Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Summer Grants & Fellowships

Each year the Southern Oral History Program offers grants and fellowships as a means for undergraduate and graduate students to have the opportunity to expand their skillset and conduct research using oral history.

Currently applications are open for both our Summer Undergraduate Research Assistantship Awards and the Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Research Fellowship for graduate students. Applications for both are due March 1, 2019 for consideration. We are also sharing a link to the Summer Visiting Research Fellowship through the Wilson Library.

Learn more about each award and how to apply below.

Special Collections Library Audiovisual Research Fellowship (Wilson Library)

The Special Collections Library Audiovisual Research Fellowship promotes the scholarly use of Wilson Library’s rich audiovisual collections (including the SOHP’s archive), thanks to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, offering $2,500 to support the intensive, innovative, and impactful research use of its collections. Deadline for submissions is February 15, 2019. For more information and links to apply, visit UNC Libraries’ Summer Visiting Research Fellowship page.


  • Submit a research proposal and research plan that draws deeply and substantively on the collections of the Wilson Special Collections Library to support your research.
  • Commit to a full-time research residency of at least ten days at the Wilson Library that will occur between May 1 and September 1.
  • Agree to participate in the intellectual life of the Library and the fellowship program, which will include a public presentation of research findings and experiences and the submission of a brief research report. Fellows may be invited to submit papers to a capstone symposium in Southern Studies that will take place in 2022.
  • Have or be actively pursuing the terminal degree in their discipline.

Summer Undergraduate Research Awards

The Southern Oral History Program is offering three competitive summer 2019 undergraduate field research awards for students at UNC Chapel Hill.

Summer field researchers will receive a $2500 stipend for 10 weeks of summer oral history fieldwork that includes researching and collecting oral histories for one of SOHP’s research projects, Stories to Save Lives: Health, Illness and Medical Care in the South, or Southern Mix: Voices of Asians and Asian Americans in the American South. The SOHP will offer two field research awards for Stories to Save Lives, and one field researcher award (thanks to the Carolina Asia Center) for work on Southern Mix. Deadline for submissions is Friday, March 1, 2019 at 5PM EST.

Field researchers must commit to one week of intensive oral history training in late May 2019 at the SOHP, followed by nine weeks of field research, for an expected total of 200 hours inclusive of the bootcamp. See below for more detailed information on the research topics.

Learn more about each project and how to apply here.

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Research Fellowship

The Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Research Fellowship is made possible by its namesake fund, in honor of the founding director of the SOHP. The award provides one graduate student with support to pursue research pertaining to oral history during the summer of 2019. One $4,000 summer fellowship will be awarded to a graduate student attending the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who has taken Introduction to Oral History (History 670), or who can demonstrate competency and experience with oral history methods.

To apply, please visit this link to submit a CV and two-page project proposal that details your research plans, timeline, and connection to oral history.  Questions may be addressed to Sara Wood at

Deadline for applications is Friday, March 1, 2019 by 5PM EST

Jacquelyn Down Hall Research Fellowship Application Submission Form

2018 JDH Research Fellow: Joshua Sipe

R. Joshua Sipe is the recipient of the 2018 Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Research Fellowship 

The award was crucial to providing me the resources necessary to embark on several research trips to explore race relations and African American community formation in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area from the 1930s through the 1960s. My central research questions during my fellowship were: 1) How did defense communities for African Americans on the Peninsula get created? 2)  How did community life in evolve? 3) What was white citizens of Hampton Roads response to the large increase of African Americans due to World War II? 4) How did the creation of defense communities alter the social, economic, and political dynamics of the Peninsula?

In hopes of better understanding the answers to these questions, using fellowship fund I travelled to the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, and Newport News, Virginia for research. At the National Archives, I explored the records of the Public Housing Administration (RG 196), the Workers Project Administration (RG 69), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (RG 207). The week researching these records revealed important logistical and operational functions and considerations at the federal level in installing defense housing projects in the South. While the National Archives lacked a large amount of records related to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, memorandums, letters, and plans from other African American housing developments in southern urban areas revealed the tense relations between federal officials and state and local representatives who wanted to preserve the racial status quo. These findings were echoed in sources located at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia.

The bulk of my research centered in and around Newport News, Virginia where I explored city council records, the Newport News Housing Authority records, and conducted oral history interviews with community members. Through city records two important coinciding developments became apparent: an increasingly anxious and fearful white city leadership, and most importantly a growing vocal and politically active African American community. These developments have become the keystones to the evolution of my current project, in which I explore Newport News leader’s strategy of Peninsula consolidation to re-inscribe white rule to counteract the growing political activity of African American citizens. This episode in Hampton Roads history illustrates the constant remaking and reshaping of Jim Crow in the South, especially as the Civil Rights Movement grew. The fellowship’s support of my archival research led to the shift in my project and provided a strong foundation from which my master’s thesis has grown.

