Doing Our Bit: UNC and the Great War

This exhibition about Carolina's involvement in World War I will be on view in Wilson Library through June 11, 2017. Continue reading
Posted in Collections and Resources, Exhibits, Homepage Exhibits, Homepage Special Collections, North Carolina Collection, North Carolina History, UNC History | Comments Off on Doing Our Bit: UNC and the Great War

The Razorbacks are back

UNC head basketball coach Dean Smith on sidelines during national semifinal match-up against Arkansas in the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington on April 1, 1995. (Hugh Morton photograph cropped by the author.)

UNC head basketball coach Dean Smith on sidelines during national semifinal match-up against Arkansas in the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington on April 1, 1995. (Hugh Morton photograph cropped by the author.)

On March 18th, 2012 Bill Richards, a colleague who worked in the library’s Digital Production Center, passed away unexpectedly while watching the Tar Heel’s basketball team defeat Creighton University in the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper.  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information.  In 1998 he started working in Library Photographic Services, but continued shooting for Sports Information into the 2000s.  I am dedicating this blog post, as I have each year since his departure, to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan.

Here we are again . . . it’s March Madness time and UNC is in the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament for the forty-seventh time.  Yesterday’s 103 to 64 first-round win against Texas Southern, coupled with Arkansas’ 77-to-71 defeat of Seton Hall, set up the sixth tournament meeting between the Tar Heels and Razorbacks.  Hugh Morton photographed three of those contests in 1990, 1993, and 1995. In the latter two face-offs, the victors continued on to win the national championship.

North Carolina's Donald Williams (#21) and Arkansas' Corliss Williamson (#34) battle under the basket during the East Regional Semifinal at 1993 NCAA tournament in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

North Carolina’s Donald Williams (#21) and Arkansas’ Corliss Williamson (#34) battle under the basket during the East Regional Semifinal at 1993 NCAA tournament in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The first of these two encounters was the 1993 tournament’s East Regional Semifinals played at East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Arkansas was fueled by eleven three-pointers, but but UNC’s sophomore guard Donald Williams scored the last nine Tar Heel points—including three foul shots at the end—to clinch the game 80 to 74.  At one point in first half Arkansas led by eleven, but the game was often close.  The score at halftime was 45 to 45, and with 6:30 left to play it was 69 to 69.  It was then that North Carolina’s Brian Reese bucket gave the Tar Heels a  lead that would not give back.

A monstrous dunk by 245-pound Razorback freshman Corliss Williamson bought  Arkansas to within two points, 73 to 71, and their fans leapt to their feet.  With just over a minute to play in the game, Carolina held onto a 75-to-74 lead.  UNC’s legendary coach Dean Smith called a time out at the 0:51.7 mark and drew up play.  Rather than stall in a patented four-corners set, he designed a quick-scoring backdoor pass from George Lynch to Williams for a lay-up that extended the score to 77 to 74 with 0:42 seconds left.  An Arkansas turnover forced the Razorbacks to foul Williams.  He iced the free throws and capped the Tar Heel victory.  George Lynch led UNC in scoring with twenty-three points and ten rebounds.  Eric Montrose added fifteen points.  The win sent the Tar Heels to the East Regional Finals against Cincinnati.

UNC's Jerry Stackhouse guarded by Arkansas' Scotty Thurman during their 1995 national semifinal game played on April 1, 1995 in Seattle's Kingdome. (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.)

UNC’s Jerry Stackhouse guarded by Arkansas’ Scotty Thurman during their 1995 national semifinal game played on April 1, 1995 in Seattle’s Kingdome. (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.)

April Fools Day was no laughing matter for UNC in the 1995 NCAA tournament when the Hogs beat the Heels 75 to 68 in the tournament semifinal played at the Seattle Kingdome.  UNC had returned to the Final Four after exiting early in 1994, and Arkansas was the returning national champion.  UNC led at the half 38 to 34.  The score would normally have been 38 to 31, but Arkansas’ Dwight Stewart heaved a 55-foot shot at the buzzer that found nothing but net to end the first half.  The bomb enlivened the lackluster Razorbacks and left the Heels stunned.

