Social, Political, and Economic Activism
The SHC has for a long time acquired collections documenting efforts to bring change, in one direction or another, to the South, and efforts to resist such change. The records of such organizations as the Penn School and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union reflect a traditional collecting focus on groups and individuals who worked against the dominant cultural grain for changes in the plight of farmers, mill workers, African Americans, and others. Individuals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, like Howard Odum, Paul Green, and Frank Porter Graham, also have worked for liberal progressive change, and contacts growing from these efforts have led to numerous acquisitions. Less common, but not less important, have been acquisitions of materials representing individuals and groups that have opposed changes in race relations and other aspects of the cultural, social and political status quo.
The SHC recently has established an intentional collecting focus on social, political, and economic activism, and seeks substantive materials reflecting the efforts of individuals and organizations campaigning for change in civil rights, working conditions, gay rights, women's rights, public health, and the environment, as well as papers of those who have argued the other side of these issues. These materials include correspondence, personal journals, photographs, speeches, organizational records, and other materials that can provide historical perspective on the changes that have occurred in the South in the last half-century, on those who have worked to bring it about, and on those who have opposed it.