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Julia Peaks de-Heer describes her childhood in both Stagville and Durham, North Carolina, focusing primarily on her experiences living on Hopkins Street during the 1950s. Throughout the interview, themes of community solidarity, decline, and improvement dominate, with an emphasis on de-Heer's activities with the Greater Zion Wall Church in later years.
Born and raised in Oxford, North Carolina, in the early twentieth century, Lillian Taylor Lyons discusses her family history, her education, and her career as a teacher. Lyons also speaks at length about race relations in Oxford, arguing that Oxford was especially "forward-looking" in comparison to other southern communities.
William E. White Jr. describes his encounters with religion, race, and sexuality.
Kanwal Rahman, who arrived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from Bangladesh in 1991 to study public health, describes her enduring connection to her homeland and her struggle to adjust to the American way of life.
Ebson V. Dacons recounts his career as a black administrator of segregated and desegregated public high schools in Wilkes County, North Carolina.
Mary T. Mathew, an immigrant from India and an assistant professor at North Carolina Central University at the time of this interview, describes her successful assimilation into American culture and its effects on her family.
In this 1979 interview, Nell Putnam Sigmon describes her upbringing in a large family, her decision at age eighteen to take a job sewing women's gloves, her work in the mill, and her experiences as wife and mother of two children.
The daughter of tenant farmers during the 1930s and 1940s, Ethelene McCabe Allen reflects on her family history in this interview, paying particular attention to her maternal and paternal grandparents, her parents' childhood experiences, and her own relationship with extended family during her childhood in North Carolina.
Ran Kong, who immigrated to the United States from Cambodia at a young age, reflects on her life as a Cambodian-American and on her immigrant identity.
Southern novelist Harriette Arnow discusses what it was like to grow up in Kentucky during the 1910s and 1920s. The teacher-turned-writer focuses especially on her family relationships, her experiences in school and in teaching, her goals as a writer, and her views on marriage and family.
Louise Pointer Morton describes life in rural Granville County, North Carolina, during the early twentieth century. In addition to describing social gatherings and living conditions, Morton speaks at length about her formerly enslaved grandmother's role in the founding of the Jonathon (Johnson) Creek Church, alluding to the centrality of religion as a preeminent social institution within southern African American communities.
Kay Yow, a pioneering women's basketball coach, discusses her childhood in Gibsonville, North Carolina, and her early experiences playing basketball. She discusses her experiences as a coach, her philosophy of leadership, and the challenges facing women's athletics.
Josephine Dobbs Clement talks about her various civic roles, including her activity as a member of the League of Women Voters, the Durham City-County Charter Commission, the Board of Education, and the Board of County Commissioners. She also discusses her efforts on behalf of social justice and her views on race, gender, and environmental issues.
Mill workers Carl and Mary Thompson describe their experiences as skilled employees and active members of their local communities.
Cornelia Spencer Love, granddaughter of Cornelia Phillips Spencer and sister of Burlington Industries founder J. Spencer Love, discusses her long relationship with the University of North Carolina, the town of Chapel Hill, and its black community.
Kathryn Killian and her sister Blanche Bolick recall their upbringing near Conover, North Carolina, and their careers making gloves.
Ethel Marshall Faucette describes the working environment and social life of the Glencoe mill town in Burlington, North Carolina. Faucette worked at Glencoe Mill from 1915 to 1954 and she explains the changes to workers' lives over her decades of employment.
George Miller describes his career as a black administrator in desegregated schools.
Ellen Black Winston was born and raised in North Carolina. She received her doctorate in sociology in 1930. Actively involved in issues of social welfare in North Carolina, Winston was appointed as the North Carolina Commissioner of Public Welfare in 1944 and went on to become the first United States Commissioner of Welfare in 1963. In this interview, she describes problems and opportunities for professional women, her goals to improve standards of social welfare in North Carolina, and her work with various branches of government.
Marguerite Tolbert worked throughout her life as an educator in South Carolina public schools and universities for adult education. She describes her education and high school graduation through stories from her book,
South Carolina's Distinguished Women from Laurens County. She recounts how she earned a scholarship to Winthrop College and met her teaching colleagues Wil Lou Gray and Dr. D. B. Johnson; describes local activism for women's suffrage between 1914 and 1920; and recalls encounters with leaders, including President Hoover and Jane Addams. She concludes by discussing the controversy at Winthrop College over a discrepancy in female teachers' salaries.
Longtime Chapel Hill, North Carolina, city councilman Joseph A. Herzenberg describes his experiences as a gay man in a southern town.
Nancy Holt, raised in North Carolina's Cane Creek community and a member of the Cane Creek Conservation Authority, discusses the reaction of the community when UNC and the Orange County Water and Sewer Authority attempted to build a reservoir in Cane Creek.
Zeno Ponder is one of the most respected and influential leaders of Madison County, North Carolina. This interview begins with his descriptions of his family's activities in the area and local political traditions. Ponder briefly describes his experiences at local schools, including Mars Hill College. Ponder became involved in local politics through a training program and his brother's campaign for sheriff.
