The Southern Oral History Program: Rachel Seidman and Jaycie Vos

Rachel Seidman of the Southern Oral History Project
Rachel Seidman, Director, SOHP

The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP), founded in 1973, documents the stories of individuals across the American South with its extensive oral history collection. The histories are housed at the Southern History Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as part of the Center for the Study of the American South. Today, the SOHP provides an amazing opportunity for collaboration between historians, archivists, and researchers. Not only do they continue to gather important stories of the South, the SOHP also hosts a well-known podcast. Press Record — “a podcast about the joys and challenges of learning history by talking to those who lived it” — is an amazing resource for those of us continuing to learn how to conduct oral histories. The Nuevas Raíces: Voces de Carolina del Norte project is also a product of an SOHP collaboration with the Latino Migration Project and the UNC University Libraries.

Jaycie Vos, Coordinator of Collections, SOHP
Jaycie Vos, Coordinator of Collections, SOHP

[True] Stories was lucky to help bring historian Rachel Seidman and archivist Jaycie Vos to Davidson College for a discussion with students of Professor Kelly and Professor Christian Lamb’s Oral History course. We hope you enjoy this recording of their wonderful talk about oral history methods, Nuevas Raíces, and their experiences working for the Southern Oral History Project!



The [True] Stories Project Presents Daniel Horowitz Garcia, StoryCorps Regional Manager


The [True] Stories Project and Rollins College is proud to host

Daniel Horowitz Garcia, StoryCorps Regional Manager

in an hour-long talk, workshop, and Q&A about StoryCorps and Oral History

Tune in through our [True] Stories YouTube Channel

Reposted Blog Post 4

On September 22, 2016, I interviewed Scott Wilson, a physical therapist who has been working at Physiomed for sixteen years. Having the interview with Scott opened my eyes to different perspectives of a physical therapy career. I was amazed to hear from Scott that since high school he knew that he wanted to be a physical therapist and ruled out all other medical professions. Not many people can say that ever since grade school, they knew right off the bat they wanted to be in a specific profession and pursue it until finally going into that profession. I was surprised to hear how many concepts from class Scott talked about during the interview such as active listening and therapeutic listening. From his interview, I took away some key lessons that could help me in my future endeavors. I realized how important active listening is to patients when working on their treatments plans. Although many patients come see Scott on a daily basis, he mentioned how important it is to give ones full attention to what the patient is saying, and take the time to understand their points of view. He mentioned that an active listener is one who acknowledges the patient and is interactive (nonverbally and verbally) while a passive listener does the opposite. Furthermore, being able to communicate to the level of the patient is a critical point in a physical therapy profession because it allows the patient to understand what you know about their condition and how to go treatment. Scott couldn’t stress enough to me that its important to go beyond just simply treating the symptoms of the patient, but rather understand the patients “why” and be able to educate patients about their condition and how its affecting their activities of daily living. After our conversation with Scott, It inspired me to continue pursing a career in physical therapy. In the past summers, I did shadow for Scott at Physiomed so it was helpful to interview him and learn more about the profession. I was able to get on a deeper level with him and understand the responsibilities, and important characteristics of a successful physical therapist.

Although the interview was an enjoyable experience, Scott and I experienced couple barriers and challenges. The first one was that I had trouble scheduling a time to interview. With Scott’s busy schedule, it was hard to set a time and day that would work for him when he wasn’t with a client. We decided that the best time would be the weekend since he leaves middle of the day. Knowing Scott’s hectic lifestyle with work and his family, it is a challenge for him to find a couple minutes for lunch or dinner. He is always working and doesn’t have the time for himself during the week. The second barrier I found while interviewing Scott was when he was eating and talking to me simultaneously. I felt that some of the questions took him longer to respond to because I could hear him eating in the background and he was probably more focused on his food than the question. I was understanding of the circumstances and continued on with my question. This could be considered a physiological barrier since he was exhausted and he just wanted to rejuvenate himself. Although these barriers arose during the interview, it did not make Scott’s responses unimportant or less accurate. He took some time to think through some questions, but overall he responded thoroughly to them, and I learned a lot of useful information from him.

My overall interview experience was great, and I learned a lot of valuable advice on interacting with patients and what it takes to be an excellent physical therapist. I am continuing to learn about this inspiring profession everyday, and I hope to one day become as successful of a physical therapist as Scott.

Blog #4

Before conducting this interview I was extremely nervous. Prior to this interview I have never interviewed anyone before. I don’t even like to talk on the phone due to the fact I do not like my voice. This experience was a great learning experience because I learned so many things I didn’t know. I thought I had an idea of how firefighting work but I never knew all the ins and outs until after I was finished conducting this interview. I never took the time to think about all the prepping and hard work firefighters have to do. I wouldn’t say it came as a surprise that they work so hard but it was very interesting that they have to prepare so much such as work out, train and prep clothes. I knew that listening and communication played a role in firefighting but I did not know that listening was the most important aspect of firefighting. Nina Stone said over and over that the best firefighter is one who listens because if you don’t listen you can fail the mission and/or lose a team member. I never thought about the barriers a firefighter can face until Nina brought it to my attention. Nina said focus is a key part of firefighting, especially when you are on a mission. The most challenging part of conducting this interview was trying to find a perfect time to actually sit down with Nina Stone. I am glad I chose to interview Nina Stone because not only did I learn about firefighting but I also learned a few life lessons that I will never forget. Overall I would say that this interview was a success but I could not have don’t it without the help of several classmates, professor Stone, and of course Nina Stone herself.

Blog Post 4: A Reflection

Prior to this assignment, I had not interviewed anyone previously — especially a working professional. The entire experience was rather interesting because, although I have come in contact with those in the service industry before, I have never analyzed their experiences on the job. While spending my initial college years grabbing food at The Porch, I came in contact with Sophie, a hardworking waitress. However, like many individuals, I merely focused on spending time with those whom I was eating with, rather than the restaurant workers themselves. I was aware of Sophie and knew she provided excellent service, but I never acknowledged the barriers to listening she faced daily.
During the interview process, Sophie frequently mentioned that communication and listening were the most important aspects of her job. If she failed to listen to her customers, they may end up unsatisfied. Additionally, the customers may not give Sophie a generous tip at the end of the meal. Sophie also mentioned that external barriers existed while she was on the job, including music playing, sports games being displayed on the televisions, and physiological barriers. If she could not listen to her coworkers or customers effectively, she may be fired for not completing her job as well as she should.
The interview process was challenging in itself. It was difficult to agree on a meeting time because we were both busy. Moreover, once we found a day, it was sort of nerve-wracking to begin the process. Sophie had never been interviewed before and I had never interviewed someone myself. My interviewee felt nervous speaking into a microphone, which may have affected the interview process. Additionally, although I had many questions prepared in advance, Sophie spoke rather quickly and our interview ended sooner than I expected and hoped for. It was challenging to think of additional questions and improvise once I went through my prepared questions. However, I believe Sophie understood that I needed a certain time length for my project and tried to answer questions more in-depth. Ultimately, the entire process was a lot easier and went a lot more smoothly than I thought it would. I learned many things about Sophie as a person, as well as the service industry in general.

Blog #4

“How important is listening in your field of work?” This was one of the first questions I had asked when I began my interview with Mike, a personal trainer. He immediately answered, “all I do is listen.” I did not find his answer surprising for many reasons. One of the reasons is because listening is a human necessity and is used in everyday life. It is applied to all professions out there. Another reason I did not find his answer surprising is because personal trainers have to pay attention and listen to what their clients are saying. Especially when they talk about the possible prior injuries they may have had that may prevent them from performing certain exercises.


However, what I did find surprising was when Mike said he uses a lot of therapeutic listening in his work. I did not quite understand what he meant by that. He went on to explain that he has to listen to what is going on in the lives of his clients. Mike said this was a way to get closer with a client. He mentioned this was kind of a business tactic and went on to say that keeping clients is much more difficult than finding clients. In order to keep his clients coming back he has to become friends with them and learn more about their personal lives. He said this was also largely due to the fact that majority of his clients are between the age of 50 and 75. His clients don’t have many people to vent out to in their lives so they vent to him. He is totally fine with it because it is part of his job and part life.


There were a few challenges/barriers when conducting the interview. One of them was the commotion going on in the background. The interview took place at the gym he works at, so there were still some people working out in the background. Another challenge was to keep the interview going longer. He was not prepared for the questions I had for him and that is the reason he was giving in depth answers to only a few of my questions. We discussed many topics other topics as well such as the supplement industry and nutrition. He went on about the common misconception about supplements and how a lot of people rely only on supplements. He said people need to listen and understand the word “supplement” because they should be used to supplement you when you are not able to put together an actual meal. Mike was surprised and also intrigued about our class when I told him about it. In his opinion, listening is the most important tool in communication. Overall I enjoyed and learned a lot from this interview.

Blog Post 4

When I interviewed Jimmy, a physical therapist, I felt as though it was a very enlightening experience. We covered a variety of topics, including patient-provider communication, education for physical therapists, and the healthcare industry as a whole. I also gained some insight into how effective communication can contribute to the successful outcome of rehabilitation treatment. There were really no challenges or barriers to conducting the interview.

Jimmy explained that listening is perhaps the largest aspect of his job on a daily basis. He has to listen to patients’ problems and concerns regarding treatment as well as any sort of nonverbal expression of pain. He told me that many of his patients exhibit behaviors such as wincing or favoring an injured body part without actually telling him that something hurts. It then becomes his job to be attentive to those symptoms and resolve the issue swiftly. Physical therapy demands skilled listeners, and Jimmy says that gaining experience is the only way to develop such a skill.

Education for physical therapists has evolved significantly since Jimmy obtained his certification. When I probed him more on the subject, he said that the shift to more biology-oriented courses has made education on patient relations less significant. Instead of focusing so much on biology and anatomy, Jimmy says that more classes in communications and psychology would be beneficial to up and coming physical therapists. It would also prepare them more for the day-to-day interactions that they have with their patients.

The healthcare industry is something that has transformed the business model for any physical therapy clinic. In my interview, Jimmy explained to me that without larges monopolies, his small clinic would have had to shut down. The introduction of the Affordable Care Act removed a lot of choice for people seeking physical therapy, so they had to join a much bigger organization with many branches across the state of Florida in order to survive financially. He said that healthcare reform would provide them with the opportunity to compete again instead of being part of a conglomerate of clinics. It is an issue that has yet to be resolved, but Jimmy expressed his dissatisfaction with the barrier of cost and skyrocketing medical care costs. He is hoping that something gets done in order for the physical therapy industry to improve.

My interview with Jimmy was a compelling discussion about the field of physical therapy, the improvements that could be made to the educational curriculum, and the desire for a healthcare system that would allow the clinic to compete independently. Moreover, his knowledge of effective communication with patients was fascinating to listen to. Physical therapy is more than just treating an injury, it about the whole person, and I think that is something that Jimmy understands very well. Overall, it was an engaging interview with a lot of interesting insight into the world of physical therapy.

Blog Post 4

For my TRUE Stories project I interviewed an estate litigation lawyer. I had some prior knowledge about the law going into the interview because I have some relatives who also practice but I was still a little apprehensive about the interview process. My interviewee is a very intelligent person and has been practicing law for many years now so I really got the full insight into what a day in the life of a lawyer is like. It was a very interesting experience; interviewing someone for that long period of time because I have never done it before. I thought that it would become painful with my repetition of asking questions but she did a great job with keeping the conversation lively and giving me responses that I could give feedback and spin off a new question with. It was also interesting to look at a practice like law in terms of the way of listening. I had some clue that law required a decent amount of listening because of clients, judges, and mediators but I had no idea how important it really was. She said that it is one of the biggest parts of her job and she has to practice listening 24/7 while she is at the firm’s office. We did not face many challenges or barriers during the interview in terms of between the interviewer and interviewee but we had to conduct the interview over the phone and I had to record it through my computer. There were some times where the channel of the message became a bit static and was hard to hear at certain parts of the interview. Other than channel of communication there were not many barriers to our interview. I believe that success in the interview came with how easily the conversation flowed. I had lots of questions written out but I only ended up using a handful of them because our conversation was able to spark new questions with almost every response. Overall, I found the project to be very interesting and very helpful for when we graduated from undergraduate school and look for jobs in the real world.

Blog Post 4

When we received this project I was nervous about what to do. I didn’t know who to interview, and I was also scared that whomever I decided to pick to interview wouldn’t want to do it and then I would have to go and find someone else, but I was extremely fortunate to have gotten the chance to interview Dr. Thomas. The interview was a fantastic experience that ended up being a breeze. It was easy for us to talk because we sat in her home and we had already known each other because I had played college sports with her two daughters. Everything just flowed and felt almost like a normal casual conversation.

Dr. Thomas was a great person to interview. She has so much personality and is one of kindest people I have ever met. The way she spoke with such passion and joy about her job bought a smile to my face. I could ask her one question and she would go on and on, and I just sat there in amazement at all of the stories she was telling me. I had no idea that being a Vet was as difficult a job as it is. I loved her stories about being in vet school and all of the interesting exotic animals she got to take care of and learn from.

I realized during our interview that listening plays a larger part in being a Vet than I thought. It didn’t really click with me until she talked about her patients cannot physically communicate with her so she has to really rely on listening to the pet’s owners to fully understand what is going on. I was also surprised to find out that therapeutic listening played such a large role in her job as well. It had never occurred to me that comforting pet owners is part of the job of being a vet. I also learned that geography can create barriers to listening when she spoke about how people with different accents and make it hard to understand and become fully aware of what is wrong with the animal.

While I may never become a vet myself, my interview with Dr. Thomas so me there is so much more to being a Vet than just taking care of sick animals. You really have to be a good listener and be an understanding person because you are working with patients who have others advocating for them

Blog Post 4

When I first learned about the True Stories project, I was apprehensive because I thought that it may be difficult to find someone who was willing to take time out of their busy schedule to be interviewed by a college student. This worry proved to be somewhat true when the first person that I was supposed to interview suddenly stopped responding to my emails. At first, I was very upset about this because I was looking forward to interviewing someone in my future career field. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I was able to connect with Anne Marie Varga, who has inspired my interest in the public relations field. Anne Marie’s experiences as the Communications Manager at the Orange County Government, as well as her experiences prior to obtaining this position, provided me with a unique perspective on the crucial role that public relations professionals play in our society. After speaking with her, I gained a new interest and appreciation for the careful thought and critical listening that is involved in public relations.

My interview with Ann Marie also demonstrated the applicability of the concepts that we have been learning in class to the professional world. First, Ann Marie spoke frequently on the importance of critical listening in her profession. The first thought that I had when she brought up this topic was the SIER model. In crisis communication, she must focus on the content and context of the message, interpret the meaning behind the message, critically assess the meaning of the message, and finally respond to the message in a way that adds value to the situation. Hearing her speak about process behind formulating responses to crises demonstrated how the different concepts that we have learned in class can truly be applied to many real-world situations. The fact that I was able to make these connections was a huge success for me because I believe that my knowledge of listening concepts will allow me to thrive in the professional setting.

As a whole, the interview with Ann Marie was quite successful. However, we did come across some barriers to listening throughout the experience. First, I realized how important the environment is for effective listening. Our interview took place in KeKe’s Breakfast Café, so the interruption of the waitress, the loud conversations of other customers, and the abundance of background noise were quite distracting in the moment. Another barrier to listening was the fact that I had come straight from swimming practice to the interview, so I was fatigued and not in the best state of mind to concentrate. In other words, sometimes I was focused more on my own feelings than the conversation, which was a significant barrier to my effective listening. Nonetheless, despite these barriers, the interview as a whole was a fulfilling and successful experience because I was able to build a connection between what I’ve learned in the classroom and how it applies to the professional realm.