The Student Health Coalition Archive Project describes a collaboration between underserved communities and college students in the 1960s through the 1980s.  The goal of the collaboration: improve access to health care, by means of community organizing, primarily in the rural South.
The archive represents an innovative community-driven approach to preserving history, weaving together individual stories and memories that in the aggregate build a narrative about the work, the era, community organizing, and health care delivery. Documents, photos, and recorded interviews are housed at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the Eskind Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University. This website serves as a portal to the Archive, and an invitation to participate.

Project Themes

Project Timeline

The origin and development of the Student Health Coalition, the evolution of various special SHC projects in distinct areas of Appalachia, and the establishment of several affiliate organizations all came about from a series of key events. We’ve created timelines to visually represent each of these chronological narratives. Visit the About page to scroll through and learn more.

Recently Added Stories

Community-driven parallels between organizing then and archiving now

Gillian McCuistion, a technician with the archive project, draws on parallels between SHC community organizing of the 1960s and 70s and the community-driven nature of their partnership with the Southern Historical Collection today. Follow this link for access to the… Continued

On assembling the record of organizing efforts that grew out of SHC work

John Davis reflects on the Coalition’s work planting community activist seeds and frames the archive project as an opportunity to assemble the record of organizing efforts that grew out of them. Follow this link for access to the full-length panel… Continued

Jack Beckford on the Student Health Coalition Legacy Fund

Jack Beckford offers insight into the role the Student Health Coalition Legacy Fund has played in uncovering and supporting ongoing work on issues in Appalachia related to the SHC’s activism in the 1960s and 70s. He lists Appalshop, the Highlander… Continued

Preservation and access of community legacies

Margaret Ecker describes a “fringe benefit” of the archive project as it pertains to the collective memory restoration of community stories, such as those belonging to Howard and Fay Elliot of St. Charles, Va., J.W. and Kate Bradley, Maureen O’Connell,… Continued

The role of themes and tendrils in packaging the Coalition narrative

John Davis reflects on the process of being involved in the archive project, noting the joy of collectively rediscovering the Coalition narrative and the challenge of packaging it according to over-arching themes and other common threads. Biff Hollingsworth adds that,… Continued

Process vs product in community-driven archives

Biff Hollingsworth, Collecting and Public Programming Archivist with the Southern Historical Collection, elaborates on early institutional reluctance to undertake such a non-traditional and labor-intensive archive project. He emphasizes their myriad of considerations, all of which ultimately positioned this partnership as… Continued

Early reluctance to participate in the archive project

John Davis reflects on early hesitations and reluctance among some Coalitioners to participate in the archive project. Follow this link for access to the full-length panel discussion with the Websters. Recorded December 2022. Continued

The first phone call: Biff Hollingsworth connects with Margaret Ecker

Biff Hollingsworth, Collecting and Public Programming Archivist with the Southern Historical Collection, delineates more of the timeline at the start of UNC’s partnership with the Student Health Coalition. Margaret Ecker recounts their first phone call in early 2013, a conversation… Continued

Map of the Student Health Coalition Health Fairs