Oral History Collections

Belk College Living History
UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business, in partnership with AISLE and Atkins Library, and in honor of the Belk College 50th anniversary during the 2020-2021 academic year, developed the Living History project. This set of interviews documents the growth and evolution of the Belk College, curating its history through the perspectives of emeritus and retired faculty.
Catawba Lands Conservancy Perspectives on Land Project
Perspectives on Land was a pioneering initiative that aimed to document the human face of land conservation issues in the Catawba River basin. It was sponsored by the Catawba Lands Conservancy and the LandTrust for Central North Carolina. The interviews explore what land means to people in North Carolina's Southern Piedmont, how their identities were shaped by the places they live, and how they hope their landscape will look in the future. The Perspectives On Land team worked with residents of four rural communities to document their relationships to land through interviews and photography. The project was designed in particular to include more diverse segments of the local population in discussions of land protection. Gabriel Cumming was the project director.
Charlotte Hip Hop Oral History Project
The Charlotte Hip Hop oral history project consists of interviews conducted by students in the Philosophy 3990 class taught by Dr. Mark Sanders. Interviews document the history of hip hop in the city of Charlotte and those involved in hip hop in Charlotte from its early days/ origins to the present, including local MCs, DJs/Producers, graffiti/visual artists & breakdancers.
Charlotte Jewish Historical Society
The Charlotte Jewish Historical Society, a project of the Carolina Agency for Jewish Education, collected these interviews, which are part of a much larger collection that has been ongoing for many years. UNC Charlotte worked with the Charlotte Jewish Historical Society to create transcripts of this group of interviews with the intention of making them digitally available through their website. The audio recordings feature prominent members of Charlotte's Jewish community who discuss the Jewish experience in the Queen City and chronicle the many changes they've seen throughout the twentieth century. Discussions focus on the burgeoning Jewish population, the creation of temples and a vibrant Jewish Community Center, and growing acceptance of and involvement of Jews in social and civic organizations. Interviewees also talk about their own personal experiences with Jewish education, statewide youth networks, and brushes with anti-Semitism.
Charlotte LGBTQ+ oral histories
The Charlotte Queer Oral History Project was established as a community-based project to capture oral histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people from Charlotte and its surrounding counties. The project was initiated in 2015 to complement the developing holdings of the King Henry Brockington LGBTQ+ archive. Initial partners included prominent individuals in the region's LGBTQ community and staff at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The project continues to plan for future additions of oral histories representing a broad range of the region's LGBTQ+ experience.
Charlotte Medical Community
The Charlotte Medical Community Collection is a grouping of interviews conducted with medical professionals in the Charlotte region. The interviews represent a wide cross section of local medical history and were conducted by a variety of interviewers, including staff of Special Collections, students in the UNC Charlotte history department, and others. Topics discussed in this collection include public health, segregated medical facilities and services, hospitals, pediatric care, and substance abuse treatment.
Charlotte Pride Oral History Project
The Charlotte Pride Oral History Project is a program of Charlotte Pride. The Project seeks to document, collect, preserve, and present local and regional LGBTQ and Pride Movement history in Charlotte and the broader Carolinas region through a mix of archival research and oral history interviews with local LGBTQ people and Pride Movement organizers.
Charlotte Regional Oral History
This collection represents a wide-ranging mix of interviews that were conducted between the 1970s and the present to document many aspects of life and culture in the Charlotte region. Interviewees include prominent individuals from the Charlotte area such as journalists, business leaders, and activists, as well as many ordinary citizens representing different sectors of Charlotte society during the twentieth century.
Civil Rights Activism on Campus
The collection consists of oral history interviews with former students and faculty who played an important role during the Civil Rights period at UNC Charlotte, including Ben Chavis and T.J. Reddy. Interviews conducted by library staff Lois Stickel and Bridgette Sanders as part of a larger research project.
Civil Rights and Desegregation in Charlotte
The Civil Rights and Desegregation in Charlotte collection is a grouping of interviews that were conducted by UNC Charlotte Atkins Library Special Collections staff with activists for civil rights in the Charlotte area. The interviewees include prominent local members of the NAACP, as well as a high school principal, a civil rights lawyer, and a church minister.
Cultivating Common Ground
For the Cultivating Common Ground project, middle and high school youth from the Wilmore neighborhood in Charlotte, NC interviewed the senior citizens who work in their neighborhood's community garden. The teens documented the seniors' life stories and their interest in gardening on video and audio and also through photography. Additional materials available in J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte include a book, a student-produced video and promotional material. The project was funded by a grant from the Community Cultural Connections Program of the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Inc. and the Grassroots Grant Program of the North Carolina Arts Council. Additional support came from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Enterprise Foundation, the Junior League of Charlotte, Wing Haven Gardens and private donors. June Blotnick, currently Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina, was the director of the project.