The energy boost carried Arkansas well into the second half, reeling off an early 17-to-5 run.  UNC suffered twelve-and-a-half minutes without a score until a three-pointer by Stackhouse with 15:14 left to play.  Carolina closed the deficit to one, 69 to 68, with 47.7 seconds left, but the Tar Heels scoring ended there.  They made only seven shots in the closing half after hitting fifteen in the opener, including seven threes.  Equally domineering, Arkansas made ten shots from close-range inside the paint in the second half, compared to Carolina’s two.  Donald Williams, now a senior, finished with nineteen points, but Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson scored the same amount in just the second half, finishing with twenty-one. UNC’s Jerry Stackhouse scored eighteen.

Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said afterward, “We’re called the ‘Cardiac Kids’ and we tried to do it again.” With their victory Arkansas earned the right to defend their title against UCLA, which defeated Oklahoma State 74 to 61. UCLA, however, denied the Razorback repeat by scoring an eleven-point win, 89 to 78.  After the season, as a junior, Williamson declared for the 1995 NBA draft and was the thirteenth pick overall by the Sacramento Kings.  From UNC, Jerry Stackhouse was the third overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Washington Bullets selected Rasheed Wallace next as the fourth selection.  Both Stackhouse and Wallace left UNC as sophomores.

Post Script

Morton also photographed the North Carolina versus Arkansas regional semifinal in March 1990 won by Arkansas 96 to 73, but there are no images of that game in the online collection of images.

Posted in Basketball, Sports, UNC | Comments Off on The Razorbacks are back

If it’s March, there must be madness

Jeff Lebo cutting down net after UNC win over Duke at 1989 ACC tournament, Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia.

Jeff Lebo cutting down net after UNC win over Duke at 1989 ACC tournament, Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia.

“March Madness” is only a week away when the 64th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament takes place starting today, March 7, through March 11, 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  Officially, it’s the “New York Life ACC Tournament,” but a title sponsor has not always been attached.  That addition is just one of the many changing facets of this classic sporting event that have taken place over the years— and photographer Hugh Morton was there for twenty-one (at least) of them between 1954 and 2005.  On day one of the ACC Tournament, Morton collection volunteer and A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard takes a brief look at the record book.  Within the story, you may follow the links to see Morton’s photographs for the years available in online collection. (Not all the years photographed by Morton are available in the online collection.  See Series 6.1 in the collection finding aid for a full listing.)

In early March, 1997, the ACC Tournament was staged in Greensboro for the 17th time, but the front page basketball story in the March 9th edition of the “News & Record” was titled “Shooting with the Best of Them: At 76, Hugh Morton still keeps life in focus.”  The article told the Hugh Morton story and how he had covered the ACC tournament starting back in 1954. In fact, feature writer Jim Schlosser’s article said:  “He’s been shooting Carolina wins, and the occasional loss, in every ACC tournament, save one, since the first in 1954 in Raleigh.”

The fifteen-team league competing for the 2017 ACC Tournament Championship is a far cry from the league that Morton first photographed in 1954 when only 8 teams made up the conference. That ’54 tournament was played in Raleigh’s William Neal Reynolds Coliseum and was won by Coach Everett Case’s NC State Wolfpack…an 82 to 80 overtime thriller against Coach Murray Greason’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  State went on to win the event in ‘55 and ’56 before North Carolina won its first tournament in 1957. And Carolina continued its winning ways as the NCAA Champion that year…the first North Carolina based team to do that since the official formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference in May of 1953.

The University of Maryland won the 1958 tournament, defeating the defending champion Tar Heels as the Terps became the first out-of-North Carolina tournament champion.  In ’59, NC State came back as a winner for the 4th time with a win over UNC.

Duke beat Wake Forest for its first ACC Tournament in 1960, while Wake beat Duke in ’61 for its first tournament win. Wake won again in ’62.  During the next four years, Duke won three more times and State won in ’65. Hugh Morton photographs can be seen in the online collection for the UNC vs USC semifinal game in 1963 and the Duke vs NC State first-round game in 1964.

In 1967, the tournament moved from Reynolds Coliseum to the Greensboro Coliseum where Carolina beat Duke for the title. Carolina continued its winning ways with two wins over State and Duke as the tournament moved to Charlotte in 1968 and 1969.

