University of Nevada, Reno: Oral history project on the realities of undocumented immigrants

Project title

Realities of Undocumented Immigrants Oral History (RUIOH) Project

Bio sketch

Jennifer Cullison, Ph.D., has been with the University of Nevada, Reno since the Fall of 2019 as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Core Humanities Program. She is the Director of the Realities of Undocumented Immigrants Oral History (RUIOH) Project.  Before coming to Nevada, she most recently taught at Utah Valley University and the University of Colorado. Cullison is a historian and interdisciplinary scholar with a specialist in U.S. history and global issues of race, migration and citizenship.  Her research focuses on US immigration policy history since World War II, especially immigrant detention.  She has presented and published her work in the US, France, Mexico, and Colombia. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, her first MA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, her second MA from San Francisco State University, and her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado Boulder.


The mission of the Realities of Undocumented Immigrants Oral History (RUIOH) Project is to collect stories to educate elected officials, policymakers, and other interested parties about the realities and humanity of undocumented immigrants in Nevada. The RUIOH Project is collecting stories of the undocumented population in Nevada that demonstrate the humanity of participants before, during and after their undocumented status, reveal what participants find/found to be their specific resource needs while undocumented, as well as document concerns about immigration policies and practices at various governing levels.  The collection will focus on the stories of undocumented or formerly undocumented immigrants from all countries who currently or previously lived in Nevada.  The project has a goal of 50 fully processed interviews.  Interview material will become part of the Special Collections and University Archives of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries and will be accessible on the internet.  The project will follow the standards of the Oral History Association.  The Project, expected to last at least through spring 2022, is directed by Dr. Jennifer Cullison, a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) Core Humanities program. Bilingual student researchers will create research reports in Spanish and/or English for interviewers to use in preparation for each individual interview and act as lead interviewers. The project is being funded by Core Humanities at the University of Nevada Reno, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada Borderlands Justice Team, and the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra. Various community organizations have also been key in creating the project including Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada/Faith In Action (ACTIONN/FIA) and Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)

Agency representative

Jennifer Cullison