What is History’s Role in Transformative Renewal?

An early twentieth-century promotional booklet about Rocky Mount Mills in North Carolina boasts that the mill doesn’t owe its modern success to its past. “Though proud of its history,” the booklet opines, “the management [of Rocky Mount Mills] has never been immersed in the past...[rather,] funds have been bountifully supplied...in the efficient production of dependable cotton yarns of a high and uniform quality.” (more…)...
Read More

CHW Statement of Principles

Established in 2016, the Community Histories Workshop (CHW) works with local communities to recover, preserve, and share the memories, stories, and materials that reflect the multi-layered histories of place.  By helping to connect past to present we believe that communities can envision more just, inclusive, and democratic futures. We are pleased to share the Community Histories Workshop Statement of Principles, endorsed by the CHW team in January 2018. As the CHW began its second year in the fall of 2017 with an expanded team and new opportunities, we embarked on a semester-long strategic planning initiative.  It  involved creation of a more transparent and efficient organizational structure, consultations with key university and area leaders, and the forging of a statement of principles to guide our practice and announce to current and prospective partners who we are, what we do, how we work, what values inform our work, and why our work is important both to the university and to the communities in which...
Read More

Raleigh’s New Dix Hill Park: Recovering the History of Dix Hospital for Future Generations

Reading Room, New East 211 | Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 12:30-1:45 PM Please join us for a lunch-time presentation and discussion of the transformation of the Dorothea Dix Hospital site into a “destination” park, and the role of the Community Histories Workshop in recovering the long history of that site. The presentation on Dorothea Dix Hospital will take place in New East 211 on Wednesday, February 14th from 12:30pm-1:45pm. From 1856 to 2012, Dix Hospital was the state’s principal insane asylum. For 150 years prior to 1856, Dix Hill, as it was called, was part of the Hunter family plantation. After the closure of the facility, the 308-acre site was purchased from the state by the City of Raleigh so that it could be repurposed as one of the largest new urban parks in the U.S. The Dix Park Conservancy Board was formed to facilitate planning and design of the park and has engaged the nationally renowned landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh...
Read More

The CHW Releases “Stories of the Mills”

The Community Histories Workshop would like to announce the release of Stories of the Mills, the first round of transcribed oral history interviews relating to Rocky Mount Mills. Many of these interviews were conducted during the Rocky Mount Mills Worker Reunion event on October 29, 2016, and they tell the story of life at the Mills. All six oral histories are hosted on Prospect, a web-based plugin for WordPress. They include not only the interviews themselves but also transcriptions of each interview that correspond to the ongoing conversations. These interviews are a window into the past of Rocky Mount Mills. Lorene Smith was born in the mill village and began working at the Mills before World War II. In her interview, she offers an overview of her forty-year career working in the spinning room. In contrast, Tommy Moss and David Rackley only worked at Rocky Mount Mills during high school, but their interviews still describe growing up in the mill village...
Read More

CHW Staff Opportunity

The CHW is pleased to announce that we will be adding a one-year, full-time staff position to coordinate the next phase of our work in Rocky Mount. The full position description has been posted on the "Careers at Carolina" website: https://unc.peopleadmin.com/postings/124984 Applications and supporting materials are accepted only through this portal. The UNC-Chapel Hill Community Histories Workshop (communityhistories.org ) announces a one-year position in public history and public humanities to lead Rocky Mount Mills: From Adaptive Reuse to Public Engagement, a community history and archiving project funded through a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives and Records Administration. Responsibilities of the Social Research Specialist/Project Coordinator include but are not necessarily limited to: *support project Principal Investigator, Professor Robert Allen *serve as project manager and team leader for the project, coordinating effort by all participants and contributing units *coordinate project administration with the staff of the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies *coordinate the work of the project’s graduate fellow *working with...
Read More

New Pinboard Visualization Released

The Community Histories Workshop has recently created a new digital exhibit to explore the history of Rocky Mount Mills. Similar to the Digital Archive, this exhibit uses Prospect, a web-based plugin for WordPress. It is based on Prospect’s Pinboard visualization function and allows the user to explore spatial connections between historical sources relating to Rocky Mount Mills and the geography of the mill and surrounding mill village. We began our construction of the Rocky Mount Mills Pinboard Visualization with an aerial shot of the mill taken by Rocky Mount Evening & Sunday Telegram photographer Charles Killebrew. Based on our research, we believe that the images dates from sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The photograph provides a detailed perspective on the Tar River in the foreground, the mill, and the streets of the mill village, and downtown Rocky Mount is even visible in the background. We chose this specific image because it displays important culture structures that were town...
Read More

Lynching in the American South Workshop

On June 12 and 13, the Community Histories Workshop will host "Lynching in the American South: A Workshop."  Led by Seth Kotch and Elijah Gaddis, the workshop will bring participants into the work of the CHW and especially our project The Red Record.  Participants will learn about lynching in North Carolina and around the South, be introduced to and practice some new digital tools, and help us expand the project to other states around the South.  You can learn more and register for the workshop here: http://lynching.web.unc.edu/2017-workshop/ .   ...
Read More

Building the Digital Archive

We started the Rocky Mount Mills Digital Archive as a way to gather together some of the thousands of archived items from the mill's two hundred year history. We started with digitized items from three main repositories: the Rocky Mount Mills Photo Archive and the Rocky Mount Mills Awards, 1970s-1990s, both hosted by the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Charles S. Killebrew Photographic Collection, 1948-2001, hosted by the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since these first items went up, we've continued to add more items to our online collections. There are photographs, newspaper articles, letters, posters, and other items housed in collections throughout North Carolina. Some are in formal archives–like the Rocky Mount Mills Records and the Charles Killebrew Photographic Collection at UNC, or the many collections at Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount. Other collections are in family homes and attics and...
Read More