From the Archives: James Walker to Robert House: “I have made footprints around the world defending a free society.”

UNC admitted its first African American students in 1951. While the students were able to enroll in classes and live in a dorm, many of the campus activities remained either closed to African Americans or strictly segregated. We came across an example of the students’ ongoing struggle to participate in normal campus life in a letter from James Walker to Chancellor Robert House in January 1952.

As the law school students planned their traditional spring dance, the question arose about whether the recently-admitted African American students would be able to attend. The student-run Law Association put it to a vote, asking whether the dance should be open to all students. The vote was fairly close, passing 82-63. The Daily Tar Heel reported on the “possible bi-racial dance,” calling it “the first in the history of the University and perhaps in the South” (DTH 1/15/52).

But the possibility of an integrated dance was quickly vetoed by the campus administration. Citing a Board of Trustees ruling prohibiting unsegregated social gatherings, Chancellor House wrote that “no mixed social functions shall be held on the University campus.” (DTH 1/16/52)

The letter shown below is James Walker’s response to House’s ruling. It is from the Chancellor’s records in University Archives, included among clippings and correspondence documenting desegregation efforts at the university, including Walker’s push to end segregated seating in Kenan Stadium.

Walker writes of his frustration at House’s decision, noting that it was especially cruel for having been announced right before exams. But Walker remains undeterred, writing, “I will never accept the denial of a privilege. I have made footprints around the world defending a free society.”

Letter from James Walker Jr. (page one), in the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Robert Burton House Records #40019, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Letter from James Walker Jr. (page two), in the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Robert Burton House Records #40019, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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New Collection Documents the Infamous 1939 Carolina Buccaneer “Sex Issue”

buc1The combination of scandalous content and official censorship makes the story of the 1939 Carolina Buccaneer “Sex Issue” one of the most intriguing in UNC history.

A new collection in the University Archives helps to shed more light on the story of the “Sex Issue” and its hasty suppression by campus leaders. We are pleased to make available for research a small collection from Bill Stauber, who was the editor of the Buccaneer at the time the contentious issue was published. The papers include photos, clippings, letters, and, perhaps most interesting, an original copy of the uncensored cover of the November 1939 issue. The collection was donated by Stauber’s son.

The Carolina Buccaneer was a student humor magazine published on campus from 1924 through 1940. The magazine had colorful covers and a professional layout. It had the appearance of a national glossy magazine, but the content was strictly local. Most of the articles referred to campus personalities and incidents long forgotten, making it often difficult for modern readers to find the humor in some of the pieces. (Anyone interested in exploring for themselves can find a full run of the Buccaneer in the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library.)

The Buccaneer liked to push the limits with its cartoons depicting scantily-clad women and off-color poems and stories. In the fall of 1939, the magazine’s editors finally crossed the line, leading student government to condemn the issue and campus administrators to aid in its destruction.

The content of the November 1939 issue is fairly tame by contemporary standards, though readers today are much more likely to find offense at the treatment of women in the text (which largely survived in the revised edition that was published) rather than the revealing illustrations (which were removed).


Daily Tar Heel, 15 November 1939

The original “Sex Issue” was set for release in mid-November 1939, but campus leaders got hold of it first. Interestingly, it was not university administrators who ordered the suppression of the issue.  Jim Davis, student body president, said “such an issue would seriously and permanently damage the reputation and lessen the prestige of the University in general.” The Student Council ordered the destruction of the issues and asked the editor to revise the magazine before re-submitting for publication. (This raises an interesting question about the approval process for student publications. I haven’t looked to try to determine whether all student publications had to be submitted for review before distribution or if this issue of the Buccaneer was a special case.)

A few days later, the Daily Tar Heel reported that the 4,000 issues of the offending issue were “unceremoniously dumped into the fiery depths of Chapel Hill’s incinerator.”

A revised edition of the November 1939 Buccaneer was published later in the month, with a nearly all-white cover calling attention to the censorship of the student council. Here, for the first time that we are aware, are all three covers of the Buccaneer “Sex Issue”: the original illustration, the cover that appeared on the destroyed issues, and the revised cover.

Original, uncensored cover of the November 1939 Buccaneer "Sex Issue." William Stauber Papers, University Archives

Original, uncensored cover of the November 1939 Buccaneer “Sex Issue.” William Stauber Papers, University Archives

Revised cover of the Buccaneer "Sex Issue." North Carolina Collection.

Revised cover of the Buccaneer “Sex Issue.” North Carolina Collection.

Revised, "Censored Edition" of the 1939 Buccaneer "Sex Issue." North Carolina Collection.