Following NC State’s 1970 win in Charlotte over South Carolina, it was back to Greensboro for the next five years.  South Carolina won its only ACC Tournament in 1971 and Carolina and State split the next four years: Carolina winning in 1972 and 1975, and State winning in 1973 and 1974—and of course State won the National Championship in 1974, the only time the “Final Four” championship round has been played in Greensboro.

In 1976, the tournament moved to the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland where Virginia won its first ACC Tournament, beating North Carolina 67 to 62.  It was back to the Greensboro Coliseum in 1977 for a four year stint.  Carolina and Duke split with UNC winning in 1977 and 1979 and Duke winning in 1978 and 1980.  (Note: four photographs in the online collection lack definite identifications with “late 1970s” being the estimated date range, and another photograph only dated as “1980s” appears for all searches for the years 1980 through 1989.  Please try your hand at identifying the photographs and leave a comment with your findings!)

Carolina won in 1981 back at Capital Center, and then again in Greensboro in 1982, where the Tar Heels won the NCAA Championship again 1982.  The tournament moved again in 1983—this time to the Omni in Atlanta where NC State won over Virginia and went on to its second NCAA Championship.  Maryland beat Duke back in Greensboro in 1984 and Georgia Tech won its first ACC Tournament at the Omni in 1985, beating North Carolina.

Duke won twice in Greensboro in 1986 and 1988 while NC State won at Capital Center in 1987.  Carolina beat Duke 77 to 74 in 1989 at the Omni before the tournament moved back to the Charlotte Coliseum in 1990 for five years with Georgia Tech winning twice, in 1990 and 1993, and North Carolina twice, in 1991 and 1994.  Duke won in 1992 adding a NCAA Championship. The years 1995 to 1998 were back in Greensboro where Wake Forest won twice, in 1995 and 1996, and Carolina won in 1997.  And I believe that’s where we came in with Morton shooting the 1997 tournament in Greensboro.  Morton’s last ACC Tournament was in 2002 at the Charlotte Coliseum.

Since Morton made “tournament headlines” in Greensboro in 1997, the ACC Tournament has played out nineteen times and Morton’s Tar Heels have won only four of those events, while Duke has won ten. (And it should be pointed out that Duke’s wins in 2001, 2010, and 2015 were followed up with NCAA championships). Florida State, Miami, and Notre Dame have added one win each while Maryland and Virginia have added one each to their championships lists.  Also, the tournament has added two additional venues since 1997: DC in 2006 and Tampa, Florida in 2007.

Ten years after Tampa was added, the tournament moves to Brooklyn, New York in 2017—where Duke will be going for overall tournament championship number twenty, UNC will be going for number nineteen, NC State will be looking for number eleven, and Wake Forest number five.  But as ACC basketball goes, any one of the now fifteen member teams could win in the “Big Apple” this March as “Madness” abounds.

Posted in Basketball, Sports, UNC | Comments Off on If it’s March, there must be madness

Artifact of the Month: Saunders Hall plaque

This month’s Artifact of the Month is the plaque that appeared on the building now known as Carolina Hall.

Image of a Plaque

Completed in 1922, the academic building originally got its name from class of 1854 graduate William Lawrence Saunders. Leading into 2015, UNC students objected to Saunders’ reported membership in the Ku Klux Klan and issued a call to action. According to the News and Observer, the UNC Board of Trustees deliberated for “about a year,” eventually voting 10-3 to select a more “unifying name.”

Even before the Board’s deliberation, some students proposed that the building should honor anthropologist and writer Zora Neal Hurston. The students advocated for that name because as an African American woman, her identity contrasted the issues of racism and sexism perpetuated by having Saunders’ name on the building. Hurston also had ties to the University: in 1939 she attended writing classes at UNC with playwright Paul Green. Some activists used hashtags like “#HurstonHall” on Twitter, while others made T-shirts like this one, from the University Archives’ digital T-shirt archive.

Image of a T-Shirt

On May 28, 2015, the UNC Board of Trustees proceeded with renaming Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. The Board also issued a sixteen-year moratorium on renaming historic buildings. According to The Daily Tar Heel, some activists critiqued the moratorium as well as the selection of the name “Carolina Hall.”

