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Monday, May 16 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(General Session: Confronting the Unexpected) The Uses of Oral History in Documenting Disasters: A Case Study of the Florence Flood

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The Florence Flood of November 1996 was a seminal event in the development of the field of conservation and the careers of those students and conservators who went to Florence in response to the disaster. Thus, the topic of the Florence Flood has come up in the course of many an oral history interview conducted under the auspices of the FAIC Oral History of Conservation Program. In order to approach the topic more systematically, the authors took advantage of the November 2006 symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the Flood, held at Villa la Pietra in Florence, to organize a series of interviews with people who responded to the call for assistance. The fourteen interviewees answered questions about how and when they became involved in the rescue efforts and what materials and methods they had to work with. These interviews capture many stories about how the respondents confronted the disaster and coped with adversity. Oral history interviews record the observations and knowledge born of experience that do not find their way into the articles published in professional peer-reviewed journals. Oral history interviews add a human dimension to disasters. They may be biased and the material they contain may not be politically correct. However, they bring into the public discourse myths and rumors about treatment decisions and the efficacy of materials and methods, allowing them to be discussed and re-examined. In this presentation, the authors will use material from interviews in the FAIC Oral History Archive to show how first responders and later arriving students and conservators confronted the unexpected during the aftermath of the Florence Flood. They will also present the cohort of Florence Flood interviews as a case study on the uses of oral history in documenting disasters.

avatar for Rebecca Anne Rushfield

Rebecca Anne Rushfield

Conservator, Rebecca Rushfield
Rebecca Anne Rushfield, a New York City-based consultant in conservation and Associate Director of the FAIC Oral History Project , earned a Master’s degree in Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University and a diploma in conservation at the NYU Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Joyce Hill Stoner-[Fellow]

Joyce Hill Stoner-[Fellow]

Director, Preservation Studies, Winterthur/University of Delaware
MA Art History 1970; Certificate in Conservation, 1973; PhD in Art History 1995; began teaching for Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation in 1976; Served as Director 1982-1997

Monday May 16, 2016 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Room 210 AB/EF