September 2015

SOHP Interns (along with others) taking UNC's "Black & Blue" walking tour of campus
Field Notes
Stories from the Southern Oral History Program

From the Acting Director
Renee Alexander Craft
One of the best decisions I've ever made was to say "Yes" when asked to serve as Acting Director of the Southern Oral History Program.  I have not only admired the work of the SOHP for years, but my current research projects benefit from its commitment to creating dynamic and innovative ways for various publics to engage with the diversity of ideas, cultures, and communities invoked by the designation "the American South" through oral history research. Who could have guessed three years ago, when I met with Seth Kotch on the front porch of the Love House to discuss his "Mapping the Long Women's Movement" project and my desire to expand my research into the digital humanities, that I would have this unique privilege to learn and grow with such a stunning group of people.

Owing a debt to insights gleaned from Seth as well as the support of an inaugural Digital Innovation Lab/Institute for the Arts and Humanities fellowship, I launched my current research project, Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation  in December of 2013. Prototyped using my original research, Digital Portobelo is an interactive online collection of ethnographic interviews, photos, videos, artwork, and archival material that illuminate the rich culture and history of Portobelo, Panama. As a performance studies-trained humanist invested in fostering public engagement with my scholarly research, I have sought to create live performances and performance-installation projects as one way of making my research more accessible, especially to
Congo Chorus and Drummers in Portobelo (Photo by Renee Alexander Craft)
the communities reflected by and invested in its outcomes. Digital Portobelo allows me to carry forward this commitment while expanding the 
slate of co-creators, collaborators, and witnesses. 

My newest research project brings my interest in Hemispheric Blackness back to my "homeplace" of Charlotte, NC through an ethnographic and oral history-based project focused on an African American men's social organization called "The Dukes Club." Built on the principles of self-determination and cooperative economics, The Dukes Club affords its members the ability to fellowship, travel, and exercise community through an independent, secular organization within a freestanding building that they built, own, occupy, and manage. Known as "Dukes," the male members as well as their spouses (referred to as "Duchesses") represent a wealth of knowledge on mid-to-late twentieth century Black Charlotte from the perspective of those who witnessed its transition from segregation through desegregation.  

I am honored to align these projects with the ambitious and stellar scholarship rooted in and routed through the SOHP. It is impossible to create and support extraordinary scholarship without a team up to the task.  Of the many joys that have marked my first month here, one of the greatest has been familiarizing myself with some of work of this remarkable team.

2014 NC Women's Summit
In addition to working closely with our graduate field scholars and pursuing a rigorous research agenda, Associate Director Rachel Seidman continues to nurture the organization's relationship with the North Carolina Women's Summit. This partnership is one illustration of how the oral history research we conduct connects directly with current events and public policy. We hope you will join us this Thursday, September 24th from 9-4:30 on the campus of Wake Forest University for third annual NC Women's Summit.  Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos is making important interventions in oral history research. Working with Wilson Library to fully digitize older interviews and make them available to the public faster, she is helping to create standards for archival descriptions and metadata that are being used here at UNC as well as in the broader field.  Administrative Support Associate Rachel Olsen has been working with our undergraduates on multiple fronts. In particular, she has been working closely with the Center's work study students to give them the opportunity to connect with faculty and staff based on shared research interests, to ensure that they get good exposure to the field of oral history research as they contribute to the success of the organization.

SOHP's 2015-2016 docket is full of exciting projects and programs. As I continue to settle into this community, I look forward to keeping you abreast of the great work that we do and hope to have the opportunity to personally greet you and thank you for your support.
Spotlight: Field Scholar Kimber Thomas  
SOHP Field Scholar Kimber Thomas
This semester, a new field scholar joined our team of graduate students engaging in oral history research. SOHP Intern Monique Laborde interviewed her and wrote the piece below:

Kimber Thomas, an American Studies graduate student and field scholar at SOHP, is using oral histories to enliven her dissertation research on African American material culture. Before joining SOHP, Kimber worked with the Southern Foodways Alliance and the Margaret Walker Center in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. She conducted oral history interviews with African American business owners and residents from the Historic Farish Street district, recording stories of resourcefulness and community from the district's restaurateurs. 

