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Meet the SOHP

Seth Kotch | Director

As an associate professor in the Department of American Studies, Kotch conducts research in modern American history (specifically the social history of the criminal-legal system). His book, Lethal State, was published by UNC Press in February 2019. His digital projects include “A Red Record,” a student-driven project exploring lynching and its victims in the American South, and “Mapping the Long Women’s Movement,” an experiment in empowering researchers to explore oral histories in new ways. He served as co-principal investigator of “Media and the Movement,” a project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities that sought to understand the role of journalists and the media in the civil rights movement during and after the 1960s. He served as PI and project supervisor on the Civil Rights History Project, a nationwide oral history research endeavor administered by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress.


Sara Wood | Project Manager

Prior to joining SOHP in 2017, Wood traveled the American South collecting stories of the region’s diverse cultures as the oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance, based at the University of Mississippi. She’s produced stories for National Public Radio, and sound walks and installations for museums and cultural sites such as the Whitney, the New York Public Library, and the National Park Service.


Graduate Research Assistants

Caroline Efird is a PhD student in the department of health behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her research centers on health equity, social determinants of health, and anti-racism praxis. She has collected oral histories for the SOHP’s Stories to Save Lives project, and has a special interest in exploring the social, historical, and structural factors that influence health for North Carolinians in rural communities. Prior to her graduate studies, Caroline was a teacher in North Carolina and Southern California.


Lauren Frey is pursuing her master of public health degree in health behavior at Gillings School of Global Public Health. She partnered with Naeema Muhammad, the co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and long-time resident of Rocky Mount, to collect oral histories for Stories to Save Lives in southeast Rocky Mount during the summer of 2019.  Prior to graduate school, she worked at the Mississippi State Department of Health as a Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.





Anna Hamilton is a second year PhD student in the department of American studies. Her research in environmental and digital humanities engages oral historical narratives of loss and trauma associated with migrations, storm events, and climate change in the American South. Anna received her B.A. in humanities from New College of Florida, an M.A. in Southern studies from the University of Mississippi, and was a Fulbright scholar to the Republic of Mauritius. Prior to joining UNC, she worked as a journalist, audio producer and oral historian for  a variety of outlets including National Public Radio, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).



Jessica Locklear is a first-year PhD student in the department of history and an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Her research interests include 20th century Native American history, Lumbee History, migration, and identity. She received a master’s degree in history with a concentration in public history from Temple University. Her thesis examined the history of Lumbee migrations to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the community that was established there.




Susie Penman is a PhD candidate in the department of American studies. Before coming to UNC, she received her MA and MFA from the Center of the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Her research is on the political and legal system in New Orleans in the 20th century, with a focus on the district attorney’s office. In addition to collecting oral histories for prior research, she worked on the SOHP’s Stories to Save Lives project in 2019.





Hooper Schultz is a first-year PhD student in the history department. He received his BA in English from UNC-Chapel Hill before earning an MA and MFA at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Hooper’s oral history work has primarily focused on LGBTQ+ communities in the South, and he worked with Dr. Jessie Wilkerson to establish the Queer Mississippi Oral History Archives at the University of Mississippi. His research interests include gender and sexuality studies, queer history, activist movements in the 1970s, and campus institutions, especially through gay liberation activism on college campuses in the 1970s South. He was an Invisible Histories Project fellow and fieldworker in 2019.


Sarah Torgeson is a third year PhD student in the department of American studies. She received her BA in history from Yale University, where her senior essay won the George Washington Egleston Prize for the best undergraduate essay in American history. Her current research is on older adult vulnerability to disaster and climate change on the Gulf Coast. Before graduate school, Sarah worked at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as a historic resources specialist.








Jacquelyn Dowd Hall | Julia Cherry Spruill Professor Emerita of History

Hall’s research interests include U.S. women’s history, southern history, working-class history, oral history, and cultural/intellectual history. She served as president of the Organization of American Historians in 2003-04 and of the Southern Historical Association in 2001-02. She was also the founding president of the Labor and Working Class History Association. She was awarded a National Humanities Medal in 1999 for her efforts to deepen the nation’s understanding of and engagement with the humanities, and in 1997, she received UNC’s Distinguished Teaching Award for graduate teaching. Her publications include Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women’s Campaign Against Lynching (1979, 1993) and Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (1987, 2000), which she co-authored with James Leloudis, Robert Korstad, Mary Murphy, Lu Ann Jones, and Chris Daly. Her most recent publication is “The Good Fight,” in Mothers and Strangers: Essays on Motherhood from the New South, edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith (UNC Press, 2019). Her next book, Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle of the Soul of America, which is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in May 2019, grew out of some of the earliest interviews she did for the Southern Oral History Program.