David Goldfield Student Project on Change in the Charlotte Region
The Goldfield collection consists of interviews conducted by UNC Charlotte upper level undergraduate students in Dr. David Goldfield's history classes between 1990 and 2006. The purpose of these interviews was to chronicle the significant changes that occurred in the Charlotte region from the 1930s to the beginning of the 21st century. The interviews document the transition of rural areas in the region, whose residents benefited from the increased job opportunities that the rapidly expanding city offered and from the economic development and technological advances it brought to their communities. The collection also illustrates the notable in-migration of people from other parts of the country to this region in the latter half of the 20th century.
Ed Perzel WSOC Project on Twentieth Century Charlotte
In 1979, UNC Charlotte history professor Dr. Edward Perzel and a handful of dedicated volunteers conducted oral history interviews with elderly citizens from across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The project was sponsored by WSOC, a local media company, and initial interviews took place between May 21 and May 25 at the main branch of the Charlotte Public Library as part of Older Americans Month. The interviews capture an eclectic range of reminiscences on local history from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.
Grier Heights
Grier Heights was formed by newly freed African Americans as a settlement outside Charlotte's city limits in the late 1800s. Starting in the 1930s the community was further developed by businessman and community leader Arthur S. Grier. Today, Grier Heights is experiencing significant change as part of the expanding urban core of Charlotte. This collection consists of interviews with members of the Grier Heights community, bringing awareness to the issues and successes of neighborhood members.
Historias de Vida: Life Stories from UNC Charlotte
Historias de Vida documents the lives and experiences of UNC Charlotte's Latinx community members. At the time of the interviews the Latinx community was the fastest growing demographic in North Carolina and UNC Charlotte was enrolling and graduating more Latinx students than any other four-year college or university in North Carolina. With the increased presence of Latinx students on campus there was also a growth of campus organizations established to serve the needs and interests of the Latinx community.
Historic Rosedale Oral History Collection
The Historic Rosedale oral history collection includes interviews conducted by staff and volunteers at the Historic Rosedale house museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the goal of enriching the site's research, programming, and community engagement efforts. The project seeks to include diverse voices that speak to the varied experiences of Historic Rosedale's former residents, both free and enslaved, as well as their descendants, neighbors, community members, and contributors to the site since its transition to a museum.
International House of Metrolina
This collection of oral histories is composed of interviews with members of the International House, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping immigrants settle in Charlotte and facilitating international cultural exchange. The interviews were conducted by graduate student, Madison Rhinehart as part of her M.A. thesis in History in 2018 and 2019. Interviewees include executive directors, the program director, and a student intern. Topics discussed include personal motivations for working at International House, Charlotte's growth in international awareness over recent years, and experiences at International House. (Information sourced in part from the International House website, https://www.ihclt.org/, accessed November 9, 2021.)
Interviews about Robert E. Scoggin
These interviews were conducted by UNC Charlotte graduate history student Ruth Faye Griffin on behalf of Special Collections during 2004 and 2005 to document the life of Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon Robert E. Scoggin. This small collection includes two interviews with Scoggin's daughter, Peggy Scoggin Holland, and one interview with his son, Jonathan Scoggin. Related to these interviews are the papers of Robert E. Scoggin, https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/215.
Interviews with Bonnie Cone
This series consists of multiple interviews conducted with UNC Charlotte founder Bonnie Cone during the 1970s and 1980s. Sixteen of the interviews, recorded from December 1987 to May 1988, were conducted by Dr. Ed Perzel, former Chair of the Department of History and Associate Dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UNC Charlotte. During these interviews, Perzel and Cone discuss a number of topics relating to the creation, survival, and development of the Charlotte College Center into Charlotte College and later into UNC Charlotte. Among these topics are faculty and staff recruitment, fundraising and building political support, board members and donors, campus site selection and architectural design, athletics, student recruitment and college experience, Charlotte College's relationship with other universities and colleges in North Carolina, Cone's involvement in other organizations, and the development of Carver College and later Central Piedmont Community College. Interview 7 focuses on Bonnie Cone's childhood, youth, and early adult life.
Interviews with Gail E. Haley
In this series of sixteen interviews, Gail E. Haley, a prolific author born in Charlotte, North Carolina and the first of only two authors to win the American Caldecott Medal and the British Kate Greenaway Medal for picture book illustration, discusses her life and career as a children's author and illustrator. Throughout the interviews, Ms. Haley describes her artistic process, detailing her inspirations and research as well as techniques she employed and pioneered in order to illustrate her works. She also notes her many influences, including her father (George C. Einhart), Joseph Campbell, and Carl Jung.
