The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives'
record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program
staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted
by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Kidd was interviewed for the Smithsonian Institution Archives Oral History Collection because of his long tenure of service at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
This collection consists of a 1990 interview of Kidd by Pamela M. Henson of Smithsonian Institution Archives, and Patricia Escobar Paramo and Elizabeth Stockwell of
the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, that covers his youth, work as a chauffeur and motorboat operator, and reminiscences of Barro Colorado Island and the scientists
working there. A second interview of Kidd by Mitchell Aide and Carolien Haverkate of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in 1987 was also donated to the collection.
The collection consists of 2.5 hours of audiotape recordings and 27 pages of transcript.
Oscar Dean Kidd (1907- ) was born in Jamaica and migrated to Panama in 1909. He grew up in the Panama Canal Zone, eventually settling down in Frijoles, the train station
used by scientists visiting Barro Colorado Island (BCI). The BCI Research Station was created in 1923 as a preserve for the study of tropical biology. In 1946, this Canal
Zone Biological Area (CZBA) was transferred to the Smithsonian and in 1966 was renamed the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). As a motorboat operator, Kidd became
acquainted with scientists visiting BCI, especially CZBA Director James Zetek.
Restricted. Contact SIHistory@si.edu to request permission.
Interview of Kidd by Henson, Paramo, and Stockwell at his home in Frijoles, Panama, across Gatun Lake from Barro Colorado Island, covers his youth in Panama, work as a chauffeur and motorboat operator transporting scientists to and from Panama City and...