Sept. 8, 2021
Where are we now, Carolina, 20 years after the fall of the towers stopped our hearts? Twenty years after we lost 2,977 people who had just started another day of helping, growing, feeding, building, inspiring and protecting...Read More
July 19, 2021
The University has again become a target of race-based hate speech and actions, as two men bearing Confederate flags desecrated UNC’s Unsung Founders Memorial on July 10. The following Monday, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz responded in...Read More
April 15, 2021
A university that prizes it oral history collection now wants students to leave their voices behind and for alumni to bring theirs back. University Libraries has launched the UNC Story Archive as a way to...Read More
The Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library will use a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help establish a permanent African-American Collections and Outreach archivist.
The new position will lead an effort to collect untold stories of African-American communities, something the Southern Historical Collection views as critical to improving historical research and understanding. The library has begun working to raise $1.5 million required to meet the grant challenge.
“To have a conversation about race, you must first have an honest dialogue about history,” said Bryan Giemza ’99 (JD), director of the Southern Historical Collection. “That requires access to a complete documentary record, reflecting a full range of perspectives and experiences.” (After receiving his law degree from UNC, Giemza also earned a master’s degree from Carolina in 2001 and his doctorate in 2004.)
In addition to acquiring significant materials for the Southern Historical Collection, the archivist will partner with African-American communities in the South to help them tell their stories by identifying and preserving documents, recordings, photographs and memorabilia.
Carolina archivist Chaitra Powell believes this emerging model of “community-driven archives” already has proven fruitful.
“My work with communities is about helping them curate their own history in a way that is responsive and respectful,” she said.
Powell and the Southern Historical Collection already have realized successes through a partnership with the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance; relationships with the African-American communities of the Triangle; and a collaboration with sociologist Karida Brown and the historically black coal mining town of Lynch, Ky., which is building a community archive.
“Thanks to the NEH and private supporters, we will be able to sustain this work far into the future,” Giemza said.