Campers at St. Gabriels Mercy Center dressed up as founders of Mound Bayou

Kimber dedicated herself to preserving the stories and cultures of African Americans in the South, and continues to study how African Americans have "made do with what they had." Most recently, she returned to Mississippi this summer to research the founding of the city of Mound Bayou. Kimber is among one of the first few UNC students to research with the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA) since the partnership between UNC and HBTSA began last year. For more information on Kimber's research in Mound Bayou, read the latest SOHP blog post here.

Events Galore
September has been a busy month around the Center, including plenty of SOHP events! 

On September 8th, CSAS hosted a roundtable discussion
with Hannah Gil, Director of the Latino Migration Project at UNC's Institute for the Study of the Americas, and her collaborators on   New Roots/Nuevas RaĆ­cesThis exciting initiative centers around a growing collection o f oral histories gathered by Dr. Gil and her students focused on issues related to Latino migration to North Carolina. The lunchtime conversation focused on the team's new effort, with funding from the National 
Workshop attendees interviewing each other
Endowment for the Humanities, to make these oral histories more accessible by creating the first fully bilingual digital archive of oral histories in the country, and by reaching out to the Latin American communities from which many of the interviewees came. SOHP is proud to be an ongoing partner on this project, especially through the expertise and contribution of our Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos.

Then, on September 17th, Field Scholar Evan Faulkenbury hosted a workshop on "How To Do Oral History" for students and community members, open to the public. The workshop drew a big crowd and covered everything from finding an interviewee, to asking the right questions, to actually using oral history in academic research. We look forward to hosting more workshops like this in the future.

We're excited to once again attend the annual meeting of the Oral History Association in just a few weeks, and we hope to see many of you there! Here are the workshops and panels in which we'll be participating:

SOHP will host a workshop titled "Share the Wealth: Bringing Oral History to the Public" on Wednesday, October 14th at 8:30 AM. Associate Director Rachel Seidman, Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos, and Field Scholar Taylor Livingston will lead the workshop.

Black-owned radio station in Chadbourn, NC est. 1962
Seth Kotch and Joshua Clark Davis will discuss their work on the Media and the Movement project in the panel titled "Couriers of Justice: Print and Radio Activists and Social Change" on Thursday, October 15th at 8:30 AM.

Rachel will also chair a panel titled "Giving Voice: Feminist Oral History Approaches to Reproductive Justice" on Friday, October 16th at 8:30 AM.

Finally, Jaycie will also be participating in several panel discussions. She will chair "Metadata: Not Your Average Toothbrush" on Friday, October 15th at 8:30AM and will be a panelist in "Love the One you Use: CONTENTdm and Oral History Collections" that same day at 3:30PM.

Good News
SOHP has been accepted to lead a roundtable discussion at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the National Council on Public History! This is our first time attending and participating in the NCPH conference. Our roundtable is titled  "Listen Up: Podcasts for Pedagogy and Public History," and will feature members of our staff as well as Susan Davis 
of Better Broadcasts. Stay tuned for more info!

I n other good news, former SOHP Director Jacquelyn Dowd Hall gave the Keynote Address at the 2015 UNC-King's College London Graduate Student Workshop on Transatlantic Historical Approaches. Her talk was titled "Narratives of Progress in North Carolina: Scholarship, Activism, and the Political Uses of the Past." Congratulations, Jacquelyn!
Join us at the NC Women's Summit!
The 2015 NC Women's Summit is coming up fast! It will take place on Thursday, September 24th, 2015 at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC). This year's summit will feature keynote speakers Melissa Harris-Perry, Executive Director of WFU's Pro Humanitate Institute, and Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. SOHP is proud to co-sponsor the NC Women's Summit again. Get your ticket for the NC Women's Summit now!