April 2015

Field Notes
Stories from the Southern Oral History Program

Greetings from the Associate Director
The porch is covered in pollen but that doesn't stop us from gathering there to talk, eat, and share ideas.  The Love House has been bustling with activity as the spring semester gets close to the end and so many projects start to wrap up.  We've been grateful to work with our four fabulous field scholars this year--Evan Faulkenbury, Taylor Livingston, Katie Womble and Darius Scott.  Our great interns have been hard at work too and we hope you'll join us for their final performance on April 29th (see below).  

This semester I have been teaching a new course, "Oral History and Women's Activism in the South," History 390.03.  The course has reminded me of the challenges and the power of oral history in the classroom, and demonstrated yet again how the boundaries we draw between research, teaching, and engagement often make little sense.  In my class, where students earn Experiential Education credits by interning in local women's organizations, they have been reflecting on the connections between the history they have been reading, the interviews they have been collecting with local women, and their own experiences in their placements.  For SOHP, their internships have opened up new connections and avenues for research, and our classroom discussions have pointed to new ways to share our collection with the community. 

Sharing our work widely has been a renewed focus for all of us this year.  Keep your eyes (and ears) open for more audio pieces coming soon--the Year of the Podcast is in full swing and our students have undertaken the challenge to share creatively what they have learned.  Our students and the SOHP have benefited greatly from the expertise of Susan Davis, producer of The Good Fight podcast, and we look forward to continuing to develop our own podcasts in the months and years to come.  Meanwhile, take a look at some of the activities we have been up to, join us when you can, and stay tuned for more next month when we'll be sharing with you new ways for communicating the richness of the SOHP with audiences near and far.  

--Rachel F. Seidman

Interns to Present Performance on April 29th at 1:00
Our four interns, Bryan Smith, Liz Kennedy, Holly Plouff and Samantha Gregg, have been hard at work this semester!  They have worked on mapping the history of desegregation in North Carolina for high school teachers (more on this next month), creating a women's history walking tour of UNC, writing for this newsletter and blogging, and of course interviewing.   Please join us on April 29th, from 1-2:30 p.m., at the Love House, 410 E. Franklin Street, to hear their creative final project--a performance based on their interviews with women about women's activism at UNC and its relationship to the broader feminist movement.  We know you'll be impressed with their research and their creative use of performance as a method of disseminating their findings to the community.  ( Please note the new time which has changed from an earlier announcement.)
SOHP Field Scholar Receives Prestigious Ford Fellowship

The SOHP is home to a fantastic set of scholars and staff, and we like having the opportunity to highlight their achievements. This month, we have the occasion to recognize Darius Scott, who was recently awarded two fellowships. Darius is a 2nd year geography student who works with Betsy Olson and Banu Gökarıksel in addition to the SOHP. His research focuses broadly on how rural and regional planning in the American South (especially North Carolina) affect Black communities and livelihoods. More specifically, he is looking at how road planning in the Progressive Era, not unlike today's highway system, has had long-term impacts on Black communities. He notes that contemporary issues such as road maintenance are affected by a lack of consideration for these communities that existed in the Jim Crow era planning policies.

 The first fellowship Darius has been awarded is the Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship. This fellowship allows recipients to think through ideas and plan a project with the help of an interdisciplinary community, and is targeted towards individuals whose work is interdisciplinary in nature. Darius' combined focus on geography and oral history made him an ideal candidate, and he is being awarded funding for at least six weeks of preliminary fieldwork, as well as an invitation to participate in two workshops. These workshops will provide Darius the opportunity to work with established scholars facing similar interdisciplinary challenges.


Darius has also been awarded a prestigious Ford Fellowship. Ford Fellowships are awarded to recipients who increase diversity in the academy, are committed to staying and teaching in the academy, and who use diversity as a tool in their work. Ford Fellowships are extremely competitive, and Darius, modest as always, wanted to point out that not all who deserve to receive one do, and he was both surprised and grateful to be a recipient. The Ford Fellowship will provide Darius with three years of full funding for graduate school without a service requirement. While we will miss having him on the team of Field Scholars, we know that his work will make an ongoing contribution to the mission of the SOHP and we are so proud to call him one of ours!


--Bryan Smith, SOHP Communications Intern


Field Scholars and Interns Blogging at SOHP.org
Don't forget to check out the blog on our website from time to time! This week Evan Faulkenbury has posted a lyrical piece about his interview with Donna Poe at a small church in Eli Whitney, NC.  Evan (shown here with baby daughter Clara) has been traipsing back roads for his research with conservative women activists, and his work here overlaps with our focus on both women's activism and the rural south. To be sure that you know when a new blog post has gone up, 'like' our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.  

UNC Visitors Center Partners with SOHP for Walking Tour

The UNC Visitors Center is partnering with the SOHP to create an oral history walking tour of campus focused on women's history.  Building on the work of our interns this semester, Field Scholar Taylor Livingston will work this summer on expanding the tour and developing robust digital components that will make it possible for us to share our wealth of oral histories with thousands of visitors to campus each year.  We are excited about the possibilities; look for more news about the tour at the end of the summer!  

Seidman Shares "Inspiring" Stories from the SOHP
In honor of Women's History Month, Associate Director Rachel Seidman was invited to speak to audiences at the Person County Library and (in a talk delayed by earlier snow) to the Women of Fearrington on April 15.  Seidman's talk is called "Inspiring Women: Voices from the Southern Oral History Program," and focuses on stories of women from a wide variety of backgrounds who identified a problem in their community and set out in one way or another to make change.  She shares clips from the SOHP archives curated to tell a story about individuals learning to use their voices to address societal issues. She discusses how these stories are important to inspiring new generations of young women and men to use their own voices--and encourages her audiences to share their own stories with each other and with their families and communities.

News from  Our  Friends (across the Ocean)
Three years ago, at the request of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the SOHP hosted a day-long workshop on the use of oral history in post-conflict society.  We recently heard from Mark Lamour, Political and Security Director who helped organize the meeting.  Mark wrote to alert us to the  recent S tormont House Agreement  reached between political parties in Northern Ireland.  The agreement includes, for the first time, the development of an oral archive around the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Mark wanted us to know that "This is one in a range of initiatives agreed to deal with our troubled past including an international organisation for the retrieval of information relating to the Troubles," and to thank us for helping in this important process.