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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hall honored with Mary Turner Lane Award

j_hall_450Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, the Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History and founding director of Carolina’s Southern Oral History Program, has won the 2013 Mary Turner Lane Award.

Established in 1986, the award recognizes people who make outstanding contributions to the lives of women students, faculty, staff and administrators at Carolina. It is named after the late Mary Turner Lane, founding director of the Curriculum in Women’s Studies and the first recipient of the award.

The University’s Association for Women Faculty and Professionals presented the award May 2 at the group’s annual meeting and spring luncheon at the Carolina Inn.

During 40 years on the Carolina faculty, Hall has advocated for women in every aspect of her career: her research and professional leadership, her award-winning teaching, her mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students, and her service to her profession and to the University.

“By her scholarship, Hall changed the very concept of history, developing the methodology and best practices of a new kind of history that incorporates the experiences of women and workers and minorities into understanding the past,” the award citation said.

In 1973, fresh out of graduate school at Columbia University, Hall came to Carolina as the first director of the Southern Oral History Program, a position she held until 2011. At the time, oral history was a relatively new field. Four decades years later, oral history is well established as a research method, and the distinguished Southern Oral History Program, now part of the Center for the Study of the American South, has become an institution of national influence.

The program works to preserve the voices of the southern past. Its collection of more than 5,000 interviews with people from all walks of life – from mill workers to civil rights leaders to prominent political figures – is available through Carolina’s Southern Historical Collection online.

The ripple effects of Hall’s influence and her insights into women’s contributions to human history have been recognized nationally. A former president of the Organization of American Historians, she received the National Humanities Medal presented by President Bill Clinton in 1999, and in 2011 was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

But it isn’t the accolades that give Hall the most pride; it’s the students who have conducted the many interviews that helped create the program and have gone on to do great things. An award-winning teacher, she has garnered accolades from generations of students.

One described her as “imparting the sheer delight that she feels doing history, conveying a sense of urgency about the lessons of the past, demonstrating meticulous research methods and shaping students’ arguments with the most subtle of suggestions.”

Former students also praise her as a mentor. One said, “She lets her students grow up, transitioning her relationship with them as they move through the profession and their lives.”

Hall’s students become part of an ongoing community. Her email messages often have as their subject line “More Ripple Effects,” as she passes along news of the accomplishments of women in the “Jacquelyn Hall network of support.”

The countless ripples that stem from what people have described as Hall’s visionary, caring, loyal and quiet leadership no doubt will continue to reach women in years to come.