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The William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection spans the years 1933 through 1988, with most of the materials dated between 1972 and 1978. The collection consists mainly of oral history interview tapes and transcripts, but also includes interview notes and research files related to Chafe's book Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom.

The William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection spans the years 1933 through 1988, with most of the materials dated between 1972 and 1978. The collection consists mainly of oral history interview tapes and transcripts, but also includes interview notes and research files related to Chafe's book Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom.

The interview tapes and transcripts (1972-1978, undated), which comprise the bulk of the collection, include interviews with government officials, participants in the North Carolina civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and opponents of the movement, including members of the Ku Klux Klan. The few research files in the collection include statistical data related to Greensboro elections (1930s-1950s), notes from the Joan Bluethenthal papers and a report by the North Carolina State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights on civil disturbances at Dudley High School and North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1969.

The Audiotapes Series consists of two identical sets (one for preservation, one for use by researchers) of twenty-eight tapes containing oral history interviews. The Printed Material Series includes transcripts and/or notes on 67 oral history interviews, and three research files related to the civil rights movement and local politics in Greensboro.

Beyond the direct oral history materials, there is also a Writings and Research Series. It includes research notes for several chapters of Chafe's book in addition to newspaper clippings addressing topics such as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and the return of black veterans from the Vietnam War; an assortment of documents regarding the Black Panther Party collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigations' Counter Intelligence Program, and a number of publications produced by other authors. While the materials predominately relate to Greensboro, this series also includes information on civil rights activity in Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Research Triangle at large. The Photographs Series includes fourteen undated photographs.

William H. Chafe's book, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom, chronicles the continuing conflict over desegregation in Greensboro in the 1950s and 1960s. Chafe explores the "progressive mystique" that defined the terms of culturally-sanctioned behavior, looking at how civility served to preserve the South's racial order. Within this context, he discusses the city's reaction to the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the Greensboro sit-in movement begun by four college students at North Carolina A&T College in 1960, and the emergence of the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s.