In a May 2015 article of the Daily Tar Heel, senior Judy Robbins was quoted as saying, “Renaming it Carolina Hall is automatically silencing all of the students who worked on this and also all students of color who have ever attended UNC and ever will attend UNC.” Carolina Hall officially reopened in the fall of that same year with a new name plaque. The old Saunders Hall plaque came to the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

On November 11, 2016, a new exhibit opened exploring the history of the building’s name, William Saunders, and the Reconstruction era.

Picture of Exhibit

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Carolina Firsts: Karen L. Parker

At the University Day celebration on October 11, 2016, Chancellor Carol Folt announced a new program to name scholarships after notable “firsts” in UNC history. In recognition of the individuals recognized as pioneers at UNC, the University Archives is publishing blog posts with more information about each of the twenty-one “firsts.” This post is part of that series.

Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Karen L. Parker made history at UNC in 1965, when she became the first African American woman to receive an undergraduate degree from the University.

Parker began her studies at UNC in 1963 following two years of study at the North Carolina Women’s College in Greensboro (now UNC-Greensboro). During her time at UNC, she took an active role in the local and national civil rights movements, participating in sit-ins and marches. The diary she kept as a student — which documents her experience on campus and in the community, her hopes and goals for the future, and the trials she encountered along the way — has been digitized and can be found in the Southern Historical Collection.  

At UNC, Parker majored in Journalism. For her senior year, she was named the editor of The Journalista news publication put out by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Parker was also chosen to participate in UNC’s exchange program with the University of Toronto.

After graduating, Parker went on to have a successful career in journalism, working at Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Michigan; the Los Angeles Times; and other publications before returning to North Carolina to work at the Winston-Salem Journal. She retired in 2010, and was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 2012.

Parker has been active with UNC, serving on the Friends of the Library Board and the Board of the General Alumni Association. In 2015, during the campaign to rename the former Saunders Hall (now Carolina Hall), a UNC student wrote to the Daily Tar Heel published a letter to the editor, suggesting that the building be renamed in honor of Karen Parker.

Sources and Further Reading:

A Role Model for Change.” UNC News Services, February 19, 2015.

Karen Parker.” I Raised My Hand to Volunteer, UNC Library Exhibit, 2007.

Morgan Jones, “Karen Parker: A Woman to Remember.” For the Record, UNC University Archives blog, March 18, 2013.

Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Oral Histories:

  • February 2007 interview with the Southern Oral History Program
  • April 2007 interview with the Southern Oral History Program
  • December 2012 interview with UNC-Greensboro
  • March 2016 interview with the Southern Oral History Program
Posted in black history, Carolina Firsts, Civil Rights, Karen Parker, Student LIfe, University Archives, University History, women at carolina | Comments Off on Carolina Firsts: Karen L. Parker

A Cartoon Mystery Solved

An ink drawing of two trains about to collide on the same track, one labelled "Chemistry" and one labelled "Physics"above a drawing of two roosters about to fight.

A late 1870s conflict between the Chemistry and Physics departments depicted as a train wreck and a cock fight. From the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives.

A few years ago, we posted about a series of cartoons found in the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005). The large, undated drawings showed Chemistry and Physics as colliding trains, fighting roosters, and scuffling men. We weren’t sure when the cartoons were made, or what exactly they meant. But while searching the Daily Tar Heel on today, I stumbled across a story that offers an explanation – a story of inter-departmental conflict and a creative student prank.

The June 6, 1904 issue of the Daily Tar Heel reports that the Alumni Association invited Judge Francis D. Winston, class of 1879, to speak and share his memories of his time at UNC. In his speech, he recalled:

The reopened University* found itself practically without scientific apparatus. Its scarcity caused a conflict between two members of the faculty. The institution owned a dilapidated air pump, which was claimed by two departments – Chemistry and Physics. The professor of Physics, a man of few words and quick to act, took it to his room in the end of the Old West. In his absence the professor of chemistry had it taken to Person Hall by the college servant. Professor [Ralph Henry] Graves arrived on the scene just as it reached the door. He seized it and had it returned. Professor [Alexander Fletcher Redd] Reed [sic] interfered and they came ‘mighty nigh fighting’with chemistry worsted. And this was in the days of a struggling college, over an instrument which Dr. Elisha Mitchell had condemned as useless in 1856 and which had not exhausted air in a quarter of a century.

