The Community Histories Workshop is dedicated to making accessible, digital projects that tell local histories. We’re a team of students, faculty, and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  We are eager to engage other faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and university staff in this work.  We also partner with other university units (at UNC and beyond), cultural heritage and historic preservation organizations, libraries and archives, and community volunteers.  As part of the Digital Innovation Lab at UNC, we focus on using the resources and expertise of the university to reveal the important and multifaceted histories of communities across North Carolina.

The roster of CHW participants will grow and change as the workshop’s agenda develops.

Founding Members and Administrative Leads

kotch photo Seth Kotch (sethkotch@unc.eduis assistant professor of digital humanities in the Department of American Studies, and the first faculty hire under the Andrew Mellon Foundation supported Carolina Digital Humanities Initiate.  He works at the intersections of a number of fields, most prominently modern American history (specifically the social and cultural history of criminal justice), digital humanities, and oral history. His digital projects include “Playback Station,” a public-facing interactive sound curation project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities that shares and contextualizes historic radio broadcasts and “Mapping the Long Women’s Movement,” an experiment in empowering researchers to explore oral histories in new ways. He is developing two other digital projects, one which will digitize and present archival material on criminal justice in North Carolina, the other of which will use oral history and documentary material to explore racial geographies in the rural South.

He served as Co-Principal Investigator of “Media and the Movement,” an NEH sponsored project exploring the role of journalists and the media in the civil rights movement; and of Digital Civil Rights Radio, which is digitizing and curating historic radio recordings. He served as PI and Project Supervisor on the Civil Rights History Project, a nationwide oral history research endeavor administered by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress.

elijahphotoElijah Gaddis (elijah@unc.eduholds a B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from North Carolina State University, and an M.A. in Folklore from UNC.  He is currently completing his dissertation for a Ph.D. in American Studies from UNC. A longtime public historian, Elijah’s primary research interests are in the built landscapes, cultural, and material life of the American south. His current project focuses on the emergence of African American celebratory culture in the urban landscapes of the 20th century south. He is the first person to be awarded the Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Humanities at UNC Chapel Hill.  A long-time participant in the digital public humanities projects mounted by the Digital Innovation Lab, Elijah has played a lead role in Digital Loray, particularly the building of its online archive and other exhibits. In 2015, he worked with Seth Kotch to develop “The Red Record,” one of the first public history projects to make use of the university’s unique collection of digitized historical newspapers in conjunction with access to genealogical information via

Allen photo

Robert Allen (rallen@email.unc.eduis the James Logan Godfrey Professor of American Studies.  His research focuses on American cultural history and the application of digital technologies to history and the humanities more generally.  He has written and edited a number of books on the history of U.S. popular entertainment.

His work in digital humanities includes “Going to the Show,” an online digital resource documenting the history of moviegoing in North Carolina, which was awarded the American Historical Association’s Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History in 2011, and “Main Street, Carolina,” an ongoing program for engaging with cultural heritage organizations in N.C. in the creation of digital history projects.  For this project he received the first C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities at UNC-CH in 2009.  He was scholarly advisor for “Standing on a Box,” a multi-faceted public humanities project organized around Lewis Hine’s 1908 photographs of child textile workers in Gaston County.  The project was awarded the first Harlan Gradin Award for Excellence in Public Humanities in 2009.  Since 2013 he has been Principal Investigator for Digital Loray.  He was Co-Principal Investigator (faculty lead) for the $5 million Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative (2012-14).  From 2011 to 2016, he was Director of the University’s Digital Innovation Lab.

