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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

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Jim McMurtry

Jim McMurtry and his family have owned Smokey Denmark Sausages since 1972. In that time, Mr. McMurtry has expanded his factory, updated production methods, and brought his daughter and son-in-law into the business. Though a lot has changed at Smokey Denmark since its beginning, Mr. McMurtry, a genial, proud, and funny Texan who manages to juggle a second job as a lawyer along with his Smokey Denmark duties, has remained a constant presence in the factory in East Austin. Here, workers, many of whom are long-time employees, create sixteen different kinds of sausage, as well as brisket, chopped barbecue, and spare ribs. Smokey Denmark supplies many barbecue restaurants with sausage, and Mr. McMurtry says that his relationships with these restaurant customers have become treasured family connections.

Date of interview:
2007-03-26 00:00

Rebecca Onion and Lisa Powell

Lisa Powell

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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.


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