Oral History Collections

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 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.
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.
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.
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, 1900-2003: https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/215.
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.
Karen Flint 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.
Legacy Interviews on the Charlotte Region
This collection represents a wide-ranging mix of interviews that were conducted between the 1970s and the early 2000s 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.
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.
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.
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.
Robert Smith 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.
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.
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.