September 2014
As part of our focus on Women's Leadership this year, SOHP interns are studying women's activism at UNC  Chapel Hill in the 1960s-1980s.  
Field Notes
Stories from the Southern Oral History Program

Director's Note

When I think of women who lead, my thoughts turn immediately to SOHP's founding director, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. There is no better way to launch a year of focus on women's leadership than by honoring her. On September 20 we are hosting over 100 guests in Chapel Hill to celebrate Jacquelyn as she retires as the Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History. The day will include four panel discussions, with themes such as activism, gender and labor history, and civil rights history. And in honor of Jacquelyn's love of laughter and good times, we are also hosting a dinnertime reception. Over sixty of her former students are attending, many from places across the country, along with a bevy of local admirers.


Her reputation as a curious and determined scholar is well-known, and her accomplishments are legion. So I will tell you something I didn't know about Jacquelyn until recently. She is from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, which I learned when we attended the 2013 Oral History Association meeting in Oklahoma City. We were having dinner with two other remarkable women, SOHP's Interim Director Della Pollack and our Associate Director Rachel Seidman, at one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the state. The place was run by an Italian family who had immigrated in the 19th century to Krebs, OK, a coal mining town in what used to be the Choctaw Nation. As soon as I made the connection to Choctaw history, Jacquelyn began telling me all that she had learned about her mother's friend, who had been Chickasaw (Pauls Valley is in the former Chickasaw Nation). Jacquelyn told stories and asked questions, she listened to what I knew of Chickasaw history and offered her own insights in return. The four of us were not only enjoying each other's company, we were exchanging gifts, stories about the women who, without accolades or recognition, had made a difference in our lives.


As we look more closely at women's leadership, we find that Jacquelyn's ability to give may be unique in how she applies that characteristic, but it is a quality shared by women leaders everywhere. And most importantly, giving often and freely means that everyone prospers. At SOHP, we are so fortunate to receive gifts, not just from Jacquelyn, but from her friends, students, colleagues, and other people she has touched. This weekend's festivities are the result of almost a year of focused work by Rachel Seidman and Rachel Olsen (SOHP's Administrate Support Associate), as well as Natalie Fousekis (Director of the Center for Oral and Public History at CSU-Fullerton) and Blain Roberts (Associate Professor of History at Fresno State University). We are also grateful for generous gifts from Robert Conrad, Flora Lewis, and the Harold and Dorothy Bean Conrad Oral History Fund, as well as the Department of History at UNC. Our celebration proves that Jacquelyn's many years of giving generates more giving. If there is one legacy of hers that is most important to me, it is her astonishing ability to give, generously and without thought of return. 


Thank you, Jacquelyn.



--Malinda Maynor Lowery


SOHP Interns Mine the Archives for Oral History Gems
Grace Harvey (Left) and Megan Cross are "mining" the SOHP archives for clips to play at the NC Women's Summit

The Southern Oral History Program interns are hard at work in support of the North Carolina Women's Summit. Grace Harvey and Megan Cross have spent the better part of the semester searching the SOHP archive to find interview clips that highlight feminist activism in the areas of women's health, economic security, and public education. The best of these interview excerpts will be played at the Summit for the audience of hundreds of participants from around the state. They will help illustrate SOHP's commitment to connecting history to current public policy debates, and spotlight our research and its relevance to the present.

Many thanks to the interns for their hard work in "mining the archives."

Follow Our Progress on the New Back Ways Blog 
Ray Family Cemetery on what is now the property of Peter Kramer in Rural Hillsborough, NC
The Back Ways Project (formerly called The Black Roads Project) has a new blog.  Follow the winding path of this exciting new research endeavor and let us know what you think!

Digging into the Past:  A Tale of Two Approaches

Communications Intern David Yarrow and Field Scholar Taylor Livingston investigated the source of the noise outside the workroom windows last month.  David filed this report and his reflections on the relationship between what they found and his recent introduction to oral history.


During the final two weeks of August, sounds other than the mellifluous playback of interviews danced around the Love House and Hutchins Forum. In between the Love House and UNC system President Tom Ross's home, university archeologists conducted an excavation of the foundation of the second president of the University of North Carolina's home.


The dig determined the precise location of the house and the mode of construction of the foundation, and researchers hope to find more evidence of the lifestyles of University Presidents Joseph Caldwell and David Swain. They are focusing on uncovering the large basement used by both men to entertain guests. Described in oral and written accounts as a formal dining space in which President James K. Polk dined with University President Swain, the basement's true characteristics fascinate researchers as they evaluate the discrepancies between the written and oral tradition, and the formal structure.


The juxtaposition of the dig against the Love House focuses attention on two unique ways to gain insight into the past. Whereas archeologists search for physical evidence of past events, oral historians evaluate the efficacy of the stories we tell about ourselves. The synthesis of both methods of conducting historical inquiry results in a more complete image of past events. Even on the dig site, the mixing of the two styles occurs site as archeologists retell the story of Swain's daughter Eleanor falling in love with Union General Smith B. Atkins in 1865, much to the chagrin of her parents.


Although the dig's lifespan is limited due to planned construction, the progress already made hints at the stories still to be uncovered.



--David Farrow, Communications intern

Jocelyn Frye to Keynote the NC Women's Summit 
Jocelyn Frye is Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.  Picture credit
Tickets are going fast for the NC Women's Summit; be sure to get yours today! 

We are excited to announce that the keynote address will be by Joceyln Frye, Senior 

Fellow at American Progress, where her work focuses on a wide range of women's issues, including work-family balance, pay equity, and women's leadership.


Prior to joining American Progress, Frye served for four years as Deputy Assistant to President Obama and Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady.

SOHP is a proud co-sponsor of the 2nd Annual North Carolina Women's Summit. This year's summit, "Connecting Communities, Creating Change," will be held at North Carolina State University on September 26. Join us for a day of critical thinking, leadership training, and stories from our state's most powerful women. 


Your ticket includes breakfast, three panel discussions featuring feminist scholars and experts from non-profit organizations, lunch, and a keynote address.


Register here!


Building an Oral History Bookshelf

What's on your oral history bookshelf?  

We're compiling a list of favorite oral history books and articles.  Send us your nominations and let us know if they use any SOHP interviews.  

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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