February 2014
Intern Coco Wilder, along with staff members Jaycie Vos and Rachel Seidman, welcomed dozens of visitors to our booth at the TedXUNC event on February 15.  Visitors could listen to audio clips and browse our database on iPads, and view the Mapping the Long Women's Movement project on a large screen display.
Field Notes
Stories from the Southern Oral History Program

Director's Note

One of SOHP's best-kept secrets is our undergraduate teaching. Every semester, our ongoing research inspires curiosity among the next generation of leaders. We instruct them about fundamental values of our society, especially the value of civic participation, the importance of leadership, and the role of service in creating a more equal world. We challenge them to use the knowledge they gain to create collaborative solutions for our global society's most pressing problems. We also give students diverse opportunities to conduct research and engage with communities themselves. In our program, they hone critical skills, such as oral expression and critical analysis, that will improve their career prospects in whatever profession they choose.


Founding Director Jacquelyn Dowd Hall created the cornerstone of this program, SOHP's "Introduction to Oral History" class  which has been taught almost every year since 1974 to both graduate students and undergraduates. Students' work in the course has launched major SOHP research initiatives including the Piedmont Industrialization  and the Long Civil Rights Movement projects. With the inspired pedagogy of SOHP Interim Director Della Pollack, performance has become a key component of the course. Students interpret the interviews they've gathered for an audience that often includes the people they interviewed. It's difficult to imagine a more high-pressure situation! And yet our students rise to the occasion every time.


Dr. Hall's oral history class has generated exciting opportunities that are becoming permanent fixtures of UNC's teaching landscape. In Spring 2014 we are hosting our fourth semester of the undergraduate internship program, which features collaborative research alongside cultivating administrative and engagement skills. This semester students are conducting research on the history of lesbian and gay activism at UNC and furthering SOHP's communications, archival collections, public outreach, and campus initiatives. Associate Director Rachel Seidman is advising an Honors course taught by undergraduate alumnae of the internship program; the course is called "Oral History and the Legacy of the Public University."  Former interns have also created a new student organization, Students Engaging In Oral History; it is currently planning the "100 Counties" project, which encourages students to interview UNC alumni from their home North Carolina county. The entrepreneurship of UNC's undergrads shines when they engage with the SOHP.


This semester, SOHP Field Scholars and staff are conducting half a dozen oral history "how-to" workshops for courses in History, Anthropology, and English that instruct in every aspect of oral history work, including determining research topics, hands-on interview techniques, and archival preservation practices. We also participated in the landmark TEDxUNC event on February 15, organized by UNC students, where we showcased the stories in our collections, our digital projects, and our teaching and community engagement initiatives. We are launching a multi-year collaboration with the Carolina Women's Center to host the  Moxie Project, which, thanks to the generous support of the Provost's Office and private donors, offers students paid summer internships where they work in grassroots organizations and conduct oral histories to grapple with important questions of equity, civil rights, and gender.


Dedicated staff and students at SOHP work together to integrate undergraduates into UNC's research and teaching mission. We do this by listening and working alongside students and faculty to meet their needs and as we do so, we fulfill the commitment of the public university. And it all started with one class.




--Malinda Maynor Lowery 


Research Report: Media and the Movement Project

This year, Media and the Movement: Journalism, Civil Rights, and Black Power in the American South enters its final phase. The project, fully funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is exploring the intersections between activism and journalism in our region during and after the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The civil rights movement, for all its national impact, has been described by historians as being about "local people." Its success as a nationwide effort relied on local activists in communities from Oakland to Albany, Georgia, who had lived through racial segregation and subjugation and had the knowledge to affect change, whether in cooperation with so-called outside agitators, or on their own.

If the civil rights and Black Power movements were indeed local, what better way to explore its impact than through local journalism? Local journalism thrived in the South after major media turned its attention to Vietnam and Watergate, and many local journalists took on their roles still inspired by the civil rights movement. This activist energy led to the creation of two pioneering public radio stations: WVSP, in Warrenton, North Carolina and WAFR, in Durham.

WVSP's founders launched the station as a vehicle for community development and justice work, engaging their community by giving volunteers the chance to host their own programs, airing educational programming, and playing jazz and blues not often heard on commercial radio in the 1970s.

Upon its founding in 1971, Durham's WAFR became the nation's first public, community-based black radio station. It catered to Durham's black listeners with politically engaged, Black Power programming that included jazz, funk, African music, selected local and national news, and even an African American take on Sesame Street's Children's Radio Workshop, called the Community Radio Workshop.

These radio stations inspired Media and the Movement, which has expanded with interviews with activists and journalists at a number of influential newspapers and radio stations, including The Independent Weekly, Southern Exposure, The Protean Radish, The North Carolina Anvil, and the Chatham County Herald; radio stations like Asheville's WBMU and Chadbourn's WVOE; and prominent activists and regular newsmakers such as Lew Myers and Howard Fuller.

