Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Southern oral history is latest focus of University center

Preserving Southern voices is the idea behind the upcoming event for the Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South. The center will be presenting an academic talk titled “Southern Voices, Digital Spaces” Thursday in the Alabama Institute for Manufacturing Excellence building.

According to its website, the mission of the Summersell Center is “to investigate and promote understanding of the history and culture of the American South through research and public programming.”

Joshua Rothman, professor of history and African-American studies, is the director of the center and plans many events dedicated to the history of the South.

“Basically, the center exists to further research on the South and bring programming showing as many aspects of the Southern past and present as possible,” Rothman said.

The center has paired up with the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to bring awareness to preserving oral history. UNC’s program dedicates itself to recording interviews of people’s accounts of Southern historical events and immortalizing them on the Internet.

“History is made of the voices of the past,” Rothman said. “So having as many of them as possible marks the ongoing building of an irreplaceable archive.”

Seth Kotch, the digital projects director of the Oral History Program, will be speaking at the event. He said he looks forward to sharing the program’s efforts and ideas with The University of Alabama and contributing to the Summersell Center’s work.

“The Summersell Center is an awesome digital humanities center that’s been doing really good work in the field,” Kotch said. “I was honored to be asked to come, and I’m glad to come share what I can.”

Rothman said he is also excited about the talk and that Kotch is a very knowledgeable source for information on digital humanities.

“Mr. Kotch’s position as digital projects director puts him right at the intersection of Southern history and digital history,” Rothman said. “Having him come to campus is a perfect opportunity for the Summersell Center, which endeavors to bring a wide array of programming in Southern studies.”

Kotch will be speaking about the numerous projects the Oral History Program runs to promote oral history. These projects include “The Media and The Movement,” which focuses on journalism from the 1960s, and “The Oral Histories of the American South,” which relies heavily on digital humanities.

“It’s a collection of 500 little oral histories that we’re working to make accessible and listenable online,” Kotch said.

Because digital humanities is a developing field, Kotch said he believes the talk will be a learning experience not only for the audience, but for himself.

“It is an exciting new field that’s exploring new ways of thinking and learning,” he said. “I’m hoping I’ll be able to learn something from [the audience’s] reaction to the projects that I’ll be talking about.” For more information on the Southern Oral History Program, visit, and for the Summersell Center, visit


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