Oral History Collections and Individual Interviews

Individual Interviews


Anita White – Interview with Anita White disucssing her family and the Shiloh Community in Asheville.



Community Arts 310 (A310)

Eight oral histories collected in 2007 and 2008 by UNC Asheville students as part of the Arts 310 class. In 2007, the interviews were with people involved in the government and development of Asheville. The 2008 interviews were with participants working with the Peace Garden at Vance Elementary School in Asheville.

Asheville Living Treasures (ALT)

Oral histories collected by Asheville Living Treasures, an all volunteer organization dedicated to honoring elders in the Asheville and Buncombe County area who have shape the community and helped make it a better place to live.

The Karen Vaneman Oral History Collection of Asheville Urban Renewal (AUR)

Collected by social activist Karen Vaneman, these focus on African-Americans living in Asheville during the time of the Asheville Urban Renewal project,  The histories include personal details about the interviewee, and information about the impact of urban renewal on them and the area where they lived. Some describe streets and individuals in detail, whilst others are more general.

Centre for Diversity Education – With All Deliberate Speed (CDE)

Contains records of interviews conducted, in 2005, by the Center for Diversity Education about the desegregation in the Asheville area. The interviews formed the basis of, With All Deliberate Speed: Desegregation in Buncombe County, a fourteen panel exhibit highlighting the accomplishments of ASCORE (Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality) who worked to integrate schools and businesses in Western North Carolina.

Greek & Russian Orthodox Oral History Collection (GRO)

This collection comprises interviews with members of the Greek and Russian Orthodox congregations in western North Carolina. The interviewees describe their personal histories and how their church has influenced them. The interviews were collected in the spring of 2008, as part of an exhibit, showcasing Asheville’s Greek and Russian Orthodox communities, that UNC Asheville history students helped to organize.

Jewish Life in Western North Carolina Collections

Asheville and Western North Carolina has a strong and thriving Jewish heritage. Through extensive efforts by three organizations, The Center for Diversity Education, History @ Hand, and the Center for Jewish Studies at UNCA, not to mention the steadfast contributions of local residents, Special Collections now contains a rich body of material which incorporates Jewish heritage into the larger schema  of Western North Carolina history.

  • Jewish Heritage in Western North Carolina (JHWNC)  A collection of oral histories describing the Jewish heritage of the southern United States, particularly western North Carolina and Asheville.
  • Jewish Businesses in Western North Carolina (JBWNC) A collection of oral histories describing Jewish owned businesses, primarily retail stores, that were in Asheville, with an emphasis on those operating between approximately 1920 and 1970. The histories were mostly recorded by Sharon Fahrer and Jan Schochet for their book The Family Store, and include interviews with various Jewish business owners, former business owners, and their families.
  • Choosing to Remember: From the Shoah to the Mountains (SHOAH) Contains summaries and/or transcripts of twenty-five interviews with people who escaped the persecution of Jews in Europe before and during World War II, and who eventually relocated to Western North Carolina. Only a small number of audio recordings of the interviews are included.
  • Recordings for The Man Who Lived on Main St. (MAIN) A collection of interviews compiled by Jan Schochet and Sharon Fahrer for their book The Man Who Lived on Main Street, a history of Sol Schulman’s store in Sylva.

LGBTQIA+ Archive Oral Histories

A collaborative project between Asheville Pride and Amanda Wray, English Professor at UNC Asheville, these oral histories document the LGBTQIA+ community in Asheville and Western North Carolina.

The Dan Pierce NASCAR Collection

Dan Pierce, History Professor at UNC Asheville, interviewed NASCAR personalities as part of the research for his 2010 bookReal NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Bill Bill France. Dr. Pierce conducted oral histories with J. B. Day, Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Gordon Pirkle, and H. A. Wheeler between 1998 and 2005.

Ramsey Library Special Collections Oral Histories (RLSC)

A collection of oral histories generally gathered by the staff of, or those affiliated with, Ramsey Library Special Collections, There is a general focus on Asheville and its history, but specific topics include, medicine, politics, arts and crafts, local businesses, and urban development.

The Sandy Mush Chronicles (SMC)

Contains twelve interviews conducted in 1998 with residents of the Sandy Mush community, located north west of Asheville, NC. The interviewees had lived in Sandy Mush for many generations, and the topics covered include family history, changes in the demographics and economy of the area, the role of the church, agriculture, and a 1980s proposal to locate a repository for nuclear waste in the area.

South Asheville Colored Cemetery (1840-1943) (SACC)

Interviews with African American residents of Asheville, NC with knowledge of persons buried in the South Asheville Colored Cemetery. The interviews cover names of people buried in the cemetery, the history of the cemetery, and burial customs.

Southern Highlands Research Center Oral History Collection (SHRC)

Contains oral histories collected in and around Asheville and Western North Carolina during the fifteen years from 1977 to 1992, primarily by Dr. Louis D. Silveri and Dr. Bruce Greenawalt. Dr. Silveri collected over 180 hours of audio from architects, doctors, farmers, manufacturers, administrators, business owners, educators, and pivotal personalities. Dr. Greenawalt, former UNCA History Department Chair and the first Director of the Southern Highlands Research Center, talked with business leaders and tradesmen who documented the growth and changes in the Asheville area. The audio recordings for some recordings are missing, but transcripts of these interviews are available. Some interviews include additional materials such as newspaper clippings and photographs.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville (UUCA)

Interviews collected between 1993 and 2001 with people having a connection with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville. The level of information varies greatly between interviews, but all focus on the interviewee’s relationship with the church and its people. Some interviews include additional information about the interviewee and, occasionally, about the city of Asheville.

University of North Carolina Asheville Retirees Oral History Collection (UNCAR)

This collection comprises interviews with former staff, faculty, and trustee of UNC Asheville, and its predecessor, Asheville-Biltmore College. The interviews were recorded in 2009 – 2011, and most were conducted by former chancellor Samuel Schuman.

Voices of Asheville Project (VOA)

Comprising almost 180 histories collected between 1989 and 1997, the Voices of Asheville Project was created by oral historian Dorothy Joynes to “show the tapestry of the city [of Asheville] over the last hundred years”. The collection is particularly rich in stories about life in Asheville during the Depression, but histories also cover both World Wars, the racial divide and integration, the exodus of downtown stores, and the redevelopment of Asheville. Most interviews also include additional materials such as photographs of the interviewee and places referred to in the interview, programs and pamphlets for relevant organizations and/or events, and newspaper clippings related to the interview.

 World War II: Mountain Memories (WWII)

Contains records of almost 100 interviews with people who lived through World War II. The majority of the interviewees served with the armed forces, but others were civilians.The interviews were conducted in 2003, and the subjects were at that time living in the Asheville area, but many interviewees moved to WNC after WWII, and were often originally from other parts of the US or, sometimes, from other countries. Although audio of interviews is generally available, some interviews only contain transcripts, or summaries by the interviewer.

YWCA of Asheville 100 Years Oral History Project (YWCA)

Interviews with four women who were longstanding members of the YWCA community, and undertaken in 2007 in preparation for the YWCA of Asheville’s 100 year celebration. The topics covered include camps in the 1930’s, integration of the Asheville YWCA, and the YWCA buildings. The interviews also include personal details about the interviewees, and their experience of living in Asheville.