Dr. James R. Karmel Atlantic City Project Oral History Interviews

Date: 2002-2006
Collection Number: H005

Extent: 1.0 cubic feet (46 interviews)

Repository: Alfred M. Heston Collection, Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1 North Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, (609) 345-2269.

Preferred Citation: Narrator Name, Dr. James Karmel Atlantic City Project Oral History Interviews, Alfred M. Heston Collection, Atlantic City Free Public Library.

Dr. James Karmel is a professional historian and author of Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era, which is based on the oral history interviews he conducted from 2002-06 for this project. He is an Associate Professor of History at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. Dr. Karmel has written or presented four other papers on Atlantic City and the casino era.

This project was conducted with funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission and Harford Community College.


Scope and Content:
The narrators for this project were chosen by Dr. Karmel. His goal was to document the impact of casinos on the lives of residents in the Atlantic City region. Narrators include government officials (both local and state), immigrants, casino employees, local business owners, and longtime residents of the area. Notably, this is the first project of its kind to document the immigrant experience in Atlantic City.

Karmel developed a list of questions for each interview and asked narrators questions about their childhood, education, work experience, and the role and impact of casinos in Atlantic City. He interviewed narrators at union halls, the Spanish Community Center, Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, the Asian Food Market, and other locations.

Audio recordings of some of the interviews are available as digital files in MP2 format.

System of Arrangement:
The interviews are arranged alphabetically by the narrator’s last name. A complete list of the interviewees is included below, with brief biographical information and interview content. Some interviews have full transcripts, while others are more like notes taken during the interviews. Audio recordings are available for some of the interviews; these are noted in the list below also. Audio files do not exist for every interview.  Transcript and audio are missing for 1 of the interviews.

There are seven interviews by narrators that are restricted. These will be closed to research for 75 years for privacy reasons and are not included in the list below.


Subject Access Points:
Atlantic City (N.J.) – History – 21st century
Casino Gambling – New Jersey – Atlantic City – History
Immigrants – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Oral History – New Jersey – Atlantic City

Atlantic City Fire Department
Atlantic City Housing Authority
Bally’s Park Place
Casino Control Comisión
Trump Taj Mahal

Alcantara, Jose David
Heneghan, Daniel
Hollingsworth, Pierre
McCullough, James “Sonny”
Perskie, Steven
Ricci, Dennis
Sodha, Jay
Tjoumakaris, Paul
Whelan, Jim

Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era

Related Materials:
The Alfred M. Heston Collection houses other oral history collections related to Atlantic City and its residents. These collections are:

Local History Biography Files include information, such as newspaper clippings and photographs, about some of the interviewees and the people to whom they refer in the interviews. Local History Subject Files include information about the subjects to which they refer in the interviews. Also check the Library Catalog for other biographies of Atlantic City residents and people with connections to Atlantic City.

Processing Note: The collection is processed. Finding aid written by Heather Halpin Pérez, archivist, December 2009.

Copyright Notice: The Atlantic City Free Public Library shares the copy and reproduction rights for most of the oral history interviews with Dr. Karmel. Please consult with ACFPL Heston Collection staff before copying or duplicating any materials from this collection.


Narrators are listed alphabetically. A brief biographical description and description of interview content is also included, along with the date of the interview and the availability of audio (and length of the interview), transcript, or photographs.

