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In spring 2015 and 2017, and fall 2017, SOHP’s director and history professor Dr. Rachel Seidman taught a course called “Oral History and Women’s Activism in the U.S. South,” an honors seminar designed to provide students with an overview of women’s activism in U.S. History. The class particularly focuses on the women’s movement in North Carolina and the South from the 1960s to the present.

Students dedicate thirty hours of service to the Southern Oral History Program for UNC-required experiential education credit. The honors undergraduate students learn the ins and outs of the collection in order to build their final projects.

Students tackle a variety of topics from women-only spaces, Triangle area women-owned small businesses, women’s activism in Appalachia, Ms. Magazine, surviving sexual assault and sexual education, women artists, lesbian publishing, and more. Often they approach the assignment with an ear to being entertaining and well as scholarly, and always engaging. Below we offer a selection from all three semesters with exhibition notes.
Jacquelyn Hedrick, Kelsey Sutton, Jasmine Kimber, Merrit Jones, Rachel Sanya
Fall 2017Women’s Activism in Appalachia

The group created this digital exhibit of interviews from the Southern Oral History Program specifically for you young women in the Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education program. After listening to oral histories from the “Postcards of Madison County,” they introduce audiences to the Southern Oral History Program and share some interesting things that they learned during the semester. The interviews were selected because of their focus on the leadership and activism of women in Appalachia.

 


Alexis Metzger, CJ Reuland, Roxana Ungureanu, Scarlett VanDyke, Mina Yakubu
Fall 2017, Voices of UNC Female Faculty: Then and Now

This exhibit pulls together various interviews from past and present female faculty at UNC. The experiences these women had throughout their time as students and professors varied, but there seems to be a trend towards improvement in gender relations in academia at the university. Professors such as Doris Betts, Jo Anne EarpConnie Eble who worked at UNC in the 1970s and 1980s reported a series of micro-aggressions and instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. Professor Jean DeSaix expressed the need for more women to “demand” equality in the world of academia. Many of these women have commented on an improvement in gender relations at the university over the years. However, there are still important issues that professors like Altha Cravey, a prominent activist who recently filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against UNC, are working to address. Through this exhibit, we hope to share these voices in order to shine light upon women’s issues that have plagued UNC in the past and that continue to be problematic in the present.

 

 


Kat King, Camden Alford, Sam Tate, Megan Raisle
Fall 2017, Women in Environmental Justice at its Birthplace: Warren County, NC

The story of Warren County, North Carolina has been and is continually reframed by different environmental organizations’ collective memory. And part of this story should include women. Women played an integral role in the events that took place in Warren County surrounding the PCB landfill, and their efforts are reflected in the intersectional nature of this movement regarding religion and community, race, and protesting that occurred. Since Warren County, women have continued to be essential in the work of environmental justice. This exhibit aims to share the history of Warren County and its PCB landfill through sharing the stories of women involved in this effort.

 

 


Anthony Bishop, Maiya Peterson, Lauren Trushin
Fall 2017, Women in Anti-Vietnam Activism

The importance of protesters against the Vietnam War cannot be overstated. From sit-ins to riots, people around the world were showing their opposition to the USA’s involvement in Vietnam. Behind many of these protests were women, whose stories often go untold. Because textbooks and historical novels largely focus on the wartime heroes on the battlefield and disregard the women behind the scenes, we will provide an overview on these overlooked activists.

 

 


Brennan Lewis, Jacob Larson, Katherine Whyte, Kimmy Albinus, Mitra Norowski
Fall 2017, The Lesbian Printscape

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Women’s Movement made heavy use of print media to accomplish its goals of organizing the feminist community into action. These print materials also served as stand-in community support for women who could not experience community support in person. The same was true, perhaps more so, for lesbian activists. As a distinct group that operated both within and outside the mainstream feminist movement, it was important for lesbian activists to have their own spaces for discussion and support. However, many women were not able to access physical meetups due to geographical isolation, or if they were closeted. These barriers were especially prominent for Southern lesbians, for whom rural isolation and conservative backlash were unique concerns.