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Art Call for The NC2020 Coalition Project

Proposals Due Friday, July 3, 2020

The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) seeks to hire an artist/designer with ties to the South (living here/from here) to create five original posters to accompany an oral history project commemorating the centennial of the 19th Amendment and helping to push voter registration and turnout in November 2020 and beyond.

BIPOC + Women Strongly Encouraged to Submit Proposals

We are encouraging artists/designers to engage with the original posters and propaganda of the early-twentieth-century Women’s Suffrage Movement (see examples below) in which women of color are absent from both the visual record and the foundational stories of the monumental movement for women’s rights.

It is our hope that the artist/designer will turn these original designs on their head, using them as fuel to create new posters that honor all of the women who have sacrificed their lives for voting rights, as well as those who continue to fight gender and racial inequities to make voting and representation accessible to all.


Work on the posters is set to begin July 10, 2020, and the posters will need to be finalized by August 6, 2020. Format for final submissions is negotiable based on artist/designer’s preferred specs. Details, including dimensions and deliverables, will be confirmed before the project begins.

Compensation + Deliverables

The stipend for all five posters and deliverable files is $2,000 upon approval and delivery of the files. The posters will accompany the oral history project, which is not only commemorating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but hopes to engage voter turnout in fall 2020 and beyond. The posters will be reproduced both digitally and in print. They may be used in SOHP marketing materials and will be made available to the NC2020 Coalition for promotional and advocacy purposes.


Please email links to portfolio/previous samples and a short paragraph (no more than 250 words) describing your proposal to Sara Wood: by Friday, July 3, 2020.

Project Background + Context

The NC 2020 Coalition is a collaboration of women’s organizations commemorating the centennial of the 19th Amendment. The coalition focuses on commemorating the anniversary by sharing information on events around North Carolina and on the history of suffrage efforts in the United States. Working together, the group’s purpose is to promote accuracy of the historical record, showcase legal and social advances in gender equality since the amendment’s passing, and describe its relevance in the current fight for equal rights.

In collaboration with the NC 2020 Coalition, students at the SOHP at the University of North Carolina have conducted oral histories with women involved with the coalition. In The NC2020 Coalition Oral History Project, the process of the construction in public historical commemoration meets the process of individual remembering. In working together to figure out how to collectively remember the complex history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, these women each bring their own sometimes conflicting, sometimes overlapping memories of womxn’s activism, voting, and citizenship.

Artists/designers are encouraged to incorporate content from the oral history project into the final design.

For reference, please see the following materials and audio excerpts from the project for guidance in creating your proposal.


K-12 Teacher Resources: Centennial of the 19th Amendment


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.

Community Histories and Long-Term Changes by David Dry

SOHP Field Scholar David Dry is a second-year PhD student in the department of history.

“I’m afraid of doctors. I am. I am. I know you have to have them. You have to have them, and that’s the way it is. But seem to me like they make me nervous. Lois’ll tell you, I don’t go to the doctor. I ain’t went to the doctor in years. I mean, I just don’t want to go. I’ll have to go one day when something happens, but as long as I can make it, I ain’t going to go.”

Floyd Chrisawn is afraid of doctors. He won’t go, and as a result, he doesn’t get the healthcare he needs until his medical issues become dangerous. In isolation, this fact might be ascribed to some antiquated cliché of the independent backwoods mountaineer of Western North Carolina; however, Floyd is also a member of a community, and listening closely to a community of voices reveals a different reality.

This semester as a Field Scholar at the Southern Oral History Program I have been listening to fourteen interviews conducted in Mitchell and Yancey counties and undertaken as part of the Stories to Save Lives initiative. These interviews with medical providers and patients asked open-ended questions on topics related to life history, community, perceptions of health, and interactions with the healthcare system.

While health researchers sometimes conduct interviews asking targeted questions to elicit firm answers, the depth of inquiry and responsiveness to narrator concerns of oral history methodology reveals a wider range of observations that can challenge outsider assumptions about community needs and concerns.

The open-ended questions used by oral historians give narrators the power to address the topics they find most significant. Unsurprisingly, people in Mitchell and Yancey counties talked about different healthcare issues.

From retired nurse Marylin Cade we learn about dangers to women and babies with the closure of the local hospital’s Labor and Delivery. From midwife Lisa Goldstein we hear of the shift from healthcare to “health I don’t care” after the recent purchase of the local hospital by a for-profit company, and Emergency Room nurse Amber Miller vividly captures the burdensome expense for people struggling to get by of having to leave the county for medical care.

