Field Notes
Winter 2017
Director's Welcome
Greetings from the Southern Oral History Program! I hope this newsletter finds you in good spirits and good health, surrounded by those who mean the most to you.  In this newsletter, you'll learn more about the  boundless creativity and energy  of SOHP staff and students. I'm so lucky to be collaborating with these people every day.
 
This semester I had the great fortune to teach an honors seminar, Oral History and Women's Activism in the South to a wonderful group of UNC undergraduates. For their final projects, students chose a topic they were interested in and created digital exhibits drawing from our archives, primary documents, and photographs from Wilson Library.   

I'm particularly proud of our ongoing and newly unfolding collaborations across campus. We are learning so much from our work with Dr. Ross Simpson of UNC's School of Medicine and head of the SUDDEN Project. With the help of a FIRE Grant from UNC, we have been mining our archive for instances in which interviewees talk about health and medical care. We are exploring what we can learn about issues like social and medical isolation from oral histories in our collection. For example, James Anderson, a black farmer from Lexington, Mississippi, was interviewed as part of the Breaking New Ground project with black landowners:
 
"People weren't like they are now. Say, for instance, a farmer got sick or his wife got sick and he wasn't able to go to the field because he had to see to his wife. Those farmers would come together, the whole community. They'd break his land and plant it in one day, there'd be that many of them. People cooperated; they worked together. If you got sick, you had a sick person in your house, they sat up with you all night. . . People acted like they loved one another back then. You got the feeling that people actually cared for one another. I can remember my mama being sick, and I'd go to bed. I'd wake up and the people who were there when I went to sleep would be still sitting there."   
 
We have found wonderfully evocative examples like Anderson's, but that has only created a greater need for us to pursue this research further. We are working with colleagues across campus, in the Gillings School of Public Health, the college's program in health and humanities, and the School of Medicine, to design a new collecting initiative around health, medical care and illness in the South, which we plan to launch this summer.
 
We are also collaborating on a variety of other initiatives large and small. We are working with the Jackson Center for Saving and Making History to make sure that residents of Chapel Hill's historically black Northside neighborhood know about and have access to any interview in our collection that touches on the life of that community. Fourteen new interviews are being deposited in the Southern Mix project on Asian and Asian American voices in the South thanks to Professor Ji-Yeon Oh Jo, her teaching assistant Mary Williams, and especially the students in her class on the Asian American Experience. 
 
I hope you'll be inspired by these projects and those you'll find below. Please consider making an end-of-year gift to the Southern Oral History Program to help us continue to collect, preserve, and share the amazing stories of people in the South.
 
All my best,

"Plowing: Southern Pines 001"
From PhC.184 Massengill Postcard Collection State Archives of North Carolina Raleigh NC
Digital Exhibits Showcase Collections and Students' Creativity

Our graduate field scholars and undergraduate students have embraced digital exhibits as a compelling way to share the richness of SOHP collections. Students in Rachel Seidman's class created five new digital exhibits to showcase aspects of women's activism in the South that they wanted to share with new audiences.  You can see their exhibits here

Two digital exhibits created by graduate students focus on both sides of the interview. In George Stoney: Carolina Roots , field scholar Melissa Dollman writes about the late documentary filmmaker with deep connections to UNC and SOHP. "His participatory media making was not too philosophically dissimilar from that of an oral historian," writes Dollman. Stoney said he "spent much of his life making films about teachers or preachers that these people ought to have made themselves." Two oral histories with Stoney are archived at SOHP.  

West Southern Pines, N.C. is a collection made up of more than twenty oral histories with residents of one of North Carolina's first incorporated African American towns. Nancy Mason, oral historian for the Town of Southern Pines, spoke to people who discussed the changes and challenges of the eventual annexation of the town, as well as a range of complex memories and feelings about living in the tight-knit Scotland County community.  Thanks to the work of our communications interns, this exhibit was featured in a recent edition of the Southern Pines online newspaper, The Pilot.

Join us for our Interns' Final Presentation on December 11

This fall, our interns have been working on an oral history project on Native American Activism at UNC in the last fifty years.On December 11th they will be giving a performance at Wilson Library. The performance style will use ethno-poetry, narration, and images to portray some of the Native American history at UNC as well as the experiences of the narrators. The performance will not be using embodiment or costumes to ensure that the performers are respectful to Native American cultures. Read more about their interviewees here.
 


Introducing Daniel Anderson 

Straight out of Bakersfield, California, Daniel Anderson joins SOHP as our new research assistant from UNC's School of Information and Library Sciences (SILS). 

Daniel started the SILS program in Fall 2017, arriving at SOHP to assist with our many archival adventures, including the processing and depositing of oral history interviews into the Wilson Library. Daniel earned his MA at California State University, Bakersfield in 2013, where he also volunteered in the university archives, as well as in the archives of Bakersfield College, and Kern County Museum. 

He's passionate about finding ways to make archives inclusive, and loves working with the public.  Daniel's focus in the SILS program is digital archives and community engagement. He says he's drawn to oral history because it allows people to "hear someone's voice, hear their cadence and how they talk, bringing so much more context to a historical event or collection." We look forward to watching and benefitting from Daniel's professional growth here at SOHP. 

Sara Wood joined SOHP in August
Sara Wood, Project Manager, on her first few months at SOHP

A big part of my decision to come to SOHP was its legacy; both its brilliant leadership and the sheer power of students who have sought this place out to shape their own research and communities beyond UNC. All roads leading up to my arrival here involved driving my vintage Saturn SL1 through the South collecting oral histories about life and culture in this vast region. In this new role and season, I'm lucky to walk into a house (CSAS) built on the stories of this place and its people. I learn something new every day working with Rachel Seidman, from her bright example and clear vision for SOHP's new era. Our field scholars and interns are teaching me different vantage points from which to look at oral history. I've come to realize how much I love helping to foster growth and guidance in students'  fieldwork. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that will allow both myself and SOHP to thrive and connect to communities and audiences within and outside of the American South. 

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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