Revised Edition of the 1939 Buccaneer “Sex Issue.” North Carolina Collection.

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Human Dissection in the Early Years of Medical Education at UNC

The UNC School of Medicine opened in 1879 as a two-year preparatory program under the direction of Dr. Thomas West Harris. As dean of the fledgling school, he was not paid by the University but rather directly by students who took his classes. Dissection of human cadavers was considered an important part of the study of anatomy. The UNC course catalog of 1884 noted, “Dissection is made obligatory on students of anatomy. After the dissections are over, a short course on the operations of surgery is given. Students have the opportunity of making the operations for themselves.”

Dean of the UNC Medical School Dr. Richard Whitehead (center), medical students, and an assistant (front right) pose with a cadaver in the 1890s. From the University of North Carolina Image Collection, North Carolina Collection.

Dean of the UNC Medical School Dr. Richard Whitehead (center), medical students, and an assistant (front right) pose with a cadaver in the 1890s. From the University of North Carolina Image Collection, North Carolina Collection.

However, at this time it was difficult to procure cadavers for dissection, and medical schools were notorious for using bodies disinterred by graverobbers or “resurrectionists.” These men preyed on the graves of marginalized people – in the South, primarily African Americans. It is unclear how the University obtained cadavers in the earliest days of the Medical School, but students operated almost exclusively on on the bodies of African Americans, some of which may have been stolen.

At the time the Medical School was founded, there were no laws in North Carolina against graverobbing. In his history of the University, Kemp Plummer Battle, who was president during this period, recalled that one night, a woman who had worked as his father’s cook came to his house. She told him that a body had been stolen from a cemetery and a group was coming to search the University. Battle then confronted Dr. Harris, who only responded, “They will not find anything.” Battle reported that the body was not found and the culprits never identified, and professors assured the community that their students would not steal bodies. In 1885, the state made graverobbing a felony. According to Battle, this was in part due to local anxiety about dissection at the medical school.

After six years at UNC, Dr. Harris resigned to continue practicing medicine full-time in Durham and the Medical School closed. It reopened in 1890 under the leadership of Dean Richard Whitehead. In a letter Whitehead wrote to Professor Francis Venable shortly before beginning his tenure as dean, he emphasized the importance of dissection in his teaching.

Believing that only nature’s drawings are true, the instruction in [anatomy] will be eminently practical. The statements made will be proven by actual demonstration upon the cadaver, bones, and prepared specimens, and the student will be required to verify these statements for himself by dissecting and studying the dissected cadaver, as this is the only way in which a useful acquaintance with anatomy can be obtained.

According to Warner Lee Wells’ “Medical Education at Chapel Hill,” Whitehead was “vigorously opposed” to graverobbing and, once, when he learned a body had been disinterred, demanded that it be properly reburied. Whitehead instead purchased bodies, but they were often hard to obtain. Wells says that when cadavers were scarce, Whitehead would dissect one half of the body as a demonstration and then allow the students to dissect the other half.

In his 1891 annual report to the Board of Trustees, President Battle explained that new legislation might improve the situation:

If the bill now pending in the General Assembly which is like those of many other states, giving to this school the unclaimed bodies of convicts shall become law, there will be abundance of material for dissection. If not such material must be obtained as heretofore, at considerable expense, from a Western City.

It’s unclear which “Western City” Battle is referring to – the report Whitehead submitted to Battle the week before Battle presented to the Board says that cadavers were being bought from New York.

Soon after, a bill did pass granting medical schools in the state the unclaimed bodies of convicts. When the law was repealed in 1899, Whitehead lamented that the school’s “existence [was] in jeopardy . . . unless dissecting material can be obtained, it will be necessary to close the school.” He lobbied for a new bill, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. On January 19, 1899, the News and Observer reported:

[Whitehead] said that there are two methods by which bodies can be obtained: One by systematic robbery of graves; and one is by law. He didn’t think the law ought to apply to any one except outcasts.

The proposed bill, he said, was a copy of the law in operation in a neighboring State. ‘I have been buying bodies in Northern States, but I can no longer do that. All the States now have laws forbidding the exportation of bodies, and no one can be found bold enough to undertake it. When I was able to get them they cost $40 apiece. Now I can’t get them at any price, and personally I’m not going into the grave robbing business.

So you will see some such law as this is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the medical schools of the State. Anatomy cannot be taught properly without the dissection of human bodies. For my school about nine bodies a year are required. I do not know how many are required for the other two schools – Davidson and Shaw.’

Dr. Whitehead thought under this law the bodies would cost about $10 each.

