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Caribbean Oral History

Voices of the Caribbean -
Stories that help us prepare for the future

The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have weathered many storms, but how do they do it? Stories of ecological drought and other extreme weather events which impact the U.S. Caribbean are best told by the people who call these islands home and experienced them firsthand. Oral histories help us to capture and preserve those valuable stories and the, knowledge of weather, plants, animals, ecosystems, natural and cultural resources that are conveyed through them. Historical narratives can serve as a tool, not only to learn about the past, but also to develop resiliency for the future.

During the summer of 2018, the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center and the U.S. Geological Survey recorded the oral histories of resource managers attending a U.S. Caribbean drought workshop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The oral testimonies collected here provide lessons learned from the past and solutions for the future. We hear stories of extreme storms like Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as stories of slower moving chronic issues like drought and how they impact communities and ecosystems. These stories also provide insight into the science needs of the natural resource community in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – and we learn what types of information could help managers effectively plan for future extreme weather events.

As a whole, these individual stories — in their own native voices from U.S. Caribbean communities — give us access to a collection of experiences, with the potential to help communities and researchers now and in the future.

Climate Extremes in the Caribbean: A Documentary

These oral histories are held in the The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. The dLOC partner institutions are the core of dLOC. dLOC partners retain all rights to their materials and provide access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections. You can view the complete Caribbean oral history series here.