While my archival research in Newport News most dramatically affected the trajectory of my research, my favorite part of my fellowship was the oral history interviews I conducted. Using community connections from previous research, I was able to schedule a few interviews with individuals who resided in the African-American defense communities built in and around Newport News. Hearing the stories of these individuals, as with most oral history interviews, provided personal insights, anecdotes, and richness other sources do not provide. I am always shocked at and grateful for the openness and level of vulnerability my interviewees offer. Their reflections on events and the trials they share continually illuminate the importance of completing oral history interviews and the shared positive experience the interview provides for both the interviewer and the interviewee. I will always remember the passion and pride the individuals I interviewed shared about the communities they grew up and live in during a time of segregation and the beginnings of great change on the Peninsula.

I am very appreciative and grateful for the various research opportunities the Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Research Fellowship allowed me to pursue. Without the financial support of the fellowship, I would not have been able to make as much progress as I was able to on my master’s thesis. The volumes of material I engaged with not only have contributed to my current project, but should provide an important source base for my future work.

Doing Oral History: American Indian Activism at UNC

[Written by former SOHP field scholar Danielle Dulken]

How have American Indian students and faculty—as well as the non-native people who support them—created spaces at UNC-Chapel Hill to advocate for and nurture the distinct tribal communities represented on and around campus? What did these pushes for visibility look like? And what have they made possible?

For the 2017–2018 academic year, the SOHP interns were invited to create a new oral history collection on American Indian activism at UNC. As the intern coordinator, I guided this project, introducing students to oral history methods and literature on American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS). Each semester four undergraduate students participated in the SOHP internship program. As interns, they helped develop this new collection by interviewing two narrators each for a total of sixteen new interviews from UNC faculty, staff, undergrad students, graduate students, professional students, and alumni.

This new collection adds critical perspectives on American Indian activism on and around campus from the 1970s forward to the SOHP archive. From these voices, we learn how a term like “activism” has complicated meaning—some narrators embraced it while others questioned it. We hear about the complexity of Native identity in a black and white southern landscape. We hear how Native people have built alliances across black and white racial lines and how they have navigated racial tensions to preserve the self and their communities. We hear about tribal connections from campus across the United States and we hear, most importantly, we are still here. [1]

How did we interview? How did we begin?

SOHP intern Blake Hite interviews Malinda Maynor Lowery, history professor and director of the Center for the Study of the American South.

Together—the students and myself— imagined who the narrators for this project might be. Based on word-of-mouth recommendations and support from archivists, we begin building a list of people who had important perspectives on Native organizing on campus.

I asked Native faculty and faculty from AIIS who they believed had important perspectives on American Indian activism at UNC. Once our list of narrators was established and interviews were underway, students made a point to ask each narrator to recommend someone else. This approach precipitated many of the interviews found in this collection.

Historical context is important for the interview process too. The interns visited Wilson library several times and sifted through UNC’s archives, digging into collections that revealed how organizations like the Carolina Indian Circle formed. They also found correspondence that illustrated frustration from past students on the lack of Native faculty addressed at upper level administrators. This research helped students identify narrators, but it also helped them understand what was going on for Native people at UNC over the last fifty years.

Our Process

Each student developed interview guides tailored to the unique experiences of the individual narrator. These interview guides were informed by archival research but also cursory searches online that revealed the narrators’ career history, publications, and more. The interview guides invited narrators to consider how they influenced the campus through place-making, like the American Indian Center and the Carolina Indian Circle, and intellectual space-making, like the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program. Each semester, after the interns finalized their interviews and complementing archival materials, they prepared a performance intended to thoughtfully demonstrate the important histories they heard in the oral histories.

To begin this project, we first imagined a timeline cognizant that American Indian presence has a long history on the land where UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus stands. Archeologists in the university’s Research Labs of Archeology (RLA) have worked extensively to identify tribal histories which predate UNC-Chapel Hill. Together we read Time Before History: The Archeology of North Carolina, written by scholars from UNC’s RLA, to establish a timeline but also consider the challenges of place and boundary-making.

We also used the digital Native Narrative Tour created by the American Indian Center as well as the American Indians in Chapel Hill page from The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History as secondary sources to continue our conversations and research.

We found the RLA had an incredible database of three dimensional artifacts that provided us an opportunity to reflect on the tribes that built community here in Chapel Hill before Western contact. In fact, some of the artifacts in the database were discovered by archeologists at the exact site where we where we were conducting our research: Love House, the home of the Center of the Study for the American South (CSAS) and SOHP.

