The History Department is pleased to announce that Dr. Gwynn Thayer, Associate Head and Chief Curator of NC State’s Special Collections Research Center and Faculty Affiliate in the History Department, will teach HI 533: Theory and Practice of Oral History in Spring 2023.
Dr. Thayer first studied oral history while earning her Ph.D. in public history at Middle Tennessee State University; at that time, she also worked full-time as an archivist at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, Tennessee. While a graduate student in public history, in addition to oral history coursework, she enrolled in oral history workshops with leading experts Dr. Linda Shopes and Dr. Stephen Sloan. Her first oral history project was with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, where she helped to integrate artifacts and metadata description with (previously recorded) oral histories for the Holocaust Commission’s Living On oral history project.
Later, she conducted oral histories for her research and dissertation work on the history of greyhound racing in support of her 2013 book Going to the Dogs: Greyhound Racing, Animal Activism, and American Popular Culture, which won the 2014 North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) award for best monograph. She interviewed numerous greyhound leaders and subsequently donated some of the oral history interviews to various repositories: the Keith Dillon oral history to the Kansas Historical Society (2009), and the Jim Frey oral history to the Baylor University Libraries (2011). Other interviews were used for dissertation/book purposes and were integral to the research process.
While serving as curator at the Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries, she has conducted a number of oral histories with scholars and other NC State luminaries, including Chuck Flink, William Flournoy, Phil Freelon, and most recently, Nora Lynn Finch. She also helps to manage the Computer Simulation Oral History Archives, which is a part of Special Collections.
Currently she is developing a Spring 2023 graduate public history course at NC State that will allow students to integrate curation with oral histories in support of Special Collections growth. She will use her perspective as both a curator and scholar to explore ways to use oral histories to build collections and supplement primary source research. Areas of personal research interest include animal protection, architecture and design, and sports history.