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March 29, 1999 – No. 218

Story ideas for the 25th anniversary of the Southern Oral History Program

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall: Profile the founding director on the stellar alumni she’s trained, how she created the South’s first oral history program, and the Southerners she’s interviewed, including early civil rights activist Virginia Durr. Hall’s research spawned a biography and a documentary on Durr, whose obituary appeared recently in The New York Times. ABC TV is considering a movie on Durr’s life.

Hall and a colleague interviewed Durr in 1975, she said: "We expected two or three hours, maximum, but eight hours later we were still there, and she was still going, and we were still on her childhood, just fascinated. She was probably one of the great characters of Southern history -- incredibly funny, an incredible storyteller, and incredibly outspoken. She had this rich, rich story to tell, and she told it in a way that was so quintessentially Southern -- full of vivid images and scenes and characters and anecdotes."

After March 29, Hall can be reached at 919-942-1218 or jhall@email.unc.edu . Among former Hall students available to speak with the media:

The Southern Oral History Program (919-962-0455) can provide names and numbers of other professionals whom Hall taught.

Oral history’s role: Interview Hall or her former pupils -- locally, program assistant director Dr. Spencie Love and Carolina history professor Dr. James Leloudis -- on the need for oral history and how it differs from written records. Love can be reached at 919-962-0455 or slove@email.unc.edu. After March 29, Leloudis can be reached at 919-962-2372 or leloudis@email.unc.edu.

Russ Rymer: Interview this former Hall student, scheduled to speak at the April 8 program, on how he used oral history techniques to produce his insightful book on race relations, "American Beach: A Saga of Race, Wealth and Memory." Rymer credits Hall with teaching him how an interview fits into a larger picture, plus interview techniques used throughout his career of writing for the Atlanta Constitution, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and other publications. He can be reached at 323-467-7882 (California).

"Listening for a Change: North Carolina Communities in Transition": Interview Love, the program’s assistant director and head of this new project, on how she and her colleagues plan to capture voices of the late 20th century.

"Listening for a Change" local angles:

Other Southern Oral History Program projects:

"Southern Business History Project," Joe Mosnier, documenting 20th century transitions in North Carolina business history, 707-942-8247 (California) or mosnier@grapedoctor.com.

"Women’s Leadership and Grassroots Activism," Alicia Rouverol, interviews and video on women activists statewide, 919-317-4244 or ajrouver@email.unc.edu .

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For more information and other local story ideas: Southern Oral History Program Assistant Director Dr. Spencie Love, 919-962-0455, slove@email.unc.edu.