In his statement to the Judiciary Committee, Whitehead also revealed that UNC’s medical school, like many others, especially in the South, relied almost exclusively on the bodies of black men and women. According to the News and Observer, Whitehead testified that “only one white person had ever been dissected in his school. That was a young white man, about 18, that died in the criminal insane department.”




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Exam Spoilers…for Fall 1885

Could you pass finals in 1885?

While looking through the University Papers this week, I found these exams administered at the end of the fall semester in 1885. There is one for Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics and English. Some of the questions would be familiar to a student today, but others, not so much. Can you tell us “what are the defects of our Alphabet?”

Physics English Chemistry Astronomy

Exams administered December 1885 (from the University Papers, #40005, University Archives).

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The other half of the hyphen

Newscaster David Brinkley sitting before/after a news conference. The slide mount date is February 1971.

Newscaster David Brinkley sitting before/after a news conference. The slide mount date is February 1971.

On April 24, 1988—twenty-eight years ago this week, Hall of Fame newsman and broadcaster David Brinkley (July 10, 1920 – June 11, 2003) delivered the Reed Sarratt Distinguished Lecture in Hill Hall on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill.  Brinkley, a native of Wilmington, briefly attended UNC before joining the United States Army in 1940.  In 1988 Brinkley was a commentator for ABC World News Tonight, but many in attendance that evening remembered him from his NBC News days as the “other half of the hyphen” on the Huntley–Brinkley Report from 1956 to 1970.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of David Brinkley.


People have the illusion that all over the world, all the time, all kinds of fantastic things are happening. When in fact, over most of the world, most of the time, nothing is happening. —David Brinkley

One of my earliest TV memories is watching the evening news on CBS with my family in Asheboro, N. C.  In the years 1951 and ’52 we had a 14-inch black-and-white General Electric model TV set.  The news anchor was Douglas Edwards, but we didn’t know him as an anchor in those days.  He was just the face on the screen.  My dad often said he wished we could get the news on NBC because he had grown up with news on the radio with names like H. V. Kaltenborn, Ben Grauer, Morgan Beatty, and Bill Henry. But there wasn’t an NBC affiliated station in the Triad in those days.  WFMY-TV in Greensboro was the only television station in the Greensboro–High Point–Winston-Salem market.  So CBS was our only choice.

In the summer of 1952 we were able to see the Democratic and Republican parties’ national political conventions from Chicago, and the new face on CBS was a man with a funny last name: Walter Cronkite. Television had been at the 1948 conventions with a limited number of stations, but there weren’t many sets in use back then so that TV presence is nothing more than a historical footnote today.  In ’52 things were different.  Most everyone with a TV set watched the conventions, and the day-to-day happenings in Chicago became water-cooler conversations across the nation.

Then, on September 30, 1953, my dad got his wish—television station WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, an NBC affiliate, signed on the air.  (The station today is WXII-TV).  Most of my dad’s NBC News favorites were there on The Camel News Caravan with John Cameron Swayze.  In addition, there was also a reporter named David Brinkley.

Brinkley began his television career at NBC in 1951, having worked for United Press starting in 1943 following his military service in the army.  One of Brinkley’s early NBC assignments was to cover President Harry Truman’s trip to Winston-Salem for the groundbreaking ceremony for Wake Forest College. (Hugh Morton attended that ceremony as well and we hope to write a post about the ceremony later this year in October.)

When it came time for the 1956 political conventions, NBC faced a major challenge. Walter Cronkite had set a high mark in ’52, so executives at NBC News looked for a way to compete with Cronkite. Their plan was to put in place two anchors for the broadcast. Originally they considered teaming Bill Henry with Ray Scherer, but the NBC brass ultimately decided on Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. This unattributed photographic print in the Hugh Morton collection is likely a publicity photograph distributed by NBC. A similar photograph on the NBCUniversal website (submitted by Anonymous) dates the photograph as 1956. See

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. This unattributed photographic print in the Hugh Morton collection is likely a publicity photograph distributed by NBC. A similar photograph on the NBCUniversal website (submitted by Anonymous) dates the photograph as 1956. See

The double-team worked.  It worked so well, in fact, that on October 29, 1956, the two-man-team took over the NBC evening newscast; thus was born the Huntley-Brinkley Report, with Chet Huntley in New York and David Brinkley in Washington.  Brinkley’s dry wit and Huntley’s serious tone became the newscast to watch. Their catchphrase ending to each night’s broadcast was  “Good night, Chet. Good night David. And Good Night for NBC News”—followed by the second movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as credits rolled.

