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LIT6236 - Postcolonial Studies: Caribbean Migrations (Panama and the Canal): Panama and the Canal @ UF

Guide for Professor Leah Rosenberg's course, LIT6236 - Postcolonial Studies: Caribbean Migrations. Provides resources relating to the Panama Canal, the Canal Zone, and West Indian people and communities.

Panama and the Canal

The Panama Canal Museum Collection (PCMC) at UF ( includes millions of pages and items documenting primarily the 20th Century history of the Canal, the former Canal Zone, and the Republic of Panama. The collection includes a wide variety of materials including books, periodicals, maps, oral history interviews, artifacts, and archival materials such as photos, scrapbooks, letters, etc. Most of the published materials (maps, books, etc.) can be discovered in the library catalog. To discover and access archival materials, please contact John Nemmers or Betsy Bemis. Some PCMC resources are available digitally as described below.

Margarita Vargas-Betancourt has a good guide to resources (see the tab named "Materials on West Indians in the Panama Canal Museum Collection").

Digital Collection

Digital Collection

Available in both UF Digital Collections (UFDC) and the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC):

UF and dLOC are in the middle of migrating from our previous digital library system, which we had been using at UF for 15+ years, to a new system which is still being developed. The first part of this migration has been to create a new system with basic functionality (searching and browsing) and then the new system will continue to be improved/enhanced in upcoming weeks and months. In other words, the new system currently does not have the same functionality that the old system had. During this migration, we are planning to leave the old system online too so you can still browse/search using that. The URL for the PCMC digital collection in the old system is now:

Oral History Interviews

The PCMC Oral History Program was created to document the story of the Canal in the words of the people who lived it; capturing the details of life that are often not discussed in publications, not captioned in photographs, or would otherwise be lost. The oral histories are freely available online in the Panama and the Canal Oral Histories digital collection:

As part of our Oral History Program, we are partnering with Pan Caribbean Sankofa on a project to record and preserve oral histories narrated specifically by people of West Indian descent. Members of Pan Caribbean Sankofa conduct the interviews, and UF preserves and provides access to them as part of the Panama and the Canal Oral Histories collection. More information about the project is available on our project page:

Most of these interviews include both a recording (audio or video) and a transcription (PDF). For example, if you view the Interview with Marvin Gordon you can click on "PDF Files" to see the transcription and "Videos" to watch the interview.

There are several interviews that are not online yet because they are still being transcribed. If you're looking for specific topics or people, ask Betsy Bemis or John Nemmers if they are aware of any interviews that aren't online yet.

Contact Us

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John Nemmers
Curator of the Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, University of Florida Smathers Libraries

Contact Us

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Betsy Bemis
Associate Curator, Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, University of Florida Smathers Libraries
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