Taken together, these voices reveal a toxic brew of disappearing local services, declining personalized care from new for-profit providers, and growing barriers to accessing healthcare; however, these recent shifts don’t occur in isolation. In its emphasis on the past, as well as the present, oral history interviews can also reveal community histories and long-term changes.

Former factory worker Lois Laws emphasizes it is not just that the closing of the Labor and Delivery means you have to travel farther–it is the feeling of loss that you cannot deliver your baby in the place you were born. Retired parts manager Calvin Hall relates it is not just that the local hospital was bought by a for-profit company–it the sense of betrayal as that hospital was built by local hosiery mill workers donating two days of pay. It is not just that care is worse or harder to obtain—it is a mistrust that healthcare is still accountable to the local community.

Floyd Chrisawn wasn’t always afraid of doctors. In talking about his experiences in the area as a young man, he fondly recalls a number of local doctors he visited. What changed?

While Floyd alone might not explicitly mention each issue, listening closely a community of voices reveals that a lot has changed, and in helping to elevate community concerns, oral history can serve as a first step in solving complex community health issues.

Creating our UNC Women’s History Tour

Sophia Hutchens is a fourth-year undergraduate and the program assistant of the Southern Oral History Program. She created and continues to lead a specialized, one-hour walking tour on women’s history at UNC.

The women’s history tour was a tremendously exciting project to work on. The tour expanded my knowledge about Chapel Hill and UNC, strengthened my passion for public history, and allowed me to engage the public with the past. I was able to share and explore issues that I care deeply about, such as student activism and queer social movements.

My goal for the tour was to show the many different stories of people of marginalized genders who are connected to UNC, to recognize and name the people whose stories are not usually told. I wanted to include information about staff, faculty, students, and other community members in order to provide a more holistic and representative vision of UNC’s history. I also focused on the stories of people of color and queer folks, who are often underrepresented. I hoped to underscore the sacrifices people made to study and work here, but also highlight the remaining struggles and challenges.

While there were so many stories and issues that I wanted to cover, I knew that I had to be realistic about the limitations of the tour. I found this quote from Karen Parker comforting, “I realized there were a lot of things that needed doing… Through the written word, everybody was going to be elevated to a new status. I found out very quickly that it doesn’t work that way. You feel very fortunate if you help one, two, three, four, five people.”

When preparing the tour, I first reviewed notes from Taylor Livingston’s version of the tour. Taylor was a field scholar and intern coordinator for the SOHP who led “Digging in Our Heels, Angels on Campus: The History of Women On Campus,” a walking tour that was co-sponsored by the UNC Visitor’s Center. While I pulled the majority of my content for the tour from other sources, Taylor’s notes allowed me to evaluate how many stories could be told and how many locations could be visited in an hour-long walking tour.

Next, I utilized UNC’s archives to create a general timeline of the university’s history and obtain general historical context. I utilized several publicly available resources, including the Wilson Library Special Collections, the SOHP’s interview database, UNC libraries’ digital exhibits, UNC’s virtual museum, and “Names in Brick and Stone: Histories from the University’s Built Landscape,” a project produced by Dr. Anne Mitchell Whisnant’s students in HIST/AMST 671: Introduction to Public History. The tour would not exist without these expertly crafted resources, and I am so grateful for the historians who worked to create them and the support they were given in order to do so. With a particular emphasis on women, I collected information about leaders, student and staff activism, the establishment of UNC programs and buildings, changes in the admissions process, and more.

SOHP walking tours typically utilize audio recordings from our interview database. The tour guides share about a person or event and then play a related clip from our archives. I decided to instead read selections from interviews, to avoid technological difficulties and make it easier for guests to hear, and after the tour share a playlist of the clips with the guests. I wanted the tour to present stories from UNC’s history that had strong, related interviews that I could perform. This meant that there were people who I could not include in the tour. For example, I wanted to tell the story of Gwendolyn Harrison, the first Black woman to attend UNC. UNC rescinded her acceptance to her graduate program after she arrived on campus and they realized that she was Black. Harrison decided to fight their decision and file a suit. UNC soon readmitted her and she was able to attend summer courses, but she did not complete her Ph.D. Unfortunately, we do not have an interview with Gwendolyn Harrison so she is not an official part of the tour (though I have spoken about her with some guests while walking to the next destination).

