Oral history interviewing can give scholars and researchers a first-hand description of historical places, people, and events. Memory is always tricky, so, like most sources of information, oral history data should be used in conjunction with other resource to build up a complete picture. Still, it is often the best or only way to find out certain vital facts and impressions. Oral history is especially important when researching people who are not traditional "historic figures"--people about whom little has been written during their lives. In the twentieth century, with the invention of telephones, easier travel and other technological innovations, letter writing has declined, and thus one traditional means of learning about the past is disappearing. Oral history can help to fill in that gap.

We conducted interviews with three Tirocchi family members: Dr. Louis Cella, Laura's son, Primrose Tirocchi, Frank Tirocchi's daughter, and Emily Valcarehghi Martinelli, Eugenia Tirocchi Valcarehghi's daughter who also worked in the shop; a former shop worker, Mary Rosa Traverso; and the husband of another worker, Panfilo Basilico. Each was able to add detail to the story that was not otherwise available.

The shop workers informed us about the social interactions shared between the employees "it was just like a family," Emily Valcarehghi tells us, "even better than a family because we never argued." They also recalled how the shop was organized, with the younger girls less difficult sewing tasks, cleaning up the shop, and delivering garments, and the more experienced workers taking on more demanding work. Each of the interviewees had revealing things to say about Madame Tirocchi herself: she "was a woman unbelievable," says Panfilo Basilico, "there are very few like that."

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   Sources and Methods
      Personal Papers
      Public Records
      Libraries & Collections
      Oral Histories
   The People
   The Business
   Custom Dressmaking



The STORIES is informed throughout by material from oral histories.