Voices of Southern Hospitality: Oral Histories from Life in the Lowcountry

The Voices of Southern Hospitality: Oral Histories from Life in the Lowcountry project is a student-driven and community-centered oral history project that documents the diverse opinions, experiences, and life stories of people who live and work in the Carolina Lowcountry.

The goal of the Voices of Southern Hospitality project is to create an archival collection that documents how the theme of southern hospitality intersects with issues of history and identity in the Carolina Lowcountry, and more broadly, with issues of tourism, development, social (in)equity, and environmental change. Emphasis is placed on interviewing community members who are often underrepresented in the historic record.

The multi-disciplinary methods of the project revolve around curating existing interviews for preservation and virtual access, conducting new oral histories for the project, and producing original written and recorded scholarly content for analysis and dissemination. Grounded in the disciplines of archival science and history, the project is designed to be an integrative and high-impact learning experience for students, providing opportunities to learn and practice oral history research methods – both theoretical and applied. It brings together formal studies with experiential learning to create student-teacher-community dialogues.

The project was launched in June 2018. During the first phase of the project, student researchers conducted over 50 interviews with Lowcountry residents. The Voices of Southern Hospitality project has subsequently hosted two public events at the College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library. During these events, students presented their reflections and described the ways in which their involvement in the project impacted their understanding of issues such as development, tourism, representation (or lack thereof) of historically marginalized people in the archival record, gentrification, and becoming culturally sensitive to the ways in which southern hospitality is defined by the region’s residents depending on their identities, occupations, and other lived experiences. The potluck style events were attended by interviewees, community members, other faculty, students, and staff.

Transcripts (Selected Interviews):
Ultimately, interviews conducted by the Voices of Southern Hospitality Oral  History project will be accessible online through the Lowcountry Digital Library but it takes time. In the interim, below are links to a few of the interviews we have conducted so far:

Dorothy Barnes
Alphonso Brown
Alyssondra Campaigne
Jessica Diaz
Donatella Della Porta
Bambi Downs
Benjamin (BJ) Dennis
Damon Fordham
Tamika Gadsden
Casey Glowacki
Shawn Halifax
Theresa Harris
Willie Heyward
Virginia Jamison
Jean Marie Mauclet
Melissa Ochal
Jon Ory
Peter Pierce
Queen Quet (Marquetta Goodwine)
Michael Shemtov
Jessica Stone
Donald Sparks
Carolyn Jublile White

Henrietta Woodward

Student Researchers:
Alexis Davis
Grace Albenesius
Aaron Aldstadt
Allie Astor
Sylvie Baele
Angus Gracey
Woodley Kate James
Thomas Lindenmuth
Tanya Matthews
Emilia Olson
Sanders Reese
Laura Robbins
Stella Rounsefell
Cori Simons
Shannon Wait
Alexis Wright
Ryan Zimmer

Faculty Advisors:

Mary Jo Fairchild, MA, CA, MLIS
An archivist devoted to collecting and preserving oral histories, Fairchild connects student researchers and interviewees with archival resources. She also facilitates access and preservation of interviews housed at the College of Charleston’s Special Collections.

Blake C. Scott, PhD
A historian with experience in archival and ethnographic research in the Caribbean and U.S. South, Scott mentors and guides undergraduate students building on concepts and content discussed in formal coursework such as INTL350: Deconstructing Tourism: History, Culture, and the Question of Sustainability.

Daniel Guttentag, PhD
A hospitality and tourism researcher, Guttentag works closely with the local tourism industry through his role as Director of the Office of Tourism Analysis, a partner for this project.

Project News and Resources

Essay: “Hurricane Hugo: We Are Still Recovering” by Angus Gracey
Presentation: Voices of Southern Hospitality: Selections from 2018 Interviews by Tanya Matthews, Alexis Wright, and Emilia Olson
Essay: “The Air We Breathe” by Angus Gracey
Essay: “Living Beyond Our Fears” by Alexis Wright

The project was launched in June 2018 with funding from the Committee for Innovative Teaching and Learning in the Liberal Arts and Sciences at the College of Charleston. Additional support in 2019 was provided by the Quality Enhancement Project’s Summer Research Fellowships for Sustainability Literacy at the College of Charleston. 

For more information about participating or contributing to the project, please contact faculty advisors Blake C. Scott and Mary Jo Fairchild.