Paying Respects: Stories of Family and Friends Buried in New York's Potter's Field

By Leyla Vural

This installation is a part of Then, Now, Next: Oral History for Social Change, OHMA's multimedia interactive popup exhibition of stories, which will take place at the Refectory at Union Theological Seminary on April 29, 2015.

Hart Island sits in the Long Island Sound, just east of City Island in the Bronx. About one million New Yorkers have been buried there since it first became our city's potters field, or public graveyard, in 1869. Because the Dept. of Correction runs the island and prisoners from Rikers do the burials, visitor access to the island is highly restricted. Those buried on Hart Island are often called the forgotten, thought of as people no one cares about. But there's another story. Listen to family and friends talk about the people buried on the island whom they loved and what Hart Island means to them -- and leave a note of remembrance.

Leyla Vural spent 20 years in the workers’ rights movement, helping garment workers, office cleaners, nurses, and many others to win rights and raise standards on the job and to have a greater say in public life. She is interested in the power of people’s stories to effect change and, upon completing the oral history program, will return to advocacy work that’s based on people speaking directly for themselves.

Read more about Then, Now, Next: Oral History and Social Change.