An ink drawing showing two men in suits fighting over an air pump, which is on the ground between them. One man is labelled "Chemistry" and the other "Physics." The man labelled "Chemistry" has a speech bubble coming from his mouth that reads, "I'll be damned if you shall!" Above the men is the header "The Climax Reached."

Two men, presumably Professors Redd and Graves, shown in conflict over an air pump. The man labelled “Chemistry” has a speech bubble that reads, “I’ll be damned if you shall.” From the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives.

The morning after this occurrence there was seen over the rostrum in the chapel, a large drawing in flaming colors, of two engines approaching each other on the same track. They were labeled Chemistry and Physics. Another scene told the story. Chemistry was derailed and demolished. Every student was at prayers that morning. The interest was manifest.

Dr. [Charles] Phillips was conducting chapel prayers that week. When he entered the door he took in the situation at a glance. When near the bull pen he broke into a quick run. He was applauded. He rushed up the steps to the hanging cartoons, but he failed to reach them, and he tried again and again. He was not without sympathy in the student body. How well do I recall their efforts of help and encouragement, when with his hand within an inch of the paper some one would cry: “Just a little more, oop-a-doop, a little higher.” But it was beyond his reach and he sat down. Wilson Caldwell, the college servant was sent for and the papers removed and prayers were said.

The next morning the artist put the incident into another form by having a game cock labeled Physics after a crestfallen, retreating rooster named Chemistry. The crowd was expectant. The good doctor saw the cartoons as he entered the door. He went to the desk with measured step. He appeared not to notice it. In the lesson that he read occurred this verse: ‘Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even or at midnight,’ and here he paused, ‘or at the cock crowing in the morning, lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping.’

Though Winston’s memories of the cartoons and the event they commemorated – shared thirty years after the fact – may not be entirely reliable, these cartoons now make a lot more sense. We now know that they were created between 1875 and 1879 and refer to a real conflict between two departments on campus. The drawing of the two men fighting over a piece of equipment labelled “air pump” can be taken much more literally than previously thought, as we now know it depicts an actual dispute over an air pump.

Although Winston remembered the train and rooster drawings appearing separately and they are here presented on one sheet of paper, the holes and tears at the corners of these cartoons suggest that these may some of the original drawings he remembered being hung in Gerrard Hall during chapel exercises.


*The University of North Carolina was closed from February 1871 to September 1875. Learn more about the University during the Civil War and Reconstruction. 


Posted in From the Archives, University Archives, University History | Comments Off on A Cartoon Mystery Solved

Did Hinton James Really Walk all the way to UNC?

The arrival of Hinton James, as imagined by the 1935 Yackety Yack.

It’s one of the most enduring legends of UNC history: a lone student, Hinton James, walking all the way from his home in Wilmington and arriving in Chapel Hill on February 12, 1795, where he reported to the one-building campus and enrolled, becoming the first student at the University of North Carolina. But did he really walk all the way here?

We’re not sure. We checked all of the records and reports that we could find and, while there are no contemporary reports confirming James’s long walk to Chapel Hill, there’s nothing to refute the story, either.

We know for certain that UNC officially opened on January 15, 1795. It was reported to be a blustery day and must have been an odd ceremony because there were no students present. The campus remained empty of students for four weeks before James arrived. For the two weeks after that, he was the only student at the school. Others trickled in after that and by 1798 James was part of the first graduating class at UNC, when a grand total of seven students received their diplomas.

Entry from the Philanthropic Society Minutes, 1795 (probably not written by Hinton James).

Hinton James did not have a lot of options for getting from Wilmington to Chapel Hill in 1795. We know he didn’t take I-40, and the arrival of railroads in North Carolina was still a few decades away. He probably traveled along recently established post roads to Raleigh and then found his way to Chapel Hill. For the long trip inland he could have taken a horse-drawn carriage, ridden on horseback, or, of course, walked. Given reports about the state of the roads during that cold, wet winter, a carriage was probably out of the question.

