SFA Oral History: Goodbyes and New Opportunities

Sara Wood began working with the SFA as a freelance oral historian in 2012. At that point, she was studying for her MFA at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She began work for us interviewing women oyster shuckers in Virginia. After she graduated, we lured Sara to Oxford. In 2014, she joined the SFA full time as our oral historian, the second person to hold that position in the history of the organization.

Sara Wood, center, with the women of Bertha’s

Over the last three years, Sara has interviewed cattlewomen in Georgia, Lumbee Indians in North Carolina, slugburger cooks in the Tennessee Valley, and, as pictured here, Lowcountry soul food cooks in Charleston. Sara has secured grants to drive SFA work, including a recent NEH preservation grant. Teaching oral history workshops for SFA, and participating in academic conferences, she has emerged as a leader in the field. Sara has also proved a model colleague, an inspiring humanities researcher and teacher.

You saw where this was headed, right?

Late this week, Sara Wood will move north to take a job as program manager of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina. SFA applauds our UNC colleagues for their astute decision to hire Sara, even as we lament her departure.

Now it’s time to hire our next SFA oral historian. The qualified candidate will direct multi-year documentary projects, manage the work of freelance oral historians, collect oral histories from narrators across the region, lead SFA workshops, and help lead the national conversation about foodways-grounded oral history work.