Oral History Project Tells Life Stories of Pioneering Sarasota Residents

A doctor to Siesta Key’s artist community, an activist for LGBTQ rights, an arts entrepreneur, and the daughter of the founder of modern Sarasota: The life stories of four of this region’s most notable residents will be told in New College of Florida’s ninth annual Sarasota Oral History Project.

The project presentation will be on Thursday, January 25, at New College’s Sainer Pavilion. A reception will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the 6:30 p.m. screening. Refreshments will be provided, and admission is free.

This collaborative project between Gulf Coast residents and students at New College explores how residents’ lives have shaped and been shaped by a changing Sarasota. The event features a slide show highlighting oral histories, collected and produced by students working with Dr. Erin Dean, associate professor of anthropology.

The project serves to preserve storytelling traditions and oral histories, which would otherwise be lost over time. These personal narratives, as told by local residents, provide a glimpse into the area as it used to be.

This year’s oral history subjects are:

Freeman Epes, a physician who established his medical practice among the artists of Siesta Key in the 1960s.

Jim Jablonski, an active member of Sarasota’s LGBTQ community and former board member of ALSO Youth.

Shakira Refos, an entrepreneur and activist behind Ringling Underground and the Sarasota Film Festival.

Harriet Stieff, the daughter of pioneering Sarasota developer Owen Burns and one of the first students at the Out-of-Door School.


Sarasota Oral History Project

Stories of our community, told by local residents

Thursday, January 25

6:00 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. screening

Sainer Pavilion at New College of Florida

5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243


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