Recognizing the long arc of American Indian history on the landscape of UNC’s campus, the students decided to use their culminating performance to emphasize the past through a land acknowledgement. [2]

We would like to begin this performance by acknowledging that the land on which we gather today was originally Native land. A land acknowledgment is not something you “just do” before an event. Rather it is a reflection process in which you build mindfulness and intention walking into whatever gathering you are having. During the 17th century, the Occaneechi lived on this land. This university was founded in 1789.  We recognize that our performance does not encompass all American Indian activism that has taken place on this land, and by no means are we attempting to suggest that it does, or that it’s possible to cover such a large movement in such a short amount of time. Our performance covers the areas of research that we were able to conduct during this semester.

Equally important to the students—and related to landscape—was what they were learning about the ongoing struggle for visibility in the American Indian community at UNC. Students read Vine Deloria’s activating text, Custer Died for Your Sins. Deloria, students learned through the University Archives, was invited to speak at UNC’s American Indian Center in 1977 for cultural week.

Yackety Yack, 1977, Student Organizations, The Carolina Indian Circle

Students also leafed through UNC’s yearbook, the Yackety Yack, for images that may have correspond with events they learned about in the interviews. The Yackety Yack, which is digitized at Wilson Library from years 1890 – 1991, is an excellent resource to create a composite of a historical moment. During our research phase, librarian Sarah Carrier prepared archival materials, including yearbooks, to review for traces of American Indian movement building on campus. Carrier noted the yearbooks have many original images, published nowhere else, which yield insights about the happenings around campus.

If you’ve ever worked on an oral history collection you know the power (and sometimes agony) of images. Often, oral historians carry photographs with them to an interview in hopes of spurring memories. Can you tell me about whose in this photo? What’s going on here? What did the person in this picture mean to you? Other times, interviewers snap an image of the narrator after an interview to enhance an oral history collection because we know how exciting it is when you stumble across portraits of narrators in the archive. These seemingly banal images—of often mediocre quality—can quite literally help us picture the past.

The project had its share of challenges. As an instructor with little experience in American Indian and Indigenous studies, I spent the greater half of late summer 2017 reading and preparing for the course. I am indebted to the talented faculty in the AIIS program—like Keith Richote and Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote—who made reading recommendations and posed important questions like: How will you ethically perform American Indian Activism at UNC? Who will you invite to tell Native stories? The students, many of which were not Native, encountered challenges of their own. They wrestled with how to ask about identity and experiences without tokenizing the narrators. They also encountered the complexity of charged terms like “activism.” What could activism look like? And what did it mean if a narrator was doing work that seemed activist but eschewed the term? But they also found inspiration, like how the place-making work of Native people created a path for them to build their own Asian-American and Mexican-American community organizing.

In the end, students reviewed the interviews searching for moments that felt particularly powerful. They listed terms that evoked what they heard: Community, home, joy, isolation, dislocation. Students worked through these profound moments through ethno-poetry, a genre that invites the interviewer to break from standard writing conventions and transcribe an interview emotively, and finally the performance. [3]

Director Rachel Seidman began the 2017–2018 academic year stating how the interns (and field scholars) make everything happen. Without us, she noted, SOHP wouldn’t be the dynamic research center it is. Reflecting back on the academic year from the vantage of the intern instructor, I am incredible proud of the eight interns whose ideas and dedication made the American Indian Activism at UNC oral history collection what it is: a priceless resource for Native people and the broader UNC community.

Thank you Emma, Paola, Stella, Shannon, Blake, Lily, Kimberly, and Mina.

To listen to the full oral histories, visit our digital database.

[1] “We Are Still Here” is a phrase used by Native Americans to emphasize their reality in contemporary settings. This is significant because the American Indian is all too often imaged by non-Natives as a person of the past.

[2] This land acknowledgement was written by interns from Fall 2017 and stated before their culminating performance.

[3] The ethno-poems displayed below were written by interns and shared as part of the final performance.





Sonic South 2019: In Sickness & In Health

The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP), housed at the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, invites producers to use our interviews to create new and thought-provoking, short-form audio documentaries, sound art, sonic experiments, and aural landscapes. Producers are encouraged to think creatively about format, structure, and style. Since 1973, the SOHP has recorded interviews with southerners from mill workers to civil rights leaders to future presidents, which are available digitally through the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library.

For our 2019 Sonic South audio competition, In Sickness & In Health, we’re highlighting SOHP’s major research project, Stories to Save Lives. Producers will choose from interviews with Southerners about health, illness, and medical care in their own lives, in their families and in their communities. Your creativity can help us illuminate the power of these stories.

