In the foreword to Val Rosenfeld’s Voices of the Undocumented, she illustrates the background for the collection of oral histories from immigrants. The immigrants in the collection are primarily from Latin American countries and have arrived in the San Francisco, California area without any documents to provide either residency or other legal status. The precarious nature of their existence in the United States underscores the very essence of this compilation and provides a running theme that connects the narratives of these individuals as told and recorded through oral history. While Rosenfeld refers to a preliminary personal draw to learning about the many men and women who sought out work at the Day Worker Center in San Francisco where she was working as an ESL volunteer, that initial simple interest was expanded to recognize more crucial needs and benefits of expression that are tantamount to human existence. Rosenfeld writes of her early volunteer-related encounters with those frequenting the Center, “I found that I wanted to hear their whole stories—where they came from, how they got here, and how they found their place in this country and community. Since many of the workers have limited proficiency with English, I realized that they needed to tell their stories in the native language in order to convey the details and the associated emotions” (i). With this recognition, and the additional support of Flor Fortunati, another volunteer teacher who would provide translation, this became a reality—the opportunity to express their stories in the language they were most familiar with and feel relatively secure that their stories would receive exposure in an appropriate context.
"Voices of the Undocumented,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 6, Article 20.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol6/iss1/20