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Voices from the SOHP Family: Evan Faulkenbury

At the SOHP, I spent my first academic year leading the undergraduate internship class and project. In total, I led 8 students throughout the year on a project exploring the history of gay student activism at UNC during the 1970s and 1980s. During that year, I remember attending a discussion featuring Dr. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, and she challenged us not to let oral histories just sit in an archive, but to do something with them to get them out into the public. So, at the end of my first year, I began doing just that and eventually co-authored an article for the Oral History Review with one of those undergraduate students, Aaron Hayworth, about our project.

Over the next two years, I helped out with several different projects at the SOHP–basically, anything Dr. Rachel Seidman wanted, I tried to lend a hand! I worked on a project about conservative women activists, conducting a number of interviews and creating a digital exhibit. I coordinated oral history workshops on campus and in the wider Triangle community, leading short sessions on the basics of how-to-do oral history. I helped process and prepare oral histories for the archive. And I helped create the Press Record podcast during my final year. Looking back, my three academic years (2013-2016) at the SOHP flew by, and I’m glad I was able to help out in so many different ways.

Over the last three years, I’ve been working as an assistant professor of history at SUNY Cortland. I recently published my first book based on my dissertation at UNC, entitled Poll Power: The Voter Education Project and the Movement for the Ballot in the American South. I’ve also published a few articles, most recently about Cortland, New York’s Union soldier monument. I suppose I’m wired to think locally, thanks to the SOHP. I’ve also been working with my university’s archive to create and maintain an oral history archive. Right now, I have a few irons in the fire about future history projects, including one about teaching public history. I never thought I’d be working in a small community in upstate New York, but I love my community and campus.

I credit the SOHP for helping me land my current job at SUNY Cortland. I know how difficult attaining tenure-track jobs can be, and without all the experience I gained at the SOHP, I’d probably still be looking. My position is in public history, and even though “public” isn’t in the SOHP’s name, I trained in public history as a graduate student for three years inside the Love House. The SOHP trained me simultaneously in public and oral history, and I’m proud to say that I’m now training undergrads in upstate New York with similar lessons I first picked up at the SOHP.