  1. Restricted.
  2. Alcantara, José David. Born in Honduras. Atlantic City resident since 1969. Lawyer. (1 March 2005; audio, 1:08:34; transcript; photograph)
  3. Restricted.
  4. Centeno, Asunción José. Born in Nicaragua. Atlantic City resident since 1988. Works for Tropicana. (17 June 2003; audio, 12:24; transcript)
  5. Cohen, Al. (12 August 2002, no audio, no transcript)
  6. DeBasilio, Carmen. Born in Dominican Republic. Housekeeper at Ceasers since 2000. Has a child still living in Dominican Republic. (17 June 2003; audio, 8:57; transcript; photograph)
  7. Devlin, Barbara. From New Jersey. Representative for Local 54 union. (21 June 2002; no audio; transcript)
  8. Restricted.
  9. Gandhi, Rashmika M. Born in India (Gujarat). 39 years old. Came to Atlantic City in 2002. Has Bachelor of Science degree. Cashier at Bally’s. (4 November 2002; no audio; transcript)
  10. Gitto, Thomas. Born in Atlantic City. Poker manager at Taj Mahal. (16 June 2005; audio, 58:55; transcript; photograph)
  11. Gómez, Isaias. Born in Colombia. Lives in Pleasantville. Owns a shipping business since 1998. (10 Aug 2005; audio, 1:22:50; transcript; photograph)
  12. Guzman, Luis. Born in Puerto Rico. Works for the City of Atlantic City. (13 June 2005; audio, 36:30; transcript)
  13. Hall, Edna. Born and raised in Atlantic City. (20 April 2005; audio, 1:12:37; transcript; photograph)
  14. Heneghan, Daniel. Born in New Jersey. Public information officer for the Casino Control Commission. (4 March and 31 March 2005; audio, 2:18:57 and 1:06:48; transcript)
  15. Hollingsworth, Pierre. Born and raised in Atlantic City. City firefighter from 1956. Discusses segregation in Atlantic City and his involvement with NAACP and civil rights. Also the campaign for casino gambling and his work as City Commissioner. (30 April 2005; audio, 1:10:19; transcript; photograph) *Note: Mr. Hollingsworth was also included in Dorothy J. Beatty "Black History of Atlantic City" Oral History Project (H057).
  16. Jahan, Selina. Born in Bangladesh. Laid off in 2004 and out of work. (28 June 2005; audio, 35:16; transcript; photographs)
  17. Lopez, Marta. Born in Puerto Rico. Works for Spanish Community Center. Speaks about Latino immigrants’ experiences in Atlantic City. (16 May 2003; audio, 33:33; transcript; photograph)
  18. López, Richard. Born in Puerto Rico. Works for City of Atlantic City. (17 May 2005; audio, 1:17:10; transcript; photograph)
  19. Loung, Liem. Born in Vietnam. Works at Taj Mahal. (1 August 2005; audio, 19:36; transcript; photograph)
  20. Manik, Mohammed. Born in Bangladesh. Cook at Bally’s. (21 June 2005; audio, 23:23; transcript; photograph)
  21. McCullough, James "Sonny." Mayor of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Part of legalization of gambling committee. Also discusses Pinelands, taxes, and controversy. (26 May 2005; audio, 47:14; transcript; photograph)
  22. Momperousse, Hilda Mayra. Born in Dominican Republic. Works at Nueva Imagen Hair Salon. (21 June 2005; audio, 29:28; transcript; photographs)
  23. Momperousse, Orfelina. Born in Dominican Republic. Worked at Showboat until 1996. Retired. (24 August 2005; audio, 21:49; transcript; photographs)
  24. Ngo, Lien. Born in North Vietnam. Housekeeper at casino. (1 August 2005; audio, 31:18; transcript; photograph)
  25. Ngo, Thu. (interviewed with Peter Pham). Born in North Vietnam. Spent 10 years in North Vietnamese jail. About 60 years old. Busperson. (1 August 2005, audio, 54:23; transcript; photograph)
  26. Restricted.
  27. Restricted.
  28. Osorno, Aura Sprague. Born in Nicaragua. Works for casinos. Arrived in US illegally, but now is a US citizen. Speaks about the career ladder in the casinos.  (1 July 2003; audio, 50:22; transcript; photograph)
  29. Patel, Chittu. Born in India (Gujarat). 63 years old. Works at casino. (4 November 2002, no audio; transcript)
  30. Restricted.
  31. Restricted.
  32. Patel, Pankaj. Born in India (Gujarat). Came to the US in 1996. Worked at Trump Plaza, Bally’s Wild West, Caesar’s. Works at Tropicana in restaurant as busperson and greeter. (17 June 2003; audio, 27:58; no transcript; photograph)
  33. Patterson, Russelle. Born in New York City. Moved to Atlantic City in 1973. (19 June 2002; no audio; transcript) *Note: Ms. Patterson was also interviewed for the “30 Years, 30 Voices” Atlantic City Free Public Library Oral History Project, 2008 (H064).
  34. Perez, Felix. Born in Dominican Republic. 29 years old. Promoted into Cook position. (1 July 2003; audio, 10:18; transcript)
  35. Perskie, Steven. From New Jersey. Judge. Key figure in campaign for gambling legalization. (14 May 2005; audio, 1:44:02; transcript; photograph)
  36. Pham, Peter. (interviewed with Thu Ngo). Born in North Vietnam. 60 years old. Busperson. (1 August 2005; audio, 54:23, CD2; transcript; photograph)
  37. Prado, Luz. Born in Colombia. 26 years old. Went to school to learn to deal blackjack. (18 May 2005; audio, 21:43; transcript; photograph)
  38. Ricci, Dennis. From Atlantic City. Works for Atlantic City Housing Authority. Discusses casino legalization aftermath. (14 April and 25 April 2005; 34:21 and 51:36; transcript)
  39. Ruffolo, Robert. From Atlantic City. Owns Princeton Antiques and Books. Atlantic City historian. (March 2005; audio, 1:20:06; transcript)
  40. Sodha, Jay. Born in Uganda. Came to the United States in 1975 and to Atlantic City in 1997. Works at Tropicana.  (1 July 2003; audio, 34:01; transcript; photograph)
  41. Stuart, Nanette. From Egg Harbor Township. 41 years old. Veteran educator. (6 June 2005; audio, 1:00:55; transcript)
  42. Tjoumakaris, Paul. Born in Greece. Came to Philadelphia in 1958 when 12 years old. Vice President of Slots at Borgata. (18 June 2005; audio, 1:42:05; transcript; photograph)
  43. Tran, Cathanina. Born in Vietnam in 1972 and fled. Substitute teacher. Husband is a professor. (7 June 2005; audio, 1:03:20; transcript; photograph)
  44. Velazco, Rosa. Born in Cuba. Came to US in 1980. Works at Caesar’s. (17 June 2003; audio, 37:49; transcript; photograph)
  45. Wills, Libbie. Neighborhood activist and long-time resident of Atlantic City. (11 April 2005; audio, 37:39; transcript)
  46. Whelan, James. Born in Philadelphia, spent summers in Atlantic City. Former mayor of Atlantic City (1990-2001). Discusses political party affiliations, swimming, casino impact on Atlantic City. (6 Apr 2006, audio, 1:38:56, CD3; digital and paper transcript)

Published 15 December 2009.