Skip to content

Malinda Maynor Lowery Named Director of the Southern Oral History Program

The Center for the Study of the American South proudly announces Malinda Maynor Lowery as the new director of the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Her appointment began on July 1, 2013. Lowery will serve as the second permanent director of the SOHP, which was founded in 1973 to preserve the voices of the southern past and will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Housed at the Center for the Study of the American South, the SOHP has collected and analyzed more than 5,000 interviews—from mill workers to civil rights leaders to future presidents of the United States.

Lowery, Associate Professor of History, is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Her book, Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation (UNC Press, 2010), received the 2011 Labriola American Indian Center National Book Award, presented by Arizona State University, and Best 2010 First Book from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Lowery has produced four documentary films about Native American issues, including the award-winning In the Light of Reverence, which aired on PBS in 2001 to over three million people. Two previous films, Real Indian and Sounds of Faith, examine Lumbee identity and culture, and the most recent is an online video for Native survivors of domestic violence featuring the Lumbee and Eastern Band Cherokee tribes ( Her current book project is a history of the Lumbee tribe for a general audience, forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press.

Lowery holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Literature from Harvard University, a master’s degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford, and a PhD in History from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her previous teaching appointments include Harvard University, North Carolina State University, Duke University, and San Francisco State University.

“Professor Lowery has a distinguished record as a scholar and is highly regarded nationally and internationally for her expertise in the methodologies of oral history.  She is a bold, creative, and thoughtful leader, well versed in the diverse cultures and historical perspectives of the South, and her academic vision will lead the Southern Oral History Program into its next great era,” said Jocelyn Neal, Director of the Center for the Study of the American South.

Lowery will succeed Professor of Performance and Cultural Studies Della Pollock, who was Interim Director of the SOHP between 2011 and 2013, and Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Founding Director Emerita and Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History at UNC. Hall said she “could not be more thrilled by the great strides the SOHP has made under Interim Director Della Pollock or by the news that Malinda Lowery has agreed to take the helm. Professor Lowery is a brilliant scholar and visionary leader who is perfectly positioned to enhance the SOHP’s national reputation for collaboration, mentorship, public service, and scholarly and technical innovation, while also taking the program in bold new directions.”

“I am honored to serve as director and look forward to building on existing partnerships and establishing new areas of research,” said Lowery. “I believe that SOHP is absolutely critical to UNC’s continued standing as a top-tier public research institution. SOHP and CSAS have been a hub for the expansion of thought about what ‘the South’ is, and, accordingly, the SOHP collection has drawn more and more attention from scholars and students all over the world.”