About the Project
“A Storied People” documents the experiences of Hungarian/Slovak Roma-Gypsy musicians in Cleveland, Ohio. It also includes interviews with other musicians and music professionals from other “Rust Belt” cities who have been connected through Romani heritage and/or professional collaboration to Cleveland’s once extremely active and renowned violin-and-cimbalom band scene.
The oral history archive serves in part to facilitate informed educational use of the George Batyi Collection of Romani Music Media, a collection donated to the Oberlin Conservatory Library by Romani-American violinist George Batyi (a virtuoso from Homestead, PA who has long been active in Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland).
Courses & Events
Professor McMillen’s project spanned iterative offerings of classes at Oberlin College in partnership with the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s Global Liberal Arts Alliance connected course program. Interviews were conducted by students and indexed in the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer across three offerings, including an Anthropology of Europe course, a focused “Roma, ‘Gypsies’, Travelers” course (offered as a globally connected course with “Bulgarian Government and Politics” taught by Emilia Zankina at the American University of Bulgaria), and a further city study of Cleveland at Oberlin College.
These courses generated new primary source documents through the interviews, and also led to a digitized a collection of musical records for the Oberlin Conservatory, a curation of existing library resources and associated ephemera in an Omeka-hosted digital exhibit, and a variety of guest lectures and concerts hosted at Oberlin College.