About the Project

The WRI Digital Oral History Project, via an open source digital software, is documenting the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI), a grassroots student activist and community leadership training organization located at Hunter College. This site will present, via these oral history interviews, social movement activity at the level of a grassroots organization as exemplified by the WRI, which was developed to aid student welfare recipients to become agents of social change and actively involve them with policymaking. An oral narrative of an individual’s experience in a feminist grassroots organization provides us with new insights to the origins of advocacy, documenting the singular historical importance of grassroots organizing and working-class feminist activism. As a result, these narratives will help us to better understand what political and social conditions are needed in order for a grassroots community organization to succeed despite race, class, and gender tensions within its ranks. This digital oral history archive will be targeted at researchers, students, activists and historians as a digital tool to enhance research and teaching in social protest movements and feminist activism. Ultimately, this archive will give a platform to those who have had, for the most part, little voice in the public debate on welfare reform: former and/or current welfare recipients. It will provide students and scholars of social movements a positive working example of how women from various backgrounds can band together and enact social change.

Project Director/Interviewer: Cynthia Tobar

Social Media/PR Intern: Kayla Lawrence

The WRI Oral History Project is supported by a grant from The City University of New York PSC-CUNY Research Award Program.

Metadata Schema

Metadata was created using Dublin Core, a standard for crossdomain information resource description that provides a baseline group of descriptors that are common to all objects, physical and digital. The controlled vocabulary used was the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), in combination with the use of local subject terms when terms were not found in LCSH.

The microdata standard Schema.org is also used throughout this site, which provides a common vocabulary for structured data markup on web pages to improve how the site will appear in major search engines. Schema.org is supported across various search engines, which in return leads to richer search results. Below is a crosswalk that maps Schema.org terms to Dublin Core fields for each oral history interview record.

Metadata fields

Schema.org types

Dublin Core


Thing > Creative Work > name



Thing > CreativeWork > contributor > name


Date of Birth

Thing > CreativeWork > contributor > birthDate (from Person authority)


Place of Birth


Thing > CreativeWork > contributor > birthPlace (extended from Person authority)



Thing > CreativeWork > contributor > affiliation (from Person authority) > name (from Organization authority)


Interview date

Thing > CreativeWork > dateCreated



Thing > CreativeWork > associatedMedia (from CreativeWork authority) > audio (from MediaObject authority) > duration (from AudioObject authority)



Resource type [Text; Sound]

Thing > CreativeWork > associatedMedia (from CreativeWork authority) > audio (from MediaObject authority)


Resource Type

Format [Audio/MP3, PDF]

Thing > CreativeWork > encodingFormat


Subject [Agencies, Organizations, Laws and Legislation, Key Individuals, Subject]

Thing > CreativeWork > Keywords

Subject and Keywords


Thing > CreativeWork > copyrightHolder (from CreativeWork authority) > name (from Person authority)


Rights Holder

Reproduction Policies

Thing > CreativeWork > accessRights (extended from CreativeWork authority)

Access rights

Digital ID

Thing > CreativeWork > resourceIdentifier (extended from CreativeWork authority)

Resource Identifier

Main image

Thing > CreativeWork >  thumbnailUrl


Reference URL

Thing > CreativeWork > url

Resource Identifier


This project would not have been possible without the support I received from WRI at the initial stages of this project. Particularly Dee and Mo, thank you for welcoming me back into the fold after all these years away from WRI. Many thanks to Steve Brier, Sady Sullivan, Liza Zapol and Sarah Loose for their generous assistance in sharing their oral history methodologies and best practices with a new initiate. I would like to thank the New Media Lab at the Graduate Center for their technical assistance and feedback throughout the duration of this project, particularly Aaron Knoll for his help with audio editing tools and Andrea Vasquez for her guidance and support. 

Thanks to Perry Garvin who provided excellent support with the overall design and setup of the site. I would like to thank Corey Harper for his technical advice and feedback with using Schema.org. I also want to thank Meg Bausman, Iris Finkel, Leigh Hurwitz, Kayla Lawrence, Charles Macquarie, and Chris Mullin for their assistance with carefully summarizing the transcripts and with metadata creation. And a special thanks to Kayla Lawrence, who is handling the social media outreach for this project.


This project is dedicated to Vanessa Lyles (1965 - 2011). Vanessa instilled love and compassion from those around her, and could always be counted on by friends and family for her generosity of spirit and strength. She is greatly missed by all who knew her at WRI.