I also chose stories that had stronger connections to sites on campus, and then narrowed those down further by their proximity to each other. While we have captivating interviews with Christina Stickland Theodorou and Amy Lockland Hertel, two of the four Native American students at UNC who founded the Alpha Pi Omega sorority in 1994, their related locations were too far from other sites in the tour. Ultimately, the availability of a related interview and location determined whether an event or person could be incorporated into the tour.

Even after this selection process, I had a surplus of possible stories to include. This is when I pulled out the sticky notes so that I could envision the tour as a whole. I filled pages of my notebook with lists of people and descriptions of their relationships with UNC. For example, when examining Anne Queen, the former director of the Campus Y, I considered her roles as a leader, collaborator, and change maker on this campus. Anne Queen’s work helped create spaces for students that are dedicated to making this campus a better, more inclusive space. I wanted to balance stories of people who changed, challenged, and struggled with UNC.

In the end, I chose a group of people and events that covered a wide span of time in UNC’s history, had connections to powerful interviews in our database, and portrayed the different, often overlooked struggles experienced by people of marginalized genders. I especially enjoy sharing the story of Pauli Murray, a queer, gender nonconforming person from Durham who was denied admittance to UNC’s graduate school in 1938 on the basis of their race. Pauli Murray was a descendent of Cornelia Smith, an enslaved woman who was baptized at the Chapel of the Cross, as well as a slave owner who was a member of UNC’s Board of Trustees. Pauli Murray became an attorney, poet, activist, educator, and priest. You can learn more about Pauli’s incredible story through the Pauli Murray Project.

After writing my script, I practiced the tour with several people, including friends, family, and colleagues. Sara Wood, the SOHP’s project manager, helped me refine the overall story of the tour and provide a consistent message. Lindsey Waldenberg and Spencer Anderson, staff from the Visitor’s Center, gave me critical advice on the technique of leading tours.

Guests of the tour have had a wide range of knowledge about women’s history at UNC. Some of my peers have never of people like Elizabeth Brooks, while other guests were friends with people highlighted in the tour! This encouraged guests to have conversations with one another while we traveled to different locations. They have often shared resources, knowledge, and contact information. This sense of community has stuck with and inspired me.

Keep an eye on the SOHP’s newsletter and social media to find out about future tour dates! Email Sophia Hutchens at if you have any questions.

UNC Women’s History Tour

The Southern Oral History Program’s walking tour highlights the history and experiences of women connected to Carolina, as captured in our oral history archives. The tour will be available again in Spring 2020. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to learn about future tour dates!

Contact the SOHP’s program assistant Sophia Hutchens at if you have any questions about the tour.



Fall 2021 Internship Application

Facing Death Openly by Nick Allen

Nick Allen was an SOHP field scholar during the 2018-2019 academic year. He recently received his M.A. in English and Comparative Literature at UNC, with a focus on Literature, Medicine, and Culture. Nick recorded many oral histories with narrators focusing on themes on death and dying. Here he shares his final piece from his series on Oral History, Death, and Dying. (We are very pleased  to say that we’ve managed to keep Nick onboard at SOHP to continue working on Stories to Save Lives. Stay tuned for more adventures from Nick Allen, SOHP employee.)

In my last post, Carl Henley discussed confronting death hand-in-hand with his wife. Their shared experience of accepting what was happening to them was powerful and serendipitous, but it was also very close to “the end.” In this post, I’d like to share clips from three narrators who face the reality of their deaths somewhat sooner. I hope you’ll share my enthusiasm for their bravery and their candor.

Although we might say that in two of these stories the dying person is compelled to confront death due to terminal illness, we can find countless examples of terminally ill patients who never truly face their deaths. I don’t find that their hand being “forced” detracts from the way that they comport themselves during this last chapter. Their poise in the face of death is laudable. The way that they have decided where the line of “too much care” is speaks to a way of being in the world that we need so much more of.

Dick Merwarth

Heather Troutman

Lata Chatterjee

By articulating our feelings about death and dying with nuance, even if we must engage with existential crises, we also give meaning to life. If we allow the “fallacy of misplaced concreteness” to create binaries in our paradigms of life and death, then we risk devaluing the important moments in life. If we value life as a biological fact above all else, we assert that every moment of life has the same level of meaning and significance because it shares the trait we apparently value most: a beating heart. When we openly express that some degrees of that life/living are unacceptable to us, like brain-death, a life of ventilator support, or perhaps even the inability to watch football on TV, we give more meaning to every moment of life that is acceptable to us. We acknowledge that these moments are temporary and we feel compelled to cherish them.

