This blog post was written by SOHP Director Malinda Maynor Lowery
Happy Holidays! Things are so busy around the Center for the Study of the American South that it’s easy to lose track of all we are accomplishing at SOHP. So just to help me keep my head on straight, I asked each of our staff members and graduate students to share the top three things from their work this semester that gave them the most pride. Even though it doesn’t encompass nearly all of what we’ve done since August, it’s such a rich list that I wanted to share it. Everyone participated in what you see here—this is truly a collaborative effort. Enjoy this sampling (in no particular order):
- Developing research and collecting partnerships with Wilson Library (on the Moral Monday movement), the Center for the Study of the American South (on the Historic Black Towns Alliance project), and the department of American Studies (on our Back Ways project, for which we submitted a $260,000 grant proposal to the NEH in December). Field Scholar Darius Scott was instrumental in developing the NEH grant. Nurturing our relationship with Wilson is one of Coordinator of Collections’ Jaycie Vos’s most important and ongoing duties; she and Field Scholar Katie Womble also worked to finish accessioning a landmark collection, the interviews related to E. Patrick Johnson’s book Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South. Furthermore, Darius, Katie, and Evan Faulkenbury completed 12 interviews this fall on topics including rural development to conservative political activism to the first female faculty members at UNC.
- Celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of our Founding Director, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, in September. In the words of SOHP’s Administrative Support Associate, Rachel Olsen, “seeing how much it meant to all of her students, colleagues, family, and HER was priceless!” Jaycie noted, “it was inspiring and humbling to see the depth and richness of her career at SOHP and beyond, and it clarified and solidified how much excitement and strength the SOHP has moving into the future.” It was honor for all of us to participate.
- Three of Jacquelyn’s former students have helped us launch a $60,000 endowment, the Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Summer Research Fellowship Fund. This endowment will provide $3,000 every summer to a graduate student doing research in oral history. Thanks to over two dozen former students, friends, and colleagues, we are almost halfway to our fundraising goal! Please click here to learn more and invest in SOHP’s future.
- Expanding the reach of oral history onto our campus and state. We are all proud of Associate Director Rachel Seidman’s involvement in the 2nd annual North Carolina Women’s Summit, where she has used oral history research to place policies about education, health care, labor and others issues into a critical context. Rachel also leads a new effort to collaborate with K-12 teachers on using oral history in the classroom. Rachel and Field Scholar Taylor Livingston have mentored our undergraduate interns this fall through a project on women’s leadership, which culminated in a podcast they developed called “Rebellion.” Check it out here and watch for more podcasts and audio pieces coming from SOHP in the future. On teaching the undergraduates, Taylor said she was proud that “students actually paid close attention to what I told them about women’s history—the title of their final performance was taken from something I mentioned to them in class the very first day.” Field Scholar Evan Faulkenbury remarked on one faculty member’s response to an oral history workshop he gave for her large lecture class: “she told me the workshop really motivated students to take their oral history project more seriously.” These are the moments we live for as teachers.
- Staying on the cutting edge of national conversations in our field and associated areas of study. We participated in this fall’s Oral History Association conference, and Jaycie recalled her pride in how the conference evidenced SOHP’s effective collaborations over the years. Jaycie herself has since initiated a metadata committee at OHA and published an article in the online journal South Writ Large. Our work on foodways also continues to receive national attention, as we introduced the nation to the Lumbee collard sandwich and tri-racial segregation with the support of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Watch Southern Cultures’ spring food issue for more! Rachel Olsen and Jaycie Vos have also been steadily experimenting with and revising our website, and we will launch a new version in the spring.
“Seeing small changes have a big effect feels great,” said Rachel Olsen. This sums up one of the things I am most proud of—how we as a community here at the Love House, and beyond, show up every day to do the tiny, mostly unrecognized tasks of our work; between posting to social media, editing transcripts, scheduling meetings, and having small conversations that go big places (like the monthly colloquia that Evan organizes). I could go on and on—I am so grateful for the way SOHP and CSAS shows such dedication to UNC-Chapel Hill’s mission in teaching, research, and service.