Field Notes
Winter 2016
From the Acting Director
Dear Friends,

There is no getting around the fact that the last few months have been difficult in terms of the political context in which we find ourselves at both the state and the national level.  That reality makes me all the more thankful for the chance to do work that feels meaningful surrounded by people who are caring and committed to making the world a better place. 

I am finishing up my stint as Acting Director. I'm proud of what we have accomplished at SOHP over the last semester and happy to welcome back Malinda Maynor Lowery, who will return as Director in January.  

My time as Director was capped off in grand style by an amazing trip to Greece, at the behest of the U.S. Embassy, to run oral history workshops in Piraeus, the port city near Athens.  You can read more about the experience Jaycie and I had, but for now, suffice it to say that being in the birthplace of democracy was incredibly powerful at this particular moment in time, and a great reminder that it is an ideal worth protecting with all our might.  

May 2017 bring you peace, good health, and happiness.


U.S. Embassy Brings SOHP to Greece

Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos and Acting Director Rachel Seidman were thrilled to travel to Greece thanks to an invitation from Mike Snyder, former student of UNC history department professor Don Raleigh, and current Cultural Affairs officer at the US Embassy in Athens.  The Embassy partnered with the Municipal Theater of Piraeus, whose Director, Nikos  Diamantis, seeks to engage new audiences in Piraeus through artistic interpretations of oral history interviews with people across the city.  In addition to offering oral history workshops with actors, directors, choreographers, and theater students, Rachel and Jaycie spoke to librarians in Piraeus, and Jaycie travelled to Thessaloniki, where she spoke to librarians and oral historians there. Jaycie notes, "Giving workshops and lectures in Piraeus and Thessaloniki was a highlight of 2016 and of my time with SOHP. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to meet and learn from librarians, archivists, artists, and community members throughout Greece and to come together through the power of oral history."

Nikos Diamantes, Director of the Piraeus Municipal Theater, on left, taking Rachel Seidman, Jaycie Vos, and Mike Snyder, UNC Ph.D. in history and currently the Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Athens, on a tour of the port of Piraeus.

Seidman and Vos with Embassy staff and librarians at the Municipal Library of Piraeus after an oral history workshop there.  

Interns Present Veterans Performance at Earl Scruggs Center

The SOHP Fall Semester Interns, Tony Liu, Grace Thorpe,   Kalycia Harrell and Cami Goray, travelled with Field Scholar Kimber Thomas to the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC, to present a performance based on their interviews with veterans that they collected over the last semester.  Their performance was in conjunction with a temporary exhibit about music and the veteran experience.  The performance was well attended, and the students, Kimber, and the Earl Scruggs Center staff all agreed that it was a successful collaboration.  We look forward to future similar events!

Tony Liu, Grace Thorpe, Kalycia Harrell, Cami Goray  "on the road" in Shelby NC.

Interns and Kimber Thomas, who oversaw their research and partnership with the Earl Scruggs Center, in Cleveland County.

Black Pioneers Project Highlighted by UNC's Process Series

Members of the Black Pioneers watch the performance at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center at UNC. Photo credit: Alex Boerner, Indy Week.

When Process Series director Joseph Megel saw our interns perform their Black Pioneers project, he knew he'd witnessed something special.  He was determined to share that experience with more people, and partnered with SOHP to present the script as part of the Process Series.  SOHP was honored to have our work disseminated in this new way.  The Black Pioneers Project is based on interviews done by our undergraduate interns with members of the first generation of black students at UNC, who attended between 1952 and 1972.  The script puts excerpts of the interviews into conversation with each other, and presents a montage of experiences about the decision to come to UNC, the first moments on campus, interactions with faculty and staff, intense challenges, and the complex relationship these alumni still have with the university.  Chancellor Folt attended the performance and stood afterward to note how important it was to hear these stories and to continue to share them with new audiences.  Megel will be taking the Black Pioneers Project to England as part of an exchange with Kings College in London next year. For more on the performance from IndyWeek you can go here.

250 More Interviews Available in the Collection
Thanks to the hard work of Collections Coordinator Jaycie Vos and our excellent research assistants Stephanie Cornelison and Lauren Bellard, we processed over 250 interviews for the collection in 2016. Here are some highlights:

Commitment Goal Met on Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Fund! 

We are delighted to announce that our commitment goal of $60,000 has been met for the Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Graduate Research Fund.  Created on the occasion of Jacquelyn's retirement and the 40th anniversary of the SOHP, this fund will support graduate students pursuing oral history research projects.  We are so grateful to everyone who has made generous donations in honor of Jacquelyn's important legacy.

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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