Since 1973, the Southern Oral History Program has worked to preserve the voices of the southern past. We have collected more than 5,000 interviews with people from all walks of life—from mill workers to civil rights leaders to future presidents of the United States. Made available through UNC’s renowned Southern Historical Collection online, these interviews capture the vivid personalities, poignant personal stories, and behind-the-scenes decision-making that bring history to life.
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40th Anniversary Digital Exhibit Now Live
Our digital exhibit commemorating the SOHP 40th Anniversary Celebration on April 4th, 2014 is now live! Take a tour through decades of materials including old documents, interview clips, photographs, and even a video clip of our panel discussion with Howard Lee, Valeria Lee, Jacquelyn Hall, Jessie Wilkerson, and Bill Chafe. Check it out here.
Moxie Project Summer Updates
Our Moxie Scholars are hard at work in their summer internships in women’s organizations around the Triangle. Want to stay up-to-date on their activities? Read the Moxie blog and sign up to receive the brand new “Moxie Memos” newsletter!
Remembering Maya Angelou
In the Fall of 2002, SOHP staff members Angela Hornsby and Kerry Taylor conducted interviews that documented the history of African American businesses in Greensboro, North Carolina. This was part of a larger project entitled “Remembering Black Main Streets.”
On 10 September, author and poet Maya Angelou was on hand for the opening of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop that was intended to anchor the revitalization of East Market Street, which had once been the center of a thriving black business district. After preliminary remarks from Krispy Kreme officials and local civic and business leaders, Angelou offered the following reflections on renewal and redevelopment. She concluded by reciting her poem “And Still I rise.”
Listen to the audio from this event here.
Look where we’ve all come from. Yes. Indeed, I honor Michael King and Mrs. King for believing. A man is as good as his woman. A woman is as good as her man. True. True. Neither is better than the other. In truth, neither can really make it without the other. To come so far, you’ve had faith, not only in God, but in each other. This is a blessing. In itself you’ve blessed us all. I thank the Krispy Kreme for having faith. That’s stepping out on the word. When you risked millions and millions of dollars, that means you’re stepping out on somebody’s word. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Certainly nobody saw that Krispy Kreme would occupy this corner and start the revival of the whole corridor. That is faith.
Thanks to Kerry Taylor for compiling this.
NEH Grant will support Latino oral history initiative at UNC
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant of $240,000 to NEW ROOTS: Improving Global Access of Latino Oral Histories, a collaborative initiative of the Latino Migration Project, The Southern Oral History Program, and the University Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The New Roots Latino Oral History Initiative was established in 2007 to document demographic transformations in the U.S. South by collecting extraordinary stories of migration, settlement, and integration in North Carolina. The collection receives regular contributions of at least forty interviews annually from UNC scholars through an ongoing research program of the Latino Migration Project at the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Center for Global Initiatives. Oral histories are archived with the Southern Oral History Program and their collections in the Southern Historical Collection in the University of Libraries of UNC Chapel Hill. The NEH grant, which is awarded from the NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources division, will make the New Roots collection accessible to new regional, national and global public constituencies, particularly within Spanish-speaking Latino and Latin American communities. Activities will include the creation of a visually engaging bilingual website for public audiences and people who have contributed their stories; a digital catalogue and finding aids in English and Spanish; an interactive portal for teachers to share lesson plans; and a dissemination plan with Latino communities, K-16 educators, national and international oral history networks, and Mexican universities in the origin states of migrants living in North Carolina. The project will be based at UNC Chapel Hill and carried out over the course of three years.
“The New Roots project will provide wider access to this record of the many changes affecting North Carolina. The bilingual features of the project are especially noteworthy in expanding access and will be a model for similar projects to making oral histories at UNC more discoverable to a wider audience,” said Richard Szary, Director of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library and Associate University Librarian for Special Collections.
Contact: Hannah Gill, Project Director
The SOHP Internship, 2013-2014
Congratulations to all of our undergraduate interns from this past year on a job well done! Thanks to their hard work we’ll be adding 16 oral histories on the Carolina Gay Association and sexuality at UNC since the 1970s to our collection.
Our Spring interns just completed their oral history performance for an enthusiastic crowd at the Love House, reading excerpts of their interviews with individuals including E. Patrick Johnson, Randall Kenan, and Terri Phoenix.
Featured Interview: Timothy Jacobs
Timothy Jacobs, a member of the Tuscarora people in eastern North Carolina, has lived a life of activism fighting for his tribe’s rights. Famously, in February of 1988, Jacobs, along with Eddie Hatcher, took part in the armed seizure of the Lumberton, N.C., Robesonian newspaper to call attention to local corruption and mistreatment of Native Americans. In this clip, Jacobs describes his family’s history of activism and how it influenced his own views and actions.To read and listen to the entire interview, which explores many other aspects of Jacobs’ activism, click here.
New Addition: N.C. Memorial Hospital Oral History Project
Oral histories from Dr. Raul Necochea’s fall 2013 seminar: The Revenge of the Sick: History of Medicine from the Patient’s Point of View are now online! This is the second year Dr. Necochea has donated materials from this seminar to our collection, and we are excited about this collaboration with the UNC School of Medicine. His students interviewed clinicians who worked at North Carolina Memorial Hospital from the 1950s to the 1980s. The interviews were guided by the question, “What was considered ‘good doctoring’ decades ago?” These interviews seek to provide perspective on how definitions of medical competence and professionalism change and remain over time by asking experienced clinicians for stories that illustrate their training and how they practiced in circumstances that may be different from those today. The interviews also contribute to the institutional memory of the UNCSOM by preserving testimonies of older practitioners familiar with the history of the University of North Carolina Health Care System.You can access the interviews in our database here.
The Civil Rights History Project
The Civil Rights History Project is a joint undertaking of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. Mandated by an Act of Congress in 2009, the project sought to inventory civil rights oral history collections around the country and then supplement those collections with a series of new interviews with civil rights veterans. The Southern Oral History Program was contracted to conduct those interviews, and we did, filming fifty interviews from Oakland, CA to New York City. We have begun a second phase group of fifty oral histories and will soon begin interviewing with a stellar team including historians John Dittmer, David Cline, Hasan Kwame Jeffries, and Will Griffin and filmmakers John Bishop and Petna Ndaliko.