Field Notes
Fall 2017
Director's Welcome

I'm delighted to be writing to you as Director of the Southern Oral History Program.  I've occupied this role since July 1, and although routinely aware of the big shoes I'm trying to fill, I am thoroughly enjoying myself.  I hope you will find evidence in this newsletter of our continued dedication to collecting, preserving, and sharing the amazing voices of people who have lived through change in the South, from whom we have so much to learn.  It is my great honor to build on the SOHP's long legacy, and to nurture new projects, approaches, and partnerships that will fulfill our mission in exciting new ways.  

I am very lucky to have taken over the reins at this moment in time.  SOHP, along with the Center for the Study of the. American South, is poised for a great new era of growth. SOHP's former director, Malinda Maynor Lowery, is now directing CSAS with her special brand of creativity, care and skill. I am deeply grateful for the generosity of our donors, including two recent major gifts from the Plambeck and Vogel families (see below). 

I am thrilled to welcome Sara Wood on board as our new Project Manager.  Sara brings energy, creativity, skills and contacts that are already enriching our program.  You can learn more about her below, and I'm sure that, like I, you will enjoy getting to know her over the coming months and years.

Our partnership with Dr. Ross Simpson of the SUDDEN Project at UNC's school of medicine and Paul Mihas of the Odum Center for Social Science Research continues to unfold. Taylor Livingston has been overseeing a small team of graduate and undergraduate students who are inventorying our archives, looking for interviews that cover issues of health, illness, and medicine.  Dr. Simpson has been particularly impressed by the examples of interviewees discussing the impact of sudden deaths on surviving family members. Our efforts to do truly interdisciplinary work has been so fascinating to all of us that we are starting a new blog about our experience.  Look for the Stories to Save Lives blog coming soon. I see this work on health and medicine as the seed of a new research and collecting emphasis for SOHP that I look forward to further developing.  

My favorite thing about working at the Southern Oral History Program in the Center for the Study of the American South is being surrounded by such smart, engaged, fun people.  A whole new cohort of graduate field scholars, undergraduate interns and work study students have joined us this fall, and they are doing fantastic work. I benefit from their contributions every day. My colleagues here at CSAS continue to produce excellence--whether in the journal Southern Cultures (if you haven't already checked out this fabulous resource for top notch, accessible scholarship, poetry, essays, and art, you really should), or in events like the upcoming Confederate Monuments in the Public Square on October 10. SOHP is proud to contribute to the important work the center does.

Thank you for your continued interest in and commitment to the Southern Oral History Program.  I look forward to hearing any feedback or ideas you'd like to share with me!  For those of you who will be at the Oral History Association annual conference in Minneapolis, I hope to see you there.  I have had the great honor of co-chairing this year's program with my colleague Dan Kerr from American University, and we are excited to see our plans materialize.  

All my best,

Sara Wood Joins SOHP as Project Manager

Sara Wood joins SOHP after having traveled the American South collecting stories of the region's diverse cultures as the oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance, based at the University of Mississippi. She's produced stories for National Public Radio and sound installations for museums and cultural sites such as the Whitney, the New York Public Library, and the National Park Service.

"I'm thrilled to join the Southern Oral History Program and the Center for the Study of the American South," Wood says.  "I have long admired the great and important work that the program has put out into the world, and I look forward to helping to guide the program into the future and seeing it thrive."

We are so grateful for Sara's expertise and we feel lucky to have her on our team.

Two Major Gifts Support Student Work at SOHP 

We are profoundly grateful for two major gifts to the Southern Oral History Program, the largest gifts from private donors in recent history.  The Plambeck Family Fund, donated by Charles and Suzanne Plambeck, and the Southern Oral History Program Enrichment Fund, provided by J. Vann and Jennifer Vogel, will support undergraduate research and internship experiences at the SOHP. Their generosity allows us to tap into the creativity and energy of undergraduate students and support their enthusiasm for oral history research. Our first paid summer undergraduate interns, Olivia Linn, Sydney Lopez, and Lauren McCoppin were the beneficiaries of this generosity and SOHP reaped the rewards in the great work they produced (see below). We look forward to sharing many more such projects with you in the coming years, thanks to our generous donors.