Hinton James’s signature from an 1838 letter reflecting on his time at UNC.

In the University Archives, there is a short account of the early days of the University written by Hinton James himself in 1838. He mentions the names of early professors and students and describes early exams, but does not talk about how he got to campus.

The earliest account that we’ve been able find, which mentions James’s mode of travel, was a speech by UNC history professor (and later President) Kemp Plummer Battle at University Day in 1880 (later reprinted in the 1886-1887 North Carolina University Magazine). Battle wrote, “Soon the first student came in — journeying all the way, hundreds of miles, from the Lower Cape Fear, on horseback doubtless, saddle-bags between his legs.”

Shirt from Hinton James Day, ca. 2010. From the UNC T-Shirt Archive.

Battle wrote about James in both volumes of his history of the University, though he told the story slightly differently in each. In the first volume, published in 1907, he wrote, “It was not until the 12th of February that the first student arrived, with no companion, all the way from the banks of the lower Cape Fear, the precursor of a long line of seekers after knowledge. His residence was Wilmington, his name Hinton James.” By saying that James arrived with “no companion,” Battle likely meant that he was the only student at the time. But this phrase may have been interpreted to mean that James made the entire trip by himself, a common detail in the story we often hear today.

After Battle’s history was published, the story began to take on the form we know today. Early 20th century issues of the Tar Heel mention James as the first student, but the first suggestion we could find of his having walked was in a 1908 article about the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies, which referred to “the time when Hinton James first tramped from Wilmington to Chapel Hill and found himself the only student on the campus.” (Tar Heel, 17 September 1908).

When Kemp Battle published the second volume of his history of UNC, in 1912, the story changed a little: “Thus it happens that Hinton James has gained immortal fame by being the first to trudge through the muddy roads of the winter of 1795, and presenting himself to the delighted gaze of the first presiding Professor, Dr. David Ker, exactly four weeks after the session began.”

Note that these don’t specifically say that he walked. Can one tramp or trudge on horseback? We’re not sure.

It didn’t take much longer for the myth to begin to take shape. A 1920 Tar Heel article  said that “Hinton James established the Carolina long-distance walking record by tramping all the way from Wilmington so that he could be the first student to enter the University when it opened in 1795.” (Tar Heel, 20 June 1920).

While the story took hold, some still expressed doubt. At the University’s Sesquicentennial Convocation in April 1946, Victor Bryant, the chairman of the Legislative Committee on the Sesquicentennial, delivered the opening remarks. Bryant said, “We are told [Hinton James] had walked to Chapel Hill from his home in Wilmington, though I believe it possible that he did some hitch-hiking.”

In 2008, these UNC alums followed in Hinton James’s footsteps by walking all the way from Wilmington to Chapel Hill. (UNC News Services)

In Archibald Henderson’s 1949 book, The Campus of the First State University, James’s trek had the sound of a mythical journey: “The ambitious freshman of eighteen years, historic in primacy, trudged manfully more than 150 miles to reach the beckoning bourne of the State University on February 12, 1795.”

By the time William Snider published Light on the Hill, in 1992, there seemed to be no doubt about James’s long journey. Referring to the first student, Snider writes, “His name was Hinton James and he walked the entire distance from his native Wilmington to Chapel Hill to enroll.”

So, returning to our original question: did Hinton James really walk the whole way from Wilmington to Chapel Hill? We don’t know. There’s nothing in the University Archives that says he did, but there’s also nothing to prove otherwise. As we’ve seen, the earliest account says James “probably” came on horseback, and it took a while for the full walking story to emerge. However, it’s certainly possible that this is a true story that was simply carried orally through the generations. No matter how Hinton James got here, it had to have been a difficult trip and serves as an enduring inspiration to the the generations of students who have continued to follow him in their own journeys to Chapel Hill.

Posted in University Archives, University History | Comments Off on Did Hinton James Really Walk all the way to UNC?

