Southen Oral History Program

Founded in 1973, the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) conducts oral histories and provides training for future oral historians. Under the leadership of history professor Jacquelyn Down Hall, it grew into a nationally recognized program. While the program interviewed some prominent and well-known people, a major focus was on capturing voices that would otherwise be marginalized or simply absent from the historical record. In 1987 Hall and several of her colleagues published Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World, an influential work that drew on oral histories to explore the lives of mill workers in the early twentieth-century South.

The SOHP has been recognized as a national leader in oral history practice and education. In 1999 Hall was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton in recognition of her work and that of the SOHP. After Hall's retirement from the program in 2011, subsequent directors have continued to expand the work, engaging undergraduate and graduate students in the active practice of oral history. Its collection of more than 6,000 interviews is housed in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library and available online. Originally based in the Department of History, the program is now part of the Center for the Study of the American South.