Graduate Research Fellows

Melissa Dollman ( is pursuing her Ph.D. at UNC in American Studies. Prior to UNC, she was a cataloguer, librarian, audiovisual archivist, consultant, intern, volunteer, adjunct faculty, exhibit developer, and researcher for a variety of commercial and public institutions (Pacific Film Archive, Women In Film Foundation, UCLA, Academy Film Archive, Discovery Communications, Schlesinger Library/Harvard University, Crawford Media Services, State Archives of North Carolina, and North Carolina State University). Scholarly projects include employing video annotation tools to facilitate documentation of archival labor and citation of audiovisual primary materials in nonfiction works. See

filippo, benBen Filippo (bfilippo@live.unc.eduis Executive Director of Preservation Durham and a Ph.D. student in American Studies.  He studied History at Tufts University and Economic Development at SOAS (London). He has worked as a consultant for non-profit and for-profit entities, small and large, and has run his own small business.

profile imageLucas Kelley is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is generally interested in the nineteenth-century South, especially how slavery affected state governance and state power at the national, state, and local, and levels. He is attracted to digital humanities because of its ability to make history more accessible and engaging for students, academics, and the general public.

Undergraduate Research Fellows 

Dani CDani Callahan (dani411@live.unc.eduis a junior at UNC currently pursuing degrees in Global Studies and History. Her interests lie mainly in foreign relations and the international community, but she enjoys the field of public history because of the way it uses multiple interdisciplinary skills to make the unique history of a space accessible to those who live and work there. She believes the skills she has learned in digital humanities have helped her to be a more involved and educated member of her own community and could help connect people around the world with their own histories.



Christina Kochanski ( Christina Kochanski is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill, studying Economics and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Her interests include writing, history, soccer, and cooking. She plans to attend law school in the fall of 2017.




Emily Lowe ( is currently completing her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill.

She is double majoring in English and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. An aspiring documentary filmmaker, Emily’s interests lie in the untold stories of individuals that, when compiled, work to explore community, culture, and public history in a greater scheme. Emily participated in the Digital Loray project, working to document the story of a social worker living in the Loray community building for a brief period.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-02-10-amMorgan Vickers (mpvick@live.unc.eduis a junior at UNC, currently pursuing her BA in American Studies and Communication Studies, with a minor in Creative Nonfiction. Her interests lie primarily in popular culture studies, the emergence of African American culture following the Civil War, and the reconstruction (and deconstruction) of the lives of everyday people throughout history through the use of primary-source materials and digital archives. She enjoys the field of Digital Humanities because she loves the ways in which it combines multimedia, original research, and historiography in order to create writing that is entertaining, eloquent, and so entirely engaging.


Jp Doban ( is currently a junior at UNC, majoring in Economics and double minoring in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship.  He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and got his first taste of North Carolina when he moved to New Bern at the age of ten.  An aspiring entrepreneur, he spends most of his time juggling his schoolwork, job, and own personal startups, all of which he thoroughly enjoys.


Affiliated Scholars

photo-of-b-bernetiae-reed-250-x-250-pxB. Bernetiae Reed is passionate about African American history and heritage. In 2015, she acquired a Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Additionally, she is a registered nurse and has worked in that field most of her life. Since the fall of 2014, she has volunteered and worked part-time for the Southern Historical Collection, in Wilson Library’s Special Collection Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill, focusing on oral history interviews and genealogy. Bernetiae is an author and has produced a couple of documentaries. She was born and currently lives in Greensboro, NC.


Affiliated Staff

newton, michael photoMichael Newton ( is the technical lead for the Digital Innovation Lab and Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative.  He received a B.A. in Computer Science from the Univ. of California San Diego, and a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh.  In 2007 he was awarded a Digital Humanities Initiative grant from NEH to create a digital collaboratory for Celtic Studies, and he is currently working on a digital project entitled Celtic Poets of North America.  He is the lead developer for Prospect, a plugin for WordPress that enables users to collect, curate, and visualize digital humanities data.   Prospect  has been approved for use in all UNC and Duke University WordPress sites.


Will Bosley (wbosley@unc.eduis the General Manager of the Digital Innovation Lab.  From 2007 to 2015 he served as the manager of UNC’s Beasley Multimedia Resource Center.  He received his BA in Technical Theatre from Ohio State Univ. and a Masters of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University.  He has taught and lectured on visual storytelling, building virtual worlds, and audio design.  He has provided technology support for numerous live theatrical and musical performances.  In his role as General Manager of the DIL, he has served as project manager for Prospect and for multiple digital humanities projects.