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The Southern Oral History Program Diaspora

Fri, October 18, 8:15 to 9:45am, Sheraton SLC Hotel, Wildcat

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


Since its founding in 1973, the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill has created one of the most important archives about the American South. The program has also mentored generations of oral history practitioners who have spread its distinctive philosophy to academic and public history venues throughout the country, and beyond. Founding director Jacquelyn Dowd Hall remained committed to democratic program management; building a collection of oral history research about southern workers, women, and civil rights activists; teaching oral history methods; and public outreach. These elements have remained constants, yet they have also evolved as digital technologies expanded ways to reach new audiences and succeeding generations of students and staff introduced new topics and concerns. What was the particular pathway that the Southern Oral History Program created? How has that pathway changed over time? How does it differ from other graduate training programs? What can different kinds of oral history programs learn from each other? Two of the program's directors and several of its alumni share their experiences and describe how the SOHP diaspora has influenced oral history practice. More generally, the roundtable invites a conversation about approaches and ideas that all oral history programs can consider as they chart their own course and seek to invigorate their work.

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