Students produce new digital exhibit and audio documentary on the 1969 Food Workers' Strike 

Undergraduate summer interns Sydney Lopez and Liv Linn, with help from Lauren McCoppin, produced remarkable new work during their time at the Southern Oral History Program.  Convinced that current activists could benefit from understanding the history of the 1969 Food Workers' Strike at UNC, they created a new digital exhibit that includes oral histories, archival sources, and mapping technology. They also produced an audio documentary titled The Ladies of the Pine Room.  Be sure to visit both and share.  

Exhibit Features Story Quilts of North Carolina Native American Veterans

The SOHP proudly collaborated with CSAS to help bring to life the exhibit "From Isolation to War:: Native American Veteran Story Quilts."   Native American quilters interviewed veterans from  each of North Carolina's eight state- and federally-recognized tribes, and then created quilts based on their experiences from World War II through ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They reflect the strength and complications of patriotism, as well as the struggles that sometimes continue after leaving the combat zone.  This project was conceived and directed by Karen Harley, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian tribe.  SOHP intern Lauren McCoppin, among others, helped pull quotes from the original oral history interviews so that visitors to  the exhibit can listen to the voices of the veterans on a Soundcloud playlist that we produced to accompany the exhibit.  The interviews will be deposited in SOHP's collections.  The quilts are on display at CSAS through December 2017. 
Isabell Moore and Melissa Dollman visited Uneven Ground exhibit about inequality in Durham, which uses SOHP oral histories
Welcome to Our New Graduate Student Field Scholars

This fall we welcome a new group of talented and creative Field Scholars to the SOHP! Joining us in the Love House this year are: Melissa Dollman, Danielle Dulken, Isabell Moore, and Abigail Nover. Melissa and Danielle are PhD students in American Studies. Melissa will work on the "Stories to Save Lives" project, a collaboration between the SOHP, the SUDDEN team in the UNC School of Medicine, and the Odum Institute.  Danielle will lead the undergraduate internship program. Isabell is a PhD candidate in the department of History. She is working on Black Communities: A Conference for Collaboration, an exciting event this spring for which SOHP is a co-sponsor. Abigail Nover is a MA student in Folklore and has a BFA in Sound Design. Abigail brings these skills to our podcast, Press Record, as its new producer. To learn more about our Field Scholars and all of our SOHP staff, visit our webpage.

Meet our fall 2017 interns

We're delighted to have (from left to right) Paola Gilliam, Emma Miller, Shannon Hall and Stella Shon on the SOHP team this term.  They are helping with communications, mining the archive for great clips, and doing research on Native American experiences at UNC. For more about each of these terrific students, visit our  

Will Schwartz is a junior at Durham Academy this year.
Volunteer Will Schwartz helped make more interviews available.

We welcomed our first high school volunteer in recent memory this summer, Durham Academy junior Will Schwartz.  Will tackled the important task of figuring out whether any of our interviews that are currently closed to researchers could be opened.  Read about his adventures and what he learned from his blog post.  
Find us at the Oral History Association Meeting in Minneapolis!

SOHP folks old and new will be at OHA October 4-8.  As Program Co-Chair, Director Rachel Seidman takes particular pride in this year's meeting.  Former Director Malinda Maynor Lowery, Project Manager Sara Wood, and former Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos will all be presenting there--as well as many of our graduates and former staff from over the years.  Current field scholars Isabell Moore and Danielle Dulken will be there, along with recent former field scholars Rob Shapard, Charlotte Fryar, Kimber Thomas and Evan Faulkenbury.  Check out Danielle and Kimber's exciting workshop, "Orality, Affective Power, and Activism: Making Oral History Art," on Thursday, 8:30-10:00 a.m., and look us all up in the program to find out where we'll be!  
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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