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oral histories of the American South

"Oral Histories of the American South" is a three-year project to select, digitize and make available 500 oral history interviews gathered by the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP). These 500 are being selected from a collection of over 4,000 interviews, housed at the Southern Historical Collection, that cover a range of fascinating topics. This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Charlotte: Integration is a major focus of these interviews. A large portion of the interviewees were students at West Charlotte High School during its transition from a traditionally black school to an integrated one. Other important topics include business and politics in Charlotte.

Civil Rights: Race and civil rights are subjects that naturally appear across all five of the areas represented by these interviews; this group of interviews focuses largely on integration at Lincoln High School in Chapel Hill and the roles of African American employees at the University of North Carolina.

Environmental Transformations: A group of 21 interviews focusing on environmental issues across the state of North Carolina.

Piedmont Industrialization: Textiles have long been a vital part of the southern economy, a fact amply reflected in these interviews, but other sectors have also grown in importance over the past several decades. In addition to mill workers, interviewees include business leaders who have contributed to the changing business landscape in the South.

Southern Politics: These oral histories stretch back to 1973, the very beginning of the Southern Oral History Project, and include many interviews with prominent politicians from across the political spectrum. Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Andrew Young appear in this collection along with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and Jesse Helms.

Southern Women: These interviews reflect the influence of women in science, medicine, education, law, politics, activism, as well as in factories, where a significant portion of the workforce was and is made up of women.