Please check us out at mediaandthemovement.unc.edu and look for our interviews to become public later this year.


Field Scholar Spotlight:  Rob Shapard
Rob Shapard to Present at Global American South Conference


Field scholar and U.S. History Ph.D. candidate Rob Shapard will present at the Global American South Conference this Saturday. The conference's theme this year is "Cities, Rivers, and Cultures of Change: Water and the Global Environment." Rob will be presenting "Protecting the Diversity of Life: An Encounter with E.O. Wilson," about the famed environmentalist and scholar whom he recently interviewed.


We are lucky to have Rob here for a second year at the SOHP. Rob was born in Griffin, Georgia and received his undergraduate degree in history from Williams College in Massachusetts. Upon graduation, Rob worked for the magazine American City and County for several years before becoming a newspaper reporter with The Herald Sun. Reporting in the Chapel Hill and Hillsborough bureaus, Rob acquired a love for meeting others and hearing their personal stories. Rob held his position at the Sun for nine years before returning to graduate school at North Carolina State University, where he earned a masters degree in United States History. 


Having moved from Wolfpack to Tar Heel territory, Rob is now in his last year of doctoral work here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rob's scholarly interests lie in environmental history, and his dissertation centers on the long-leaf pine and its gradual depletion across the South.

Rob combines his love of history and personal stories as a field at the SOHP. Through his interviews, Rob can pursue much deeper historical questions than he was able to through his daily articles as a reporter for The Herald Sun. This unique characteristic of oral histories-learning a person's life story for hours at a time-drew him to the Southern Oral History Program. Upon finishing his doctoral work, Rob hopes to continue oral history research while working as a professor. On a personal note, Rob is a happily married man of eighteen years to his wife Sarah and they have two girls, Ella, and Samantha. 
--Katie Crook, SOHP Communications Intern


Spring 2014 Interns Continue Work on Gay & Lesbian Activism at UNC in 1970s

Building on the work of last semester's interns on the Sexual Revolution at UNC in the 1970s, this semester our new crop of interns are focusing their interviews on gay and lesbian activism at UNC during that decade.  


Katie Crook, a junior political science and history double major, is our Communications intern this semester. Katie regularly updates the SOHP website, as well as the SOHP's twitter and Facebook pages. In addition, she manages and writes blogs and news items for the SOHP webpage. For her upcoming oral history interviews, Katie is interested in the complicated relationship between religion and homosexuality. She will be exploring this topic, especially the advent of the "Religious Right" in the 1980s, in her interviews this semester.


Coco Wilder is working with the campus club Students Engaging in Oral History, founded by previous SOHP interns, to foster interest in oral history among undergraduates. This includes planning methodological and technical workshops, as well as leading a student project called "100 Counties," which encourages students to interview alumni from their home county in North Carolina. She is also working on the SOHP 40th Anniversary project to create an audio tour of campus activism. Her research interest lies in intersectional queer and feminist activism on the UNC campus.  See Coco's new blog post on our website!


Turner Henderson's job as Collections Intern at SOHP is to mine the database for compelling interviews to post on the "Featured Interviews" page of the website. In addition, he is creating clips of intriguing interviews for the 40th Anniversary celebration. For his own oral research this semester, he will look at interaction between the black student movement and the Carolina Gay Association.


As the Support Intern at the SOHP, Aaron Hayworth has been spending a lot of time organizing for the 40th Anniversary celebration.  He is also interested in conducting oral histories with those involved with the gay student publication Lambda. Aaron hopes to learn how contributors and readers negotiated their position with the gay community in Chapel Hill publicly and privately. 


Thank you to these interns for their important work, and we look forward to working with them this semester! 


More Details on our 40th Anniversary Celebration
We're celebrating our 40th Anniversary! If you are in town, join us at Wilson Library on April 4th, 2014. In addition to the student performances, an exhibit opening about SOHP's history, and an audio tour of student activism on campus, we'll also have a panel discussion featuring Founding Director Jacquelyn Hall, former Field Scholar Jessica Wilkerson, and two of our interviewees, talking about the significance of oral history.  The exhibit and audio tours will begin at 1:00, and the performances and panel discussion will start at 3:00.  There will be a reception at 5:00. 

News from our Friends (send in yours!)

SOHP alum Tracy K'Meyer recently published From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954-2007 with UNC Press. Winner of the 2014 Samuel W. Thomas Book Award by the Louisville Historical Society, her work uses oral histories to draw attention to the struggles in desegregation, integration, busing reforms, and social justice over five decades.


The success of the SOHP has depended on the talented graduate students and independent scholars who have been touched by and dedicated themselves to its work and whose subsequent careers have forwarded its mission of scholarship, teaching, and public engagement. We are working to compile a list of works that have, in some way, come out of our body of oral histories. Tracy K'Meyer's latest book is but one example; if you have used our oral histories in your own work, we would love to hear about it! Please let us know using the contact information on our website.


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Southern Oral History Program, Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, CB 9127,  410 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9127