July 2014
This original portrait of Ella Baker was created by the Moxie Scholars as part of their final project.  
Field Notes
Stories from the Southern Oral History Program

Director's Note


Summer is when we at SOHP have our best "history days"-- days when we can spend time learning, listening, and reflecting on the range of topics we are researching. As you all know, I'm a member of the Lumbee Tribe, and I got my feet wet in oral history with my kinfolks. Two weeks ago I made my annual visit to Lumbee homecoming, and dove deep into our collaboration with the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi to do oral histories of Lumbee Indian foodways. I also have a long-standing interest in working with projects that use authentic voices in the South--our best stories and storytellers--to revitalize rural and small-town economies. Right now I'm fortunate to express that interest through foodways, as SOHP is partnering with the PBS documentary film series "A Chef's Life" which will premiere for its second television season on October 5.


"A Chef's Life" shows us how rural communities benefit when we engage the public around their stories and traditions, the way they tell them. Like the show, the Lumbee foodways project explores what's unexpected and refreshing about Lumbee cuisine (like the collard sandwich). The stories we are hearing also reveal even more complexity about the Southern past. Our collaborators, Sara Wood (Southern Foodways Aliance oral historian) and Jefferson Currie (Lumbee folklorist), are exploring how Lumbee-owned restaurants were a site for activism during the civil rights movement, and how religious and gender expectations have converged through Lumbee gardening, farming, and cooking. We plan to make a short film about one restaurant, the Old Foundry in Lumberton, which had a pivotal role in organizing across racial lines in the 1960s and 1970s.


I can't get enough "history days!"    

10th Anniversary of the Old Foundry. Courtesy Elmer Hunt Collection, University of North Carolina-Pembroke.


--Malinda Maynor Lowery


Moxie Project Scholars Inspired by Past and Present
Moxie Scholars answer audience questions at their final presentation
The Moxie Project UNC 2014 wrapped up with a terrific final presentation by the current cohort of Moxie Scholars. The students were Inspired by the concept of "artivism" -- the use of art for activist purposes-- which they learned in their spring course on Women of Color in U.S. Social Movements taught by Dr. Michele Tracy Berger. Incorporating art into their own project, they created a film on the Moxie Project, in which they discuss why they wanted to do the program and what they learned, and interviewed their internship site supervisors on what the program meant to them.  The students also painted an original portrait of Ella Baker, one of the historical figures they found most inspirational for her emphasis on youth and on collaborative leadership, and unveiled the artwork at the end of their presentation.  And they even created a music video of their own Moxie rap! Their film will be available soon on our website; stay tuned for more from these creative, talented young women.
1960s and 70s Radio Shows Rescued and Renewed



These tapes represent a fraction of those that are being restored by the Media and the Movement Project as part of a major digitization effort.  These tapes are from Durham-based WAFR-FM, the first ever independent, black-owned, non-commercial and community-based broadcaster. They broadcast from 1971 to 1976. With help from George Blood L.P., audio and video engineers and preservationists based in Philadelphia, the Media and the Movement Project has undertaken to restore and preserve these tapes and their content.  For more on the project, visit the Media and the Movement blog.  

Black Roads/Back Ways Project combines Geography and History

During the summer months, field scholar Darius Scott and project director Seth Kotch spent time in archives and spreading the word about the Black Roads/Back Ways project to local historians and pertinent organizations. By working through faded copies of dissertations and long-forgotten maps, they sought to better understand the local and state governments' supervision of Orange County's back ways and the African American infrastructures that existed along them. The first oral history recorded for the project was with Tom Magnuson, a historian of roads and trading paths, who shared his life story and provided advice on exploring the significance of back ways--the routes people of color used to navigate segregated rural spaces.
Detail of  map showing location of African American churches in Orange County, NC.
Report from the Field: Jaycie Vos

Recently Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos, together with colleagues Seth Kotch, Laura Clark Brown and Virginia Ferris, traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to present at the "Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library" conference. Below is Jaycie's report on the exciting level of engagement that their presentation elicited.


We had prepared a panel session titled "Reaching Our (Full, Digital) Potential," and we spoke on the evolution from analog to digitization to born-digital oral histories at the SOHP. We focused on experimentation with digital tools and platforms, the SOHP's collaboration with Wilson Library, and a return to core principles in preserving, describing, and disseminating oral history. Seth also introduced Mitchell Whitelaw's idea of a "generous interface" that reconsiders the users' needs in accessing archival material in a digital environment. The audience was receptive and engaged, tweeting along during our panel to help bring the discussion to the larger community. See tweets from this panel session on Storify.


Fellow conference attendees were eager to share their experiences after our panel, and other presenters offered thoughtful perspectives on many facets of digital humanities, from digital scholarship in the fine arts to methodologies for assessing digital humanities needs and activities on a given campus. "Data Driven" was a wonderful opportunity to connect with others in the field seeking solutions to issues that we find ourselves up against, and it also gave us the chance to reconnect with SOHP alum Kerry Taylor, who is doing fabulous work at the Citadel with Latinos in the Lowcountry. Many people seemed eager to partner on larger, cross-institutional projects that tackle issues that arise as oral history continues to march forward into a born-digital environment, and it reignited a strong desire to work together, bringing our particular strengths in archival theory, metadata, linked data, audio indexing, etc so that we might improve the field for all.



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Southern Oral History Program, Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, CB 9127,  410 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9127