Field Notes
Spring 2017
From the Director
I am thrilled to be back in the Love House as Director of the Southern Oral History Program, after a three-semester research and study assignment. I am also grateful for the folks who continued to steer SOHP so capably in my absence, especially Renee Alexander Craft (Acting Director 2015-2016), Rachel Seidman (Acting Director, Fall 2016), Jaycie Vos, Rachel Olsen, and our field scholars. The community at the Center for the Study of the American South continues to be supportive and stimulating. As we accelerate toward the end of the semester, I am reminded of my fortunate surroundings, working with such collegial and passionate people who bring an unmatched level of professionalism to their work.
During my leave, I worked to finish a book, The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle, which is a three hundred year survey of Lumbee history for a general audience. The book has shaped itself around questions fundamental to oral history and particularly to SOHP's work-how people pursue justice and determine their own futures. But when we see U.S. history through the perspectives of Native nations, we see that the United States is not only on a quest to expand rights for individuals. Surviving Native nations like the Lumbees, who have their own unique claims on this land and its ruling government, are forcing Americans to confront the ways in which their founding principles are flawed and inadequate. We know the forced removals, the massacres, the protests that Native people have lodged against injustice, yet such knowledge is not sufficient to understand American history. Lumbee history provides a way to honor, and complicate, American history by focusing not just on the dispossession and injustice visited upon Native people, but on how and why Native survival matters. Native nations are doing the same work as the American nation-reconstituting communities, thriving, and finding a shared identity to achieve justice and self-determination. The book is under advanced contract with UNC Press, and I hope it will appear in print in the fall of 2018.
This time away has afforded me some perspective on why we do collaborative research at SOHP, in companion to the kind of individually-driven research that historians typically publish. The Lumbee story fundamentally revolves around collaboration, around many people working in a group's interest, balancing that work with individuals pursuing their own goals. Collaboration is the work of history. The people of SOHP steward this ethic, providing a place to begin reflection, recharge, and change.

--Malinda Maynor Lowery

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Fund Ready to Support Graduate Student Research This Summer

Thanks to Jacquelyn Dowd Hall and Bob Korstad, who made a generous additional gift to the Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Fund beyond our original endowment goal, we are able to start supporting a graduate student's research this summer.

UNC graduate students who have taken History 670, Introduction to Oral History, are eligible to apply for this new $4,000 summer stipend by sending a CV and a 2-page research proposal to Associate Director Rachel Seidman at  Deadline for proposals is March 31 and the award will be announced by April 15.  

SOHP Launching Exciting New Program for K12 Teachers: Carolina Oral History Teaching Fellows 

We are thrilled to be partnering with Carolina K12 to launch an exciting new venture:  a summer fellowship for North Carolina's secondary school teachers.

We know that oral histories can enliven K12 classrooms, helping students connect to a history that might otherwise seem "long ago and far away."  We know that SOHP has a treasure trove of voices that can help young people think about history in a whole new way, and develop their critical thinking skills.  But we also know that teachers don't always have the time or the skills to make use of our database.  We have been working hard to find ways to make our resources more user friendly, through the digital exhibits, playlists, and the K12 map. Now we are reaching out to teachers themselves and offering them a chance to immerse themselves in oral history and develop their professional and pedagogical skills in order to utilize these sources--and help us create new ones--for their classrooms.  
We will be piloting the Carolina Oral History Teaching Fellows program this summer with 15 teachers chosen from (an already growing!) pool of applicants from around the state.  This year our focus will be on the Civil Rights Movement.  The teachers will come to campus June 19-21 and spend their days learning about cutting-edge approaches to Civil Rights history and in-depth workshops on using SOHP's resources and oral history approaches. They will then return home for three weeks, with the assignment to do research in our database, find "teaching gems," create their own playlists of clips, and develop lesson plans around them.  They will then return to campus on July 26 to share these new resources with each other.  Their playlists and lesson plans will be made available to other teachers around the state via SOHP and Carolina K12.  

We are grateful to Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities, Terry Rhodes, for her support of this project, as well as the Graduate School, and the Caroliniana Society.  Our goal is develop this into an ongoing, annual program, with a different topical focus each year, that will help us build a cohort of teachers around the state who can share the love of oral history with their students.  SOHP looks forward to contributing in this way to the education of our youngest citizens and to the mission of the University to serve North Carolina's people. 
Welcome to New Field Scholar Josh Akers and Spring Semester Interns

We were sad to lose Kimber Thomas, who got a wonderful fellowship to focus on her dissertation research in Mississippi, but we are delighted to welcome Joshua Akers, History Ph.D. student whose work focuses on the culture Viet Nam war soldiers. He is leading the internship program for us this semester and his expertise is a perfect fit for helping the interns with their veterans project.  
Our new Spring undergraduate interns are here, and they've been hard at work so far! Lauren McCoppin (First Year, English major), Sophie Rupp (Junior, History and Jewish Studies major), Cason Whitecomb (Senior, Public Policy major) and Xinyun Wu (First Year) are continuing last semester's focus on veterans.  They have conducted three oral history interviews with veterans and are currently searching for more veterans to talk to.  The interns have found veterans through personal acquaintances, connections with military literature classes and veterans' organizations. Cason is focusing on veterans who are also members of the LGTBQ+ community, while Lauren focuses on student veterans' experience.  To prepare for their interviews they studied interview tactics and military culture with  Josh.  Class discussions have focused on the experiences of student veterans in their transitions back to civilian life, brotherhood and other cultural norms within the military.  

Beside weekly seminars the interns have been completing individual "beat work" and contributing to existing projects.  Their main job is to "mine the archives" and find clips for existing projects, to feature in SOHP's podcast or on the website.  Two interns crafted a Valentine's Day feature which is available on the SOHP website right now.  The interns are having fun discovering all the stories the archives have to offer and picking up interview techniques from listening to so many interviews.  