Ida Howell Friday

Detail of Ida Friday, from a group portrait by Hugh Morton, with her husband William Friday and their daughter Betsy after Ida received the University Medal from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 4 December 1985. (Photograph cropped by the author. To see the alternate portrait visit

Detail of Ida Friday, from a group portrait by Hugh Morton, with her husband William Friday and their daughter Betsy after Ida received the University Medal from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 4 December 1985. (Photograph cropped by the author. Click on the photograph above to see the alternate portrait without cropping.)

There is news today that Ida Howell Friday, widow of former UNC President William “Bill” Friday, passed away on Monday.  She was 97.  Bill Friday encouraged Hugh Morton to donate his photographic archive to the North Carolina Collection.  There are a handful of images of Ida Friday in the online Hugh Morton collection, one of which can be seen below.  An online obituary can be read at the News and Observer website.

(L to R, Front Row): NC Governor Jim Hunt, NC Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green, and unidentified. Behind them are UNC President William Friday, and Friday's wife Ida. NCAA Championship, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, 29 March 1982. (Cropped by the author.)

(L to R, Front Row): NC Governor Jim Hunt, NC Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green, and unidentified. Behind them are UNC President William Friday, and Friday’s wife Ida. NCAA Championship, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, 29 March 1982. (Cropped by the author.)


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German POWs at UNC

During World War II, UNC employed German prisoners of war in the dining halls.  Beginning in 1943, the Navy rented facilities from UNC to operate a Pre-Flight Training School and other training grounds.  As part of that arrangement, Lenoir Hall became a dining hall exclusively for Pre-Flight Cadets.  Renovations to Lenoir gave it a seating capacity of 1,800.  To maximize efficiency, waiters served the meals “family style” as opposed to having the cadets wait in a cafeteria line.  Some of those waiters were POWs bussed in from Camp Butner in Granville County, northeast of Durham.

Camp Butner received its first influx of German prisoners in Spring 1944.  It would become the largest POW camp in North Carolina with 889 prisoners as of June 1944.  While most of the Butner prisoners maintained the military installation, others worked outside the camp for civilian businesses.  A report on Camp Butner from April 1945 counted 110 prisoners employed as mess attendants at Duke University and UNC.

Excerpted from “Report of Inspection of Medical Activities at University of North Carolina: 6 November 1944” in Office of the Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina Records, University Archives, Wilson Library

There is very little information on these war prisoners in the University Archives.  The papers of the Vice President for Finance mentions them twice with respect to the financial arrangement between UNC and the Navy.  The Daily Tar Heel, however, offers more information about the German war prisoners and their reception on campus.  Barbara Swift, an opinion columnist, observed the prisoners “lying in the grass in front of Lenoir Dining Hall . . . laughing and talking, playing with a pack of campus poodles that happen[ed] by.”  She further speculated that “some profound change has come over these prisoners who have seen a tiny part of America.”

Others were more cynical.  A student objected to Swift’s “rosy picture of healthy boys,” instead depicting the war prisoners as “arrogant and conceited.”  He further argued that “They are not willing to accept or even listen to our beliefs and ideals.  They regard us as stupid, lazy Americans.”  This small debate in The Daily Tar Heel reveals something about the German war prisoners at UNC.  Though they are well hidden in the historical record, the German prisoners were a familiar sight to UNC students.  However, students rarely engaged with them.  It is unknown whether careful guarding, social taboos, the language barrier, or some combination thereof isolated the prisoners from the students.  People who worked in the dining hall clearly had contact with the prisoners, but the archive has no record, that we could find, of those relationships.


“National Defense Navy: Commissioning/Decommissioning, 1943-1946” in Office of the Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina (System) Records, University Archives, Wilson Library.

Robert D. Billinger Jr., Nazi POWs in the Tar Heel State, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008).

Barbara Swift, “They Tell Me,” Daily Tar Heel, 5 August 1944.

“Unknown Writer Insists Nazi’s Arrogant,” Daily Tar Heel, 8 August 1944.

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Charles Scott and the Integration of Varsity Sports at Carolina

Exhibit runs from Jan. 30 to April 30 on the fourth floor of Wilson Library. Continue reading
Posted in Athletics, Exhibits, Homepage Exhibits, Homepage Special Collections, Photography, Special Collections, UNC History, University Archives | Comments Off on Charles Scott and the Integration of Varsity Sports at Carolina