After reflecting on a career at the bedside of dying patients, narrator Marie Vargo-Flynn said, “The whole thing is, don’t take the day you have for granted! Tell people you love them every day.” To flip this idea into thanatological terms, our inability to engage with death as a concrete thing and necessary, even desirable eventuality for our lives, equates to an inability to fully engage with life’s value. Dying, after all, is for the living.

If you’d like to experience more oral histories of death and dying, please check out my Virtual Reality experience “There at the Bridge” by following this link.

To Finland and Back Again: SOHP Director Rachel Seidman Returns from Fulbright

Hello!  It’s good to be back!

As many of you know, I spent last semester in Finland on a Fulbright Fellowship.  I was based at the oldest university in the country, the University of Turku, a lovely place in the west of the country that hugs the banks of the Aura River, a tributary to the Baltic sea.

While I was there I taught a course called Voices of the U.S. Women’s Movement, which used many SOHP interviews to help students understand the depth and complexity of U.S. feminism in the 1960s and 70s.  My students—a wonderful mix of Finnish and foreign exchange students—found the stories deeply compelling, and loved talking about the similarities and differences between the movements in the two countries.  Although I had been warned that it is hard to get Finnish students to talk in class, in fact many of them were eager to discuss the issues.

I also had a research agenda; I set out to understand how Finnish scholars approach the field of medical humanities and the role that oral history plays in their research there.  As we enter the second year of our Stories to Save Lives project, I was seeking new models, new ways of thinking about the questions we ask and the answers we hear, and I wanted to learn as much as I could from an international and interdisciplinary set of scholars and contacts.  I shared our research with many different audiences, and was pleased by the responses I got.  While there are historians in Finland who use oral history as a method, they do not have robust centers for oral history like the SOHP and others around the country here—so they were impressed by the scale of the work we can do here.  They were also surprised—some, perhaps, even shocked—by the degree to which we share our interviews publicly. The European Union has privacy guidelines for research which Finnish authorities interpret as strictly as possible, making it difficult for oral history interviews to be made public.

I learned a great deal from the many researchers I spoke with, and made many wonderful new contacts and colleagues in Finland, and I am looking forward to the unfolding of new collaborations over time.  I am delighted that Kaisa Vehkalahti, a researcher from the University of Oulu, where I visited in April, is already planning a trip to the SOHP this spring.  She recently received major new funding from the Academy of Finland for a project called “Rural Generations on the Move: Cultural History of Rural Youth, 1950–2020.” She aims to identify important cultural and social shifts in the construction of rural youth and rural identity formation from World War II up until the present. She was struck by what she called our “innovative approach to oral history sources – particularly the policy-relevant uses of rural oral history collections” and thinks they can “offer a very fruitful model for creating new ways of both collecting and using oral history in Finland.” In addition, two Finnish Fulbright fellows will be on UNC’s campus this year: Anna Koivusalo, a post-doctoral researcher studying “The Culture of Feeling and Historical Change: Emotional Practices and Experiences in the U.S. South during the Civil War Era;” and Nikko Heikkilä, who is working on his dissertation on “The Cultural Politics of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan.” I’m looking forward to building on our relationships and increasing the ongoing exchange between our universities.

In addition to the intellectual richness of my experience, of course, I also had a lot of fun!  My husband, Benjamin Filene, also had a Fulbright fellowship and was based at the City Museum of Helsinki.  We explored the country and also travelled some in Europe.  We both kept blogs about what we were learning and experiencing; you can find mine here, and Benjamin’s here.

I’m excited to be back, and am looking forward to a fruitful and productive year at SOHP and with all my colleagues and friends in the Center for the Study of the American South and at UNC.  Sara Wood, Hannah Gill, Malinda Maynor Lowery, and Terry Rhodes made it possible for me to take advantage of the amazing opportunity I had, and for all that they did to support me and the SOHP while I was gone, I am profoundly grateful.

Sonic South 2019 on May 9 at Chapel Hill Public Library

Join us for a live listening room with the five finalists of SOHP’s 2019 Sonic South short doc audio competition In Sickness and In Health on Thursday, May 9 at 7PM at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Featuring short audio works from local producers using SOHP archives to explore healthcare, medicine, and illness in the South. For more information visit our Sonic South page.

This is the Time UNC Women’s History Tour

Celebrate Women’s History Month and learn about pioneering Carolina women. This is the Time walking tour highlights the history and experiences of women connected to Carolina, as captured in Southern Oral History Program collections. The tour is available on Friday, March 29 at 3PM through the UNC Visitors Center. Go here to make a reservation or call 919-962-1630.