24; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Church of the Transfiguration
- Ramirez, Mario
- Church work with immigrants
- Emigration and immigration
- Hispanic Americans
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- El Salvador
Finding AidHispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories