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Partnership with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

Project Leader: Dr. Courtney Rivard (DLC Lab Director)

Project Team: Alexandra Odom (DLC Lab, Department of History), Rolando Rodriguez (UNC Libraries), Dr. Carly Schnitzler (Johns Hopkins University), Katherine Stein (DLC Lab, Department of English), Dr. Kathryn Wall (Marian Creek Jackson Center)

In partnership with The Marian Cheek Jackson Center, a hub of creative action dedicated to preserving the history of Black neighborhoods in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, this collaborative Wikipedia project strives to make local Black history more accessible to a wider audience. Through this collaboration, the project aims to raise the Jackson Center’s digital footprint and make these important histories more available by leveraging the affordances of Wikipedia, which often occurs as a top result in search engines. 

In Spring of 2023, the team partnered with Dr. Courtney Rivard’s ENGL114 course, “The Rhetorics of Data,” to develop a digital public humanities project in collaboration with the Jackson Center that explored the relationship between knowledge production, power, and data. Building from the stories and histories from the Jackson Center’s oral history archive,  From the Rock Wall, Rivard’s class created 6 Wikipedia pages for the Jackson Center with the help of the DLC Lab project team: Hollywood Theater, Hargraves Community Center, Hackney School, Pottersfield, St. Paul AME, and Watts Restaurant.  

Recently, the project team was accepted into the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS) to further develop this project; their participation in the Institute will lead to an open-access publication on using Wikipedia to promote community organizations and teach students digital literacy skills



Forever Chemicals in North Carolina: A Story Archive

Project Leaders: Dr. Courtney Rivard (DLC lab) and Dr. Jordynn Jack (HHIVE lab)

The DLC and HHIVE DLC labs at UNC Chapel Hill have begun a new collaboration to capture oral histories of North Carolinians affected by PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS are a class of chemicals found in a variety of products, such as non-stick cookware, food containers, and firefighting foam. North Carolina’s industrial and military endeavors have led to high levels of PFAS in our water systems, particularly in the Cape Fear watershed, which extends into 26 counties in North Carolina including Chatham County, a neighboring county of UNC. High levels of PFAS within the human body are now being linked to negative health outcomes, including cancer and fertility issues (Centers for Diease Control; Steenland and Winquist; Fenton et al.).

The goal of our project is to conduct oral history interviews with people living in those communities and get their perspectives on the effect PFAS has had on their health and the health of their neighbors. During these oral history interviews, we’ll ask our interviewees questions about their life histories and the role PFAS has played in their lives. We want to publish the interviews on a public-facing website that will reflect the experiences of North Carolinians with PFAS and give us more insight into our state’s water quality.