Interviews with Loy H. Witherspoon
This collection includes interviews conducted with Dr. Loy H. Witherspoon (1930-2017), who worked closely with UNC Charlotte's founder, Bonnie Cone on the development of the university beginning in 1964. He led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972. He served as president of the UNC Charlotte faculty, as founder and director of the campus Office of Religious Affairs, and as faculty advisor to the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. The Loy H. Witherspoon Lectures in Religious Studies were established at UNC Charlotte in 1984 to honor him for his tenure of distinguished service. He retired in 1994 after 30 years of service to UNC Charlotte and its predecessor, Charlotte College. He was granted status of professor emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies and continued to be active in university life until his death. Born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930, Dr. Witherspoon graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. Witherspoon was an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick on the Legacy of Slavery in Mecklenburg County
Native Charlotteans Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick discuss their ongoing journey together after discovering that their family histories were interwoven through the institution of slavery. Although they were both classmates at Myers Park High School in the mid-1960s, it was not until almost fifty years later that a newspaper article recounting the injustice Jimmie Lee had faced as a thwarted contender for the Shrine Bowl brought the two classmates into contact with each other. As their friendship grew the Kirkpatricks stumbled on their shared history as the descendants of slave owner and slave, which launched their public dialogue to explore the implications and legacy of slavery both in their personal lives and in Mecklenburg County.
Keeping Watch: City of Creeks
Keeping Watch: City of Creeks includes video interviews with individuals, pairs, and groups of people about their experiences with Charlotte Mecklenburg creeks and rivers. The interviews were conducted by history graduate student Tenille Todd in cooperation with Mary Newsom, Associate Director of Urban and Regional Affairs at the Urban Institute. The interviews were part of Keeping Watch, a three-year initiative (2014-2016) led by the Urban Institute, the College of Arts and Architecture, and independent arts curator, June Lambla of Lambla artWORKS. The interdisciplinary project invited artists, historians, writers, scientists and environmental groups to engage the public around environmental issues.
La Coalición
The La Coalicion project was created to document the first thirty years of the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte, North Carolina. The project was conceived in relation to the thirtieth anniversary of the Coalition as a way to preserve oral recollections of the organization, its growth and the impact it has had on the Charlotte community as a whole.
Levine Museum of the New South
The Levine Museum of the New South collection is divided into thirteen series that cover a variety of historical topics related to the Charlotte region during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Museum staff, student interns and consultants conducted the interviews between 1990 and the early 2000s. Many of the series were created as an accompaniment to museum programming during this time, while others reflect a desire to document a disappearing local history. Subjects explored in these interviews include religion, civil rights struggles, the lives of women and minorities, a local business's culture, and changing trends in the region.
Memories of Bonnie Cone
This collection consists of interviewees recounting their memories of Bonnie Cone.
Mining Memories CLT250
These oral history interviews took place during the 250th anniversary of the founding of the City of Charlotte at UNC Charlotte on December 3, 2018. Students, faculty, and members of the public were invited to sit for an oral history interview recorded in J. Murrey Atkins Library's Area 49 EZ Video Studio. Participants were asked to introduce themselves and describe when they came to the Charlotte area. They were then asked to select from a list of 10 questions about the Charlotte region and 10 questions about UNC Charlotte to answer.
The Motorsports interviews were recorded between 2006 and 2017 on the recommendation of NASCAR photographer T. Taylor Warren. Warren notified Special Collections about the potential to interview "old timers" within the motorsports community, who met annually at events including gatherings of the Old Time Racing Club and the Virginia-Carolina Dirt Racers Association. In addition to Warren himself, interviewees include drivers and their close relations, mechanics, pit crew members, and NASCAR employees. Topics of discussion range across the gamut of motorsports, and include motorsports as a pastime and as an industry; the nuts and bolts of racing; and the motivation and passion of drivers, their crews, and devotees.
Navigating the Unprecedented: Student Reflections on 2020 and 2021
Navigating the Unprecedented: Student Reflections on 2020 and 2021 is a collection of interviews created by students as part of the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 LBST 2301 courses taught by Professor Thomas "Joe" Howarth within the Honors College at UNC Charlotte. The project asked students to serve as oral history interviewers and narrators, relating their experiences of this unprecedented time in their own words. In the interviews students reflected on their, their family's, their communities, and UNC Charlotte's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students tell stories of strength, struggle, and societal upheaval as the pandemic changed their lives and as it brought to light the realities of racial inequality and injustice.
Niner Nation Remembers Oral History Project
The Niner Nation Remembers Oral History Project is a collection of oral history interviews exploring interviewees' experiences and reflections concerning the April 30, 2019 campus shooting at UNC Charlotte, in which Reed Parlier and Riley Howell were killed and four others were injured. Participants in this project include UNC Charlotte students, administrators, staff, and faculty as well as first responders and law enforcement officers. Interviews cover personal experiences on the night of the shooting, emergency response and recovery efforts, and reflections on the impact to individuals and the extraordinary strength and resilience of the campus community.