The tandem proved to be a ratings’ winner.  It was not until the late 1960s that CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite finally caught up in the ratings’ race.  From 1961 until 1963, David Brinkley added a magazine show to his resume called David Brinkley’s Journal.  I remember how frustrated I was as a UNC student in 1961 when the local NBC station in the Triangle chose not to carry the program.  The final Huntley–Brinkley Report aired on July 31, 1970 when Chet Huntley retired from NBC News.

Profile shot of newsman David Brinkley standing in silhouette on the Hilton Hotel Pier on the Cape Fear Waterfront in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the USS North Carolina in background. Morton was instrumental in bringing the mothballed battleship to Wilmington in 1961; Brinkley, a Wilmington native, appeared in public service television spots for fundraising. Morton made this portrait during Wilmington's "David Brinkley Day" on 7 January 1971.

Profile shot of newsman David Brinkley standing in silhouette on the Hilton Hotel Pier on the Cape Fear Waterfront in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the USS North Carolina in background. Morton was instrumental in bringing the mothballed battleship to Wilmington in 1961; Brinkley, a Wilmington native, appeared in public service television spots for fundraising. Morton made this portrait during Wilmington’s “David Brinkley Day” on 7 January 1971.

On January 7, 1971, the city of Wilmington staged a special celebration for its native son, declaring the day “David Brinkley Day.” A Chamber of Commerce committee that included Hugh Morton, Wayne Jackson from WECT-TV, and Allen Jones from WGNI Radio, planned the event. Morton’s job was to prepare a “This is Your Life, David Brinkley” slide show. With help from Al Dickson the executive editor of the Wilmington Star-News, Morton was able to get pictures from Brinkley’s early days in Wilmington when as a high school student he had worked for the paper. Jackson was able to get Chet Huntley to narrate the slide show, which was the hit of the banquet that evening.  Following the slide show, Morton said, “We are pretty certain we saw tears on the cheeks of the usually unemotional David Brinkley, once the light came back on.”

Brinkley continued at NBC News doing anchor work and commentary until 1981 when he left for ABC News.  There Brinkley did commentary for the evening news and added This Week with David Brinkley, a Sunday morning interview program with news analysis. The award-winning Sunday morning program continued until November 10, 1996.

Brinkley wrote three books, including the critically acclaimed 1988 bestseller Washington Goes to War about how World War II transformed the nation’s capital.  The title of his 1995 memoir sums up his career in broadcasting: David Brinkley: 11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 Years of Growing Up in North Carolina.”

During his career Brinkley won ten Emmy Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and, in 1958, the Alfred I. DuPont Award.  In 1982 he received the Paul White Award for lifetime achievement from the Radio Television Digital News Association. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1988 and the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 1989.  In 1992 President George H.W. Bush awarded Brinkley the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On Wednesday, June 11, 2003, David Brinkley died at his home in Houston, Texas from complications after a fall.  He was 82.  Richard Severo, writing in the June 12, 2003 edition of The New York Times began his Brinkley obituary with these words:

David Brinkley, whose pungent news commentaries, delivered with a mixture of wry skepticism and succinct candor, set the standard for network television for generations . . .

Brinkley is buried in the beautiful Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Epitaph on David Brinkley's gravestone in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C. Photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 7 November 2015.

Epitaph on David Brinkley’s gravestone in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C. Photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 7 November 2015.

An Epilog
The Reed Sarratt Distinguished Lecture Series brings some of the best and brightest minds in the field of journalism and mass communications to the UNC campus each spring semester to discuss matters of importance and concern. The series was started with two events in 1987 and for its third event, the speaker was David Brinkley.

In addition to his discussion of journalism philosophy and principle, Brinkley shared a humorous story from a time when he was an anchor with NBC News:

Many years ago, when I was doing the Huntley-Brinkley Report, I was in an airport somewhere, and I was approached by a gray-haired lady.  She said, “Are you Chet Huntley?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  If I had walked up to Abbott and Costello, I’m not sure I would have known which one was which.  The woman in the lobby, still thinking she was addressing Huntley, told me she liked me just fine.  Then she said but I don’t know how you can stand that idiot Brinkley.

Brinkley was a hit that day at his alma mater, and four years later returned to deliver the commencement address on May 10, 1992.

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Historic African American Enrollment at UNC

African American students were prohibited from enrolling at the University of North Carolina until 1951, when a court decision forced the university to begin admitting African American students to the graduate schools. African American students joined the undergraduate population in 1955.