Civil rights activist and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) mentor Ella Josephine Baker outlines her family history, traces her growing radical tendencies, and explains the catalysts that pushed her into public activism. In this interview she discusses her work not only with SNCC, but also with the Workers' Education Project, the Cooperative League, and the NAACP.
Investigative reporter John Seigenthaler discusses his early career as a journalist at
The Tennessean of Nashville during the 1950s, his work with Robert F. Kennedy during the 1960s, and his role as the editor of The Tennessean into the mid-1960s. Seigenthaler focuses on the unique nature of southern journalism and the homogenization of southern culture during the 1960s and 1970s.
Julia Virginia Jones traces the development of her professional career, which culminated in a federal judgeship. She illuminates the impact her gender had on her growth in the legal field.
John Broadus Mitchell grew up in a family that held to liberal politics and believed in community involvement. Educated as an economic historian, Mitchell conducted extensive research on the establishment of the cotton textile industry in the South following the Civil War. In the 1920s and 1930s, he advocated for labor rights, spoke out against racial violence, and socialist politics.
George Elmore discusses a life that took him from farm labor to mill management in rural North Carolina.
Beginning with her family background and early childhood, Adamson traces the dynamics that led her to adopt her radical stance later in life. She also responds to the accusations that she had been a Communist spy and explains how the Red Scare affected her life.
Former North Carolina Governor Robert W. (Bob) Scott recalls his early life and describes his ascent from the lieutenant governorship to the governor's mansion.
Mary Turner Lane was the first director of the women's studies program at the University of North Carolina. In this interview, she discusses the beginnings and the evolution of the women's studies program at UNC.
Pediatrician James Slade and his wife, Catherine, discuss their experience of race and medicine in Edenton, North Carolina.
Mars Hill, North Carolina, town manager Darhyl Boone fondly remembers his childhood in Madison County but worries that small-town values are being eroded by development.
Mareda Sigmon Cobb and her sister Carrie Sigmon Yelton both worked long careers in North Carolina textile mills, completing the family journey from farm to factory in the early decades of the twentieth century. Here they describe their family lives both as children and parents, the many implications of the Depression, working conditions in the mills, religion, and other themes central to social and labor history. The economic and material realities of textile employment are explored in detail; each suffered a major injury on the job, neither favored unionization (though their husbands did), and neither received a pension.
This is the final interview in a series of three with Virginia Foster Durr. Since the previous session, Clifford Durr had died, making the interview feel very different from the two in which he had taken part. The interview begins with Durr's growing awareness of racial matters and her activism during their life among the New Dealers in Washington, D.C. Among the topics she touches on are the anti-communism of the 1950s, sexual discrimination on Capitol Hill, and the southern reaction to Roosevelt's New Deal policies.
George and Tessie Dyer discuss their jobs in Charlotte cotton mills and their lives outside of work. They describe their childhood and the work their parents and grandparents did. They recall the parties and social events that their friends participated in after work. The interview ends with their observations about local union activity.
Virginia Foster Durr discusses her early life and how she became aware of the social justice problems plaguing twentieth-century America. In this first part of a three-interview series, Durr describes her life on the plantation when she was a child; race issues in Birmingham, where she grew up; and how her views began to change when she left Birmingham to attend Wellesley College.
Geraldine Ray has lived in Barnardsville, North Carolina, nearly her entire life. In this interview, she describes growing up on her family's farm, attending all-black schools, and caring for sick relatives and friends. She describes racial segregation as a problem that seemed less difficult to avoid than segregation and prejudice between local black residents. Geraldine learned several essential skills of farm life from her grandmother and then used them to support the family through illness. The interview concludes with a description of her husband—a childhood friend—and how they chose to raise their children.
Geddes Dodson worked as a textile mill employee for sixty years. During that time, he progressed through the factory's employment hierarchy, seeing many different aspects of life within the mills. He often focuses on issues involving masculinity and unionism.
Mildred Price Coy discusses the development of her egalitarian ideals, her involvement in various justice movements during the twentieth century, and the societal changes she witnessed.
Ralph Waldo Strickland grew up on an Alabama farm before joining the navy and later making a career with the Seaboard Railroad. He offers a range of recollections concerning his childhood in the rural South, his encounters with the Roosevelts following their relocation in 1921 to Hot Springs, Georgia, and life as a railroad worker and union member.
Icy Norman recalls her long working life, most of which was spent at a textile mill in Burlington, North Carolina.
Septima Clark served as a board member and education director for the Highlander Folk School and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1950s and 1960s. She links her activism to the memory of her parents' struggles with poverty and racism. She also describes how community relations functioned within the NAACP and SCLC. Her plans for increasing community involvement, protecting the labor rights of black teachers, and educating black voters were often ignored because she was female. She discusses why these types of gender roles persisted in the SCLC and the role of leaders in the black community.
In this fast-paced 1975 interview, Virginia Foster Durr remembers her growing awareness of social problems in the South, and continues sharing her life stories through 1948. Along with her husband Clifford Durr, Virginia recounts their move to Washington, D.C., particularly her disaffection with social society and her transition to political action.