Appointment: Curator of the Southern Historical Collection

November 11, 2021
Chaitra Powell

Chaitra Powell is curator of the Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library, University Libraries, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, effective November 1, 2021.

The University Libraries is pleased to announce the appointment of Chaitra Powell as curator of the Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library, effective November 1.

In this role, Chaitra will oversee operations of the Southern Historical Collection, providing vision and leadership to secure its continued preeminence as the leading repository of unique materials reflecting the histories and cultures of the American South.

She will engage with University Libraries colleagues, UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and students, donors and vendors, and with trends and directions in Southern studies to ensure the development, management, and ongoing relevance of the SHC‘s holdings and programs to their teaching, learning, and research.

In accord with “The University Libraries’ Role in Reckoning with Systemic Racism and Oppression,” Chaitra will work on initiatives to interrogate and repair the legacy systems that perpetuate oppressive structures and to create new systems that advance racial and social equity and justice.

She will work closely with the African American collections and outreach archivist to define a strategic pathway forward in community-driven archives. She will cultivate and steward relationships with collection donors, with an emphasis on creating a more inclusive historical record and connecting with communities underrepresented in the collections.

Through exhibitions, public programs, and other outreach methods, Chaitra will ensure the visibility of the SHC’s resources and programs on campus and in larger scholarly networks. She will also actively pursue grant, private, and other funding opportunities and oversee grant-funded projects.

Founded in 1930, the Southern Historical Collection, with nearly 5,000 manuscript collections, is one of the five collections that make up the special collections at Wilson Library. The SHC collaborates with the four other collections: the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection, the Southern Folklife Collection, and University Archives and Records Management Services.

The five special collections work closely with the University Libraries Repository Services department, which includes the digital production center. Thanks to mass digitization workflows there, more than two million pages of SHC content are currently available online.

Prior to this appointment, Chaitra was the African American collections and outreach archivist at the University Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Chaitra holds a B.A. in sociology and a M.A. in library science, both from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Reach Chaitra at

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