An extensive collection of oral histories conducted by Lu Ann Jones throughout the southern United States between 1985-1991. A few oral histories were conducted by Pete Daniel in the early 1980s. Subjects include all facets of agriculture in the south.
Scope and Contents note:
The collection is divided into four series. Series 1: Oral History Transcripts, 1982-1991 are transcribed versions of the oral interviews. Correspondence and/or notes pertaining to the interviewed individual collected or written by the interviewer are filed in this series following the transcription. The majority of the oral histories were done by Lu Ann Jones between1985-1991. There are a few interviews done by Pete Daniel in the early 1980s and some reference copies of oral histories done elsewhere.
This series is divided into eight sub-series: Sub-series 1.1: Arkansas, Sub-series 1.2: Georgia, Sub-series 1.3: Louisiana, Sub-series 1.4: Mississippi, Sub-series 1.5: North Carolina (including transcripts of the Mexican Workers Project in English and Spanish), Sub-series 1.6: South Carolina, Sub-series 1.7: Tennessee, and Sub-series 1.8: Virginia. Files are arranged alphabetically by state and there under by name; within the file materials are arranged chronologically. Interview files may contain transcribed copies of the oral history interviews and subsequent draft copies with corrections by the interviewer or subject. The file also may contain distillations or edited versions of the interview done by the researcher for possible publication. Correspondence and notes files may include Life History Forms, correspondence, newspaper articles, interviewer's notes, business cards, and paper copies of photographs. Signed releases are on file in the registrar's office, NMAH, with copies in the control file of the Archives Center.
Series 2: Project Files and Reference Materials, 1928-2004 contain notes and correspondence kept by Jones in support of the oral history project. This series is divided into four sub-series: Sub-series 2.1: State Files, Sub-series 2.2: Project and Reference Files, 1985-1991, Sub-series 2.3: Reference Publications, Pamphlets and Articles, 1928-2004 and Sub-series 2d: Computer Floppy Disks, 1985 and undated. This series include bills, receipts, photo orders, travel brochures, reference materials, articles, correspondence, fundraising proposals and materials, USDA Extension Service bulletins, product cookbooks, and ephemera. These materials are valuable in documenting the methodology of the oral history project. They are also valuable in detailing the funding and maintenance of the project over its five-year lifespan. There is also a great deal of information on black farmers. This series is arranged alphabetically by state and county or by article/publication title and within the file chronologically.
Series 3: Photographic Prints and Slides, 1987-1991 documenting the individuals interviewed, their homes and businesses, and geographic locations that were studied as part of the oral history project. The series is arranged numerically then chronologically by year. This series is followed by detailed photographic descriptions arranged alphabetically by state then subject. Photograph files contain photographs taken by a Smithsonian photographer or Jones and any copies of photographs supplied by the subject. Most of the photographs are black and white.
Series 4: Original Interview Tapes and Reference Compact Discs (CD), 1986-1991 are the original tapes of the individual interviews conducted by Jones. This series is divided into eight sub-series. Reference numbers for CDs matching the original tapes are noted after the tapes. CDs 495-497 are for the Smithsonian Photographer's Show: Sub-series 4.1: Arkansas, Sub-series 4.2: Georgia, Sub-series 4.3: Louisiana, Sub-series 4.4: Mississippi, Sub-series 4.5: North Carolina (within this sub-series are the transcripts of the Mexican Workers Project there may be an English language transcription as well as one in Spanish), Sub-series 4.6: South Carolina, Sub-series 4.7: Tennessee and Sub-series 4.8: Virginia and Sub-series 4.9: Miscellaneous and Duplicates, within the sub-series tapes are arranged alphabetically by subject.
The collection is divided into four series:
Series 1, Oral History Transcript
Series 2, Project Files
Series 3, Photographic Prints and Slides
Series 4, Original Oral History Interview Tapes and Reference Compact Discs (CDs) are the original interview tapes and the accompanying reference copy cds.
The history of the American South is intricately entwined with the history of agriculture in North America. Until very recently, post 1950, the South was predominately rural and agricultural in both its production and culture. By the 1980s American agriculture, and particularly agriculture in the south, was under attack on various fronts especially cultural, financial, and technological. This assault threatened the very existence of the small and family farm. Many small farming operations went bankrupt and the face of American agriculture was becoming more corporate. It was amidst these troubling times that the Agricultural Division of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History undertook a massive project to document southern agriculture through oral history.
Through the efforts of NMAH staff, Pete Daniel, curator and project director, LuAnn Jones, researcher, and with countless support from staff photographers and personnel, Jones conducted approximately 159 interviews of individual persons, couples and sometimes small groups, in eight southern states over a five year period, 1986-1991. The project was funded by a series of grants from various sources. Not only were oral histories taken but also substantial documentary photographs and slides of the many interviewees. The interviews ranged from individual farmers to individuals at companies and corporations involved with agriculture. The range of crops discussed included tobacco, cotton and rice. The project interviewed a wide range of subjects: male, female, black, white, and Mexican. The project has contributed to at least two books, Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South by LuAnn Jones and Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall and others of which Jones was a contributing author.
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (NMAH.AC.0060)
Kulp Collection of Account Books, 1755-1904 (NMAH.AC.0149)
Robinson and Via Family Papers (NMAH.AC.0475)
William C. Kost Farm Records (NMAH.AC.0481)
Timothy B. Bladen, Southern Maryland Photoprints (NMAH.AC.0767)
A transfer from the Division of History of Technology (Agriculture), NMAH, July 2001
Collection is open for research. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Jones, Lu Ann, Petty, Adrienne, Shultz, Mark, Sharpless, Rebecca, and Walker, Melissa. 2010. "Agricultural History Roundtable Complicating the Story: Oral History and the Study of the Rural South: Lu Ann Jones, Adrienne Petty, Mark Schultz, Rebecca Sharpless, and Melissa Walker." Agricultural History, 84, (3) 281–326. https://doi.org/10.3098/ah.2010.84.3.281.
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