Open Schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg
These interviews discuss the history and significance of open schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. Coinciding with court-ordered busing and following a national trend in education, three optional open school programs were opened in Charlotte-Mecklenburg in the early 1970s, including Irwin Avenue Elementary School, Piedmont Middle School, and West Charlotte High School. From the beginning these schools were supported by a diverse parent body, including many community leaders, and their popularity persisted for over three decades. This body of interviews was conducted by Special Collections staff and students of Piedmont Middle School between 2004 and 2006, as part of a project originally inspired by a celebration of the school's 80th anniversary in 2005.
Organizing for social justice on campus
This collection was created by students under the direction of Dr. Thomas J. Howarth as part of their Critical Citizenship and Community Service LBST 2301 classes in the 2019-2020 academic year. The focus of the class was to capture first-hand accounts to document social justice organizing efforts on UNC Charlotte’s campus during the previous four to five years. Three initiatives are represented in the collection: the creation of Peace Haven, a meditation space that resulted from combined efforts of the Muslim Student Association in conjunction with the Interfaith Niners; on-campus protests organized by the Black Student Union with other student groups in response to the police-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016; and community action organized by student group Customer 49 to protest actions and policies of UNC Charlotte and the administrators of the UNC System.
Student Project on Second Ward
UNC Charlotte graduate students conducted the interviews in this collection in 2004 and 2007 as the centerpiece of a class on "Oral History and Memory" directed by professor Karen Flint. They titled their project and website the "Brooklyn Oral History Project," reflecting the popular local name for Second Ward in uptown Charlotte. Brooklyn, a thriving African American neighborhood from the early to mid-twentieth century, became Charlotte's first urban renewal project. City planners largely demolished Brooklyn's neighborhoods and businesses during the 1960s to make way for a new government center and city park. The oral history project sought to document Brooklyn's history, including social, cultural and economic aspects of the neighborhood; how Charlotte residents were affected by its destruction; perceptions of why the district was targeted; the process of negotiation between city officials and community members over compensation for loss of property; and how various stakeholders understood the projected outcomes of the neighborhood's demise. The majority of interviews represent people who lived in or were closely involved with life in Brooklyn, although project members also sought the voices of policymakers involved in the urban renewal process.
Student Project on the Charlotte African American Community
These interviews were conducted by UNC Charlotte students for a class in African Studies taught by Dr. Robert Smith between 2004 and 2006. The project was titled "Talk, Listen, and Learn: The Charlotte African American Oral History Project," and the purpose of the project was to chronicle and collect the histories of a wide cross-section of African Americans in the Charlotte area from the middle decades of the twentieth century until the mid-2000s.
Telling Our Stories: Black Alumni
The Black Alumni oral history project documents UNC Charlotte's Black Alumni by collecting first-hand accounts of the lives of Black students over the decades. This alumni-driven project was inspired by interviews we have already gathered, notably that of James Cuthbertson, Jr., who was a member of the Black Student Union in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Era Before Brown v. Board of Education
These interviews were conducted by Special Collections staff to complement a Levine Museum of the New South award winning exhibit titled "Courage: The Carolina Story That Changed America," which was mounted in 2004 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case. The interviews focus on the educational experiences of members of the African American community of Charlotte during the era of segregation. Many interviewees also discuss how things changed once segregation ended and their children's school experiences.
The Queen's Garden: Oral Histories of the Piedmont Foodshed
The Queen's Garden: Oral Histories of the Piedmont Foodshed explores the rewards and challenges of those who have currently and historically participated in and helped to create the North Carolina Piedmont region's foodshed. By documenting the oral histories of farmers, gardeners, ranchers, gleaners, and individuals contributing to other food distribution efforts, the project was designed to portray the sometimes unexpected and creative ways that local food production and distribution have occurred and changed over time. Interviews include seventeen farmers, nine livestock producers, four community gardeners, a beekeeper, a feed mill operator, and six community activists involved in food re/distribution. Graduate students in Dr. Karen Flint's Oral History and Memory class at UNC Charlotte conducted the interviews in the spring of 2019.
UNC Charlotte Administration, Faculty, and Staff
This collection consists of oral history interviews with UNC Charlotte administration, faculty, and staff.
UNC Charlotte Honors College and Charlotte Action Research Project Interviews on Charlotte Neighborhoods
This collection documents the history of several of Charlotte's inner core neighborhoods through the recollections of community members. Residents of Optimist Park, Washington Heights, and Druid Hills share their life stories and discuss their neighborhoods, offering insight into the significance of community, the human cost of neighborhood change, and the shifting landscape of affordable housing in Charlotte. As gentrification increases in Charlotte, a risk exists that the unique history of these neighborhoods, built through the experiences and efforts of its residents, will be lost. These interviews, conducted by students from the UNC Charlotte Honors College and Action Research Project, aim to counter that risk and encourage further dialogue about the significance of neighborhood.