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WNC History Café: Digitizing WNC’s African-American History (online)

May 24, 2021 @ 10:30 am - 11:45 am

In the Spring of 2021, teams of students in Dr. Ellen Holmes Pearson’s UNC Asheville “Out of the Archives: Adventures in Digital History” class worked together to create digital history projects that made slices of Western North Carolina history available online. This semester, the students’ research focused on topics that help to make primary sources about Western North Carolina’s African-American history more accessible to the public and to offer more complete stories about the area’s African Americans communities. At this History Cafe, students will present on the following topics:

1. The life and impact of Lucy Saunders Herring, a black educator who worked as a teacher, readings specialist, and educational and community leader in Asheville from 1916-1968. Herring’s first teaching job was at the Lower Swannanoa Colored School.
2. The history of the Phyllis Wheatley branch of the YWCA, which was opened in 1921 and moved to the 185 South French Broad location, the current home of the YWCA of Asheville, in the 1960s.
3. The Asheville Housing Authority’s Montford Project files, related to the acquisition of property and the displacement of individuals in the Hill-Cherry Street neighborhood of Montford during Urban Renewal.

Attendees will receive a zoom link to the talk.




About the Presenter: Dr. Pearson is Professor and Interim Chair of History at UNC Asheville. She is also a scholar/teacher of the Digital Liberal Arts and a Faculty Fellow on the UNC System’s Digital Learning Initiative. She was co-Principal Investigator on “Digital Liberal Arts at a Distance,” a Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) initiative supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation. Recent publications on the digital humanities include “Neither Here nor There: Testing the Boundaries of Place and Pedagogy,” in Roads Taken: The Professorial Life, Scholarship in Place, and the Public Good (Truman State University Press, 2014), and several essays and articles on the digital liberal arts and distance learning. Her current digital project, “The 828 Digital Archives for Historical Equity,” will craft and widely disseminate an inclusive digital history of Asheville, North Carolina and its environs’ diverse heritage.


May 24, 2021
10:30 am - 11:45 am


Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center