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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Pie in Arkansas


Kim & Vivian Barnhill

Ms. Lena's Pie Shop

In the southern Arkansas town of DeValls Bluff, Vivian Barnhill and her daughter Kim Barnhill carry on the legacy of Ms. Lena, Vivian’s mother and Kim’s grandmother. In 1994, Ms. Lena went into business at the age of seventy-five, serving fried pies from a kitchen adjacent to her house.

Vivian and Ms. Lena enjoyed a tight mother-daughter bond that is reflected in Vivian and Kim’s relationship. When Kim joined the business, Vivian assumed it would take her six months to learn how to mix and roll out the tricky, moisture-sensitive pie dough. After years of watching her mother and grandmother, Kim succeeded on her first effort.

When Ms. Lena passed away in 2005, she asked her daughter to carry on the family business. Kim joined her mother, becoming the third generation of pie makers in the family. Today, Vivian and Kim continue Ms. Lena’s legacy every weekend, serving over thirty flavors of fried and whole pies to customers from all corners of the world.

Date of interview:

Sherri Sheu

Sherri Sheu

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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