The culmination of their work in the archives and their own interviews will be a performance at the end of semester at Love House.  Stay tuned for more information! 

To keep up with the interns follow their twitter @SOHPinterns and be on the lookout for more of their work featured on

University History Field Scholar Charlotte Fryar Collecting Interviews on Founding of Sonja Haynes Stone Center 

On Monday, February 27th, a group of UNC-Chapel Hill students held a candlelight vigil in honor of Wilson Caldwell, an enslaved man at the University prior to the Civil War, and later, during Reconstruction, a justice of the peace in Orange County and educational leader in Chapel Hill's Black communities. The students' purpose is "to create a day in which UNC takes responsibility for its transgressions and memorializes the enslaved population that worked on this campus." This movement for the establishment of a yearly Wilson Caldwell Day is part of a larger movement, cultivated by generations of students at UNC, who have organized to address the ways in which UNC-Chapel Hill's leadership has fallen short of reconciling with the racialized foundations the University is built on.

This year at the SOHP University History Field Scholar Charlotte Fryar has been at work trying to understand one of these previous iterations of racial justice student activism, which led to the creation and construction of a free-standing building for the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture & History . The construction of the free-standing Stone Center was an incredibly significant moment in student-led activism on UNC's campus. In interviewing alumni who were active in the movement for a free-standing Stone Center in the early 1990s, Fryar says, "I hear again and again interviewees harken to our contemporary moment of activism, discussing the ways in which the University's leadership could acknowledge the University's intimate history with slavery, segregation, and exclusion. It is my hope that these interviews with alumni-activists can help to clarify for both current students and administrators what is at stake in addressing University history and how to reconcile with that history in order to act justly for all members of the UNC community, in the past and in the future." 

Press Record Features Back Ways Project, Continues to Attract New Listeners

Last May, field scholar Carol Prince stepped into the producer role of the SOHP's then new podcast, Press Record. We have covered an array of topics since the first episode in January of 2016 and received around 4,800 downloads in total. 

Carol says "Putting each episode together has pushed me to think more imaginatively about how to convey the SOHP's work to a broader audience. For example, the podcast can place oral histories from our database collected in different decades in conversation with each other and ask fresh questions about continuity and change. Additionally, Press Record can and has featured oral historians, student interns, and community activists who speak to the relevance of these oral history interviews. As a graduate student in history, producing this podcast has been an incredible opportunity to both think historically in a new way and engage the public about why oral history matters."  
We just released Episode 12, which revisits the Backways project here at the SOHP through a conversation between Carol and fellow field scholar Rachel Cotterman. In the  evocative new episode they talk about silences in the archives, the legacy of Jim Crow in North Carolina, and what it means to do a research project close to home. Be sure to check it out! 

Last month, we released an episode that tackles oral history and the ERA, which featured audio from the women's march and excerpts from seven different women talking about what the Equal Rights Amendment meant to them. Be sure to check out Press Record's website  and listen to us on SoundCloud  here . Check out our  Facebook page  and make sure to subscribe and rate us on  iTunes  here !

Women's Leadership added to Map for K12 Educators 
We are excited to announce the launch of the next layer of our Mapping Voices of North Carolina's Past: A Resource for Teachers, an interactive map featuring short clips from oral history interviews with people from North Carolina's past, as well as links to the full interview. This new layer "Women's Leadership," features interviews with activists and political leaders including Civil Rights and women's rights activist Pauli Murray and Isabella Cannon, former mayor of Raleigh.  The map is designed for k-12 teachers to help their students experience history through the voices of those who lived it.  Recently, Associate Director Rachel Seidman was joined by Christoph Stutts, former teacher and currently a Ph.D. student in UNC's School of Education, in Greensboro at the state conference for social studies teachers, where they introduced the map to a group of enthusiastic teachers.  But, you don't need to be a student or teacher to enjoy the map! Check out the new layer, and look for more layers on World War II, immigration, and industrialization this summer.

Digital Exhibits Highlight Interviews for Wide Audiences

We have been adding to our digital exhibits and experimenting with them as a way to share our archives with new audiences.  Field Scholar Rachel Cotterman recently finished a new one on our collection of interviews about electrification of the rural South; you can check it out here.  She is also working on a new exhibit about Harvey's Chapel Road, part of her research for the Back Ways Project, and that will be available later this spring.  You can here about her fascinating progress on that project in our most recent podcast episode.  

Dozens of Interviews Newly Available Online

So far this spring, we've added dozens of interviews to our collection, new and old - some dating to 1982! Together, they explore ideas of inclusion and exclusion, change, adversity, community, and growth. This includes a set of interviews  conducted in 2014 by former field scholar Katie Womble with some of the first women faculty at Carolina, building upon the   University Faculty and Diversity, 1960-1990 series  SOHP conducted in 2007-2008 to coincide with the Assocation of Women Faculty and Professionals' 30th anniversary.  We've also added the interviews former field scholar Darius Scott conducted in 2015 for the   Back Ways project about segregation and life in rural North Carolina. Finally, we are delighted to share a set of 26 interviews conducted in 1982 about  West Southern Pines, which was incorporated as its own, predominantly black township in the 1920s. West Southern Pines was annexed back into Southern Pines in the 1930s, but the interviews with both black and white residents attest to the longevity of the West Southern Pines community. These interviews were donated by interviewer Nancy Mason, and the transcripts were originally published in her book Oral History of West Southern Pines, North Carolina in 1987. Now the audio and transcripts are both available, in digital form, online in our database, and we hope you'll dig in!

Southern Oral History Program  |  Center for the Study of the American South 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  |  410 E. Franklin Street  |  Chapel Hill, NC 27514
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