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From the Southern Oral History Program, this is Press Record: a podcast about the joys and challenges of learning history by talking to those who lived it.

In honor of Black History Month, our second episode features the SOHP’s ongoing project on Back Ways. As you’ll hear, Back Ways, or black roads, were paths African Americans used during the Jim Crow era to avoid potentially violent interaction with whites. In this episode, you’ll hear a conversation between two American Studies scholars, Seth Kotch and Kimber Thomas, discuss the project; you’ll hear from Darius Scott and Betsy Olson, two Geography scholars at UNC, talk about how oral history helps geographers map the rural South; and you’ll hear advice from historian Ashley Farmer on how to find back ways out of difficult moments during interviews.

You can listen to Episode 2 below through Soundcloud, and please subscribe and rate us on iTunes.

Backways Image
Photograph by Tom Magnuson.

Please email us at with comments, questions, and ideas.

Stay tuned for our next episode coming in March 2016 in honor of Women’s History Month.

Supplemental Materials

Visit Darius Scott’s blog on the Back Ways project here.

Visit the Trading Path Association’s blog here.

Visit Seth Kotch’s faculty page here.

Visit Betsy Olson’s website here.

Visit Ashley Farmer’s website here.

The six oral history clips featured in this episode have not yet been processed. Please visit our interview database projects page here, or search through our entire collection here for materials on segregation in the rural South.


Episode 1: Silence Speaks Volumes

Episode 2: Back Ways

Episode 3: Feminism and Oral History

Episode 4: LGBTQ Southern Oral History and Activism

Episode 5: Pet Sounds

Episode 6: Sweet Emotion

Episode 7: Oral History for Movement Building

Episode 8: Voices From Charlotte

Episode 9: Veterans and Oral History

Episode 10: Women and Politics in the South

Episode 11: Oral History and the ERA

Episode 12: Revisiting “Back Ways”

Episode 13: New Roots/ Nuevas Raíces