"You don't have to be famous for your life to be history."
These words, spoken by Nell Sigmon when she was interviewed in 1979 serve as our unofficial motto. They remind us of the extraordinary significance of ordinary lives and guide our efforts to seek document stories and experiences of the South.
Since 1973, the Southern Oral History Program has worked to preserve the voices of the South. We have collected more than 6,500 interviews with people from all walks of life. We think there's much to be learned from listening to each other. Housed at UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South, we are dedicated to conducting, archiving, and exhibiting oral histories. We believe in the power of individual narrative to challenge static notions about history and place, and wish to encourage students, faculty, and community partners to consider oral history as a valuable tool for creating a dynamic and inclusive portrait of the South.
Answering questions with oral histories
We ask questions about the American South that can only be answered through oral histories. The SOHP is committed to being a resource for anyone looking to use this original research for their own projects. Our interview database is a rich repository of accounts ranging from politicians to activists, business owners to millworkers, educators to artists.
The Southern Oral History Program interview archive is available through the Southern Historical Collection in the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
We create original research and partner with interdisciplinary collaborators in advanced initiatives and strive to make our archive useful to communities from which these stories originate.
We enhance oral history training and education by training, supporting, and partnering with community members, students, and faculty to conduct advanced, ethical research.
We strive to make our unparalleled archive useful to the communities, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. The interviews serve as primary sources for bold and compelling research.