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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Working the Port of Houston

In 2011, folklorists Pat Jasper, Director of the Houston Folklife and Traditional Arts Program at the Houston Arts Alliance, and Carl Lindahl, Martha Gano Houston Research Professor, Department of English, University of Houston received an Archie Green Fellowship to document the diverse culture of work and workers associated with the port of Houston and the Houston ship channel.  Over the course of the next year, Houston Arts Alliance fieldworkers recorded  more than 50 interviews with a wide variety of workers, including pilots, marine firefighters, longshoremen, tugboat operators, port engineers, union organizers, and owners of port-related businesses.
The interviews they recorded and that are available here were used as the basis of the 2014 exhibit "Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel." In addition, composer D. J. Sparr and librettist Janine Joseph used these interviews as the basis of their opera "'On This Muddy Water': Voices from the Houston Ship Channel," which was presented by Houston Grand Opera, in partnership with Houston Public Library, in late 2014.

Essays and excerpts of interviews were published in: Jasper, Pat and Carl Lindahl, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel, 2014. Catalog record.

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