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Union Meeting, St. Francis County, Ark., 1937

From the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union Records (#3472), Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

From the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union Records (#3472)

The University Library's Southern Historical Collection contains unique and easily accessible primary source materials that are available for student research projects and classroom use. The collection contains more than 16 million discrete original documents in an almost infinite variety of formats including, letters, diaries, maps, ledgers, oral histories, photographs, literary manuscripts, drawings, sound and moving image recordings, pamphlets, and printed ephemera.

The American South

Our collection provides strong documentation of all periods of southern history and culture since the late eighteenth century. Topical strengths range widely, but especially prominent are plantation culture, the American Civil War, politics and political activism, race relations, religious experience, education, rural life, public health, southern writers, African American life, journalism, business, and family relations.

The World

An often overlooked aspect of our collection is that it contains a wealth of materials about the broader world. Southerners have traveled widely and their impressions of foreign lands were frequently remarked upon in the documents that they created and kept. We have the papers of confederate expatriates living in Brazil and Egypt, of missionaries proselytizing across Asia and Africa, of soldiers and sailors stationed in Korea and Haiti, and of diplomats posted to Imperial Russia and Mexico. These examples are illustrative rather than comprehensive and we invite you to search our collections for the places that interest you and your students.


Collection Orientation

You can schedule an introduction to our collections for your students. After consultation to determine your instructional expectations, our archivists will tailor their presentation to meet the informational needs of your class. Frequently discussed topics have included:

  • Elements of our collection relevant to your class
  • The nature and organization of archival and manuscript collections
  • The archival research process
  • The procedures for using our collections

Course Specific Services and Instruction

In addition to the more general information presented during a Collection Orientation, our archivists are able to collaborate with instructors to integrate our materials and researcher services more fully into a course syllabus. The support and resources employed by instructors and students have included:

  • Digital facsimiles for use in the classroom or on Blackboard
  • Materials placed on Reserve in our Department
  • Individual research consultations with students
  • Collaboration with faculty to design primary source assignments

This list of services is not exhaustive and our archivists would be delighted to discuss your instructional needs and our collections and resources. For further information, please contact Laura Clark Brown or Matthew Turi at or 919-962-1345.