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Food History at the Rubenstein Library

Food, Photography, and Film

The Archive of Documentary Arts has a wide range of works that relate to agricultural history. The collection is particularly rich with sources that touch upon agricultural economy, farm labor, and labor activism.

In the Fields

Image is part of the Tobacco Series in the Chris Johnson Farmworker Photographs, 1990s.

Documentary Projects on Food Outside of the Rubenstein Library

These links will lead you to oral history and other documentary arts projects that touch upon American food cultures.

  • The Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) is an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. The SFA is known for its expansive collection of oral histories, documentaries, and other forms of documentary-based scholarship that catalog the rich traditions and changing foodways of the American South. Listed below are a few of the SFA's project that touch upon the history of Food in North Carolina.
    • The SFA Carrboro Farmers’ Market Oral History Project (accessible through a number of social media platforms including Flickr and YouTube) consist of 20 oral histories and photographs documenting farmers, customers, and longtime supporters of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market located just a few blocks from UNC Chapel Hill’s bustling campus. This project explores a network of food spaces that have contributed to the formation and sustainability of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market: the market itself, the farms, the restaurants, and the neighboring university.
    • Cook School, a Greenhouse Film, features students in Nancy Gould’s food service course, one of the more popular classes in the North Carolina State Prison system. Offered by Piedmont Community College, this 5-month course provides inmates with practical cooking skills. This film documents students' attempt to prepare a fine dining experience for 60 guests.
    • North Carolina BBQ Oral History Project documents the rich and tangy history of North Carolina's regional BBQ culture. Featuring 17 BBQ establishments like Mitchell’s Ribs, Bar-B-Q & Chicken in Wilson, NC and Bunn's Barbecue in Windsor, NC, this project provides one of the most in-depth studies of BBQ in the state.
  • Foodways Texas, similar to the Southern Foodways Alliance, strives to preserve the culinary cultures of the American South, specifically those in Texas. The organization has conducted oral histories and made films that feature Texas' diverse foodways. Oral history projects are oriented around themes of Barbecue, Craft Brewery, and the Iconic Restaurant.

Carrboro Farmers' Market, NC

Part of the Southern Foodways Alliance's Carrboro Farmers' Market Oral History Project.