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Matilda Ostow

May 18, 2018


Hudson, NY


Recorded by

Sara Black

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This interview with Matilda Ostow was conducted on May 18, 2018, at the interviewer’s kitchen table on Clinton St in Hudson, NY. At the time of the interview, Matilda is a 22-year old woman living in Philadelphia and working in book restoration. In the interview, she discusses her birth and early life in Sommerville, MA, her Childhood and adolescence in a community housing complex in Cambridge, MA, and the way she values her connections to her family members and ancestors, especially her twin sister Nellie and her mother (who passed away when she was 17). Matilda discusses how her family immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe through Ellis Island, how their family name was changed, how they became established in New York, and how they assimilated into American culture as secular Jews. With these anecdotes, she reflects on the importance of having family history in the places she lives, how she feels connected and comfortable in a place when she knows her family members may have been there before her. She speaks about her mother’s death, and the experience of grieving and sharing grief with others while transitioning to college at Wesleyan University. At the end of the interview, she discusses her present life and relationships in Philidelphia, especially working in book restoration with her unique boss, Dave; her value of tactile work and experience; and her role as a volunteer grave gardener for Hannah Hollis’s grave site (d. May 17, 1886) in the Woodland Cemetery in Philidelphia.

This interview may be of interest to those who are interested in perspectives on ancestry, grief, memory, and place; life in Cambridge, MA and Middletown, CT; and in a young woman’s exploration of early adulthood. A key theme of this interview is commitment and rootedness to place, mediated through relationships.

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Sara Black
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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

Part of this interview may be played in a radio broadcast or podcast.

Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”

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