The top five finalists will have their work shared at a live listening room in April 2019 at the CURRENT Theater in Chapel Hill, NC. Two prizes will be awarded: the Sonic South prize, and Audience Choice award.

There are three rules for this competition. Final work must:

  • Be no longer than three minutes in length
  • Incorporate themes of health, illness, or medical care in the American South
  • Use at least two different voices from this curated collection of 15 SOHP interviews.

Entries are due on Friday, February 8, 2019 by midnight EST.

Learn more about the Sonic South and how to submit here.

Stories to Save Lives Project featured on WRAL

SOHP’s most recent research project was featured in a story on WRAL which you can read here.

Fall 2019 Undergraduate Internships

The deadline for applications is Monday, April 1 at 5PM EST. For more information and to submit an application, visit our Undergraduate Internships page.

The internship program provides experiential education in the intellectual, organizational, and practical work of oral history. Interns will work collaboratively on a research project focused the centennial of the 19th amendment, the multifaceted political and social impact of women’s suffrage, and how women across racial, class, and regional categories interact with electoral politics today. Interns will learn to conduct interviews and engage with the practice of oral history; assist with ongoing SOHP projects; collection management, digital exhibits, and public engagement; and participation in a weekly seminar that deepens academic understanding of oral history.

Four interns are accepted into the program and enroll in History 593: Exploring the US South Hands On and Ears Open: Internship at the Southern Oral History. Interns work a total of twelve hours per week (five hours of organizational work, five hours on the research project, and two hours of seminar). They will earn three hours of internship credit through the requirements of their home departments.

Questions can be submitted to Sara Wood:

Meet Our 2018 Fall Interns

Now with the new academic year in full swing, we are excited to introduce the interns working with us for the fall semester. They are pictured here with SOHP Project Manager, Sara Wood, who leads the weekly intern seminar.

Mitra Norowzi, Sara Wood, Caroline Taheri, Ellie Little

Mitra Norowzi is a junior from Raleigh, North Carolina who is studying journalism and Southern studies. Aside from working with us at the SOHP, she is also in her third year of working as an editorial assistant for our friends down the hall, the award-winning quarterly publication Southern Cultures. Mitra brings her desire to combine traditional news reporting and oral history to tell honest, diverse stories of the American South to her work here at the SOHP.

Caroline Taheri is a senior from Fairfax, Virginia who is studying psychology and minoring in medical anthropology. This past summer Caroline interned on Capitol Hill where she attended hearings and briefings and learned more about the legislative process. She brings her interest in health disparities, community outreach, and ethnographic research to her work at the SOHP. Caroline hopes to go on and earn a Masters of Public Health after graduation.

Ellie Little is a junior from Greensboro, North Carolina who is studying advertising and American Studies with a minor in Hispanic studies. She is interested in studying the role of media in how public school students receive and interpret stories. Outside of academics, she is the Vice President of the UNC Women’s Rugby Football Club.

Tell About the South: Stories to Save Lives

Anna Freeman, Ina Dixon, and Nicholas Allen conducted interviews over the summer as summer researchers for the Stories to Saves Lives Project. This project is focused on collecting oral history interviews in rural counties in North Carolina to understand perceptions and experiences of health, illness, and medical care. They will present their work through the Center for the Study of the American South‘s lunchtime conversation series, Tell About the South, on November 7 at 12:30 pm at the Love House and Hutchins Forum (410 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC).

The event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served. RSVPs to will be appreciated but are not required. The SOHP and the Center are located along free Chapel Hill Transit bus routes A, CL, D, F, NU, and U.

Tell About the South: Southern Mix

Tell About the South is a lunchtime series put on by the Center for the Study of the American South that features presentations from faculty, senior graduate students, and community members that focus on southern scholarship and specialized knowledge of regional topics. On October 17 at 12:30 pm this conversation will be provided by Southern Mix founder Anna-Rhesa Versola and undergraduate researcher Emmanuel Lee as they discuss their research and interviews collected over the summer with members of the Hmong and Filipino communities in Hickory, NC.

Southern Mix was inspired by Asian American UNC alumni, and focuses on collecting oral histories from Asian and Asian American residents of the Triangle, of North Carolina, and of the larger region of the South. For this project, the SOHP is collaborating with the Carolina Asia Center and the Alumni Committee for Racial and Ethnic Diversity to gather these personal biographies. This project will include a wide range of stories of escape, immigration, and cultural assimilation.

This event will take place at the Love House and Hutchins Forum where SOHP and CSAS are housed (410 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC) and is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs to will be appreciated but are not required. Our Center is located along free Chapel Hill Transit bus routes A, CL, D, F, NU, and U.