The Melting Pot Project
In June 2017, the Jacksonville Historical Society was awarded a state grant to record stories of immigrants to Northeast Florida. The project, “The Melting Pot: The Diverse Cultures of Northeast Florida,” proposed by the JHS a year prior to the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, received $11,500 in funding to record immigrant histories.
Oral histories from families who migrated here more than 100 years ago are part of the project. In these cases, letters, documents and subsequent generations provide the family story. Other oral histories date to individuals and families who migrated to Jacksonville in recent years or decades.
Although Jacksonville is not always perceived as an international city, groups from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America are all active parts of city’s diverse population.
The year-long grant program was kicked off with the presentation, “The Melting Pot: A Profile of Immigrant Groups in Jacksonville.” Immigration patterns to the city dating back to the late 19th century and up to contemporary times were explored.
Edited versions of the 14 oral histories can be found on the JHS YouTube channel and unedited histories are maintained at the JHS Archives.
“We’re all immigrants, but in this project, we’ll attempt to record stories and diverse populations that are not actively represented in the JHS Archives,” said Emily R. Lisska, who was JHS Executive Director at the time.