The number of African American students enrolled at UNC has increased steadily since the 1950s. In Wilson Library, we frequently receive requests asking for statistical data on the historic enrollment of African American students at UNC. The table below represents our best efforts to determine enrollment numbers and statistics. With changes in campus administration and frequent reorganization, there was not a single place we could look to easily find all enrollment numbers from the past 65 years. For some years, we have not been able to find any statistics on African American enrollment, but we are still looking and will update this table whenever we have additional information. These statistics are also available in an Excel spreadsheet that includes numbers by student type (undergraduate / graduate / professional) and full citations for each year’s figures.

Year African American Students Enrolled Total Enrollment Percentage of African American Enrollment
1951-1952 6 5,773 .10%
1952-1953 2 5,474 .04%
1953-1954 3 5,676 .05%
1954-1955 14 6,061 .20%
1955-1956 10 6,575 .20%
1956-1957 11 6,971 .20%
1957-1958 15 7,038 .20%
1958-1959 26 7,513 .30%
1959-1960 %
1960-1961 %
1961-1962 %
1962-1963 9,604 %
1963-1964 10,887 %
1964-1965 11,303 %
1965-1966 12,419 %
1966-1967 13,480 %
1967-1968 15,601 %
1968-1969 16,233 %
1969-1970 238 16,430 1.40%
1970-1971 420 18,130 2.30%
1971-1972 637 19,160 3.30%
1972-1973 844 19,224 4.40%
1973-1974 985 19,396 5.10%
1974-1975 1198 19,563 6.10%
1975-1976 1363 20,536 6.60%
1976-1977 1,281 20,293 6.30%
1977-1978 1,269 20,162 6.30%
1978-1979 1,385 20,294 6.80%
1979-1980 1,581 21,060 7.50%
1980-1981 1,687 21,465 7.90%
1981-1982 1,809 21,575 8.40%
1982-1983 1,941 22,016 8.80%
1983-1984 1,883 21,757 8.70%
1984-1985 1,792 21,612 8.30%
1985-1986 1,742 22,021 7.90%
1986-1987 1,773 22,781 7.80%
1987-1988 1,726 22,921 7.50%
1988-1989 1,840 23,579 7.80%
1989-1990 1,921 23,592 8.10%
1990-1991 2,060 23,852 8.60%
1991-1992 2,023 23,794 8.50%
1992-1993 2,078 23,944 8.70%
1993-1994 2,082 24,299 8.60%
1994-1995 2,161 24,463 8.80%
1995-1996 2,254 24,439 9.20%
1996-1997 2,310 24,141 9.6%
1997-1998 2,364 24,189 9.8%
1998-1999 2,402 24,328 9.9%
1999-2000 2,419 24,635 9.8%
2000-2001 2,398 24,872 9.6%
2001-2002 2,490 25,464 9.8%
2002-2003 2,574 26,028 9.9%
2003-2004 2,658 26,359 10.1%
2004-2005 2,686 26,878 10.0%
2005-2006 2,692 27,276 9.9%
2006-2007 2,756 27,717 9.9%
2007-2008 2,813 28,136 9.9%
2008-2009 2,820 28,567 9.9%
2009-2010 2,793 28,916 9.7%
2010-2011 2,504 29,390 8.5%
2011-2012 2,489 29,137 8.5%
2012-2013 2,422 29,278 8.3%
2013-2014 2,334 29,127 8.0%
2014-2015 2,304 29,135 7.9%
2015-2016 2,353 29,048 8.1%

Statistics from 1951 to 1970 come primarily from the Records of the Office of the Registrar and Director of Institutional Research (#40130). Those from 1971 to 1980 come from the Records of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration (#40301), and those from 1981 to 1986 come from the Records of the Office of the Chancellor (Fordham, #40024). Statistics from 1986 to present come from the UNC-Chapel Hill Fact Books produced by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. See the Excel spreadsheet for more detailed information on sources used.

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Update: The Curious Case of the Cuban Club

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the Cuban Club, a short-lived club for Cuban students at UNC in the early 20th century. This week, I came across a letter written just months after the Spanish-American War in which Major General Joseph Wheeler, president of the Cuban Educational Association, tells UNC President Edwin Alderman that he “note[s] with pleasure that you state that the University of North Carolina would easily give scholarships, remitting all tuition to several [Cuban students].”

The Cuban Educational Association operated from 1898 to 1901 and partnered with colleges across the United States to send Cuban and Puerto Rican college-age students to school in the United States. Universities and colleges offered one to two students a full scholarship to cover books, tuition and fees. The students and their families had to cover the cost of living, usually $200 – $300 annually. Therefore, most of the students coming to the United States were from the middle and upper classes. The scholarship mandated that the students return home after graduation.

Over the four years it was in operation, the Cuban Educational Association and its over 50 partner institutions helped to send over 2,500 students to school in the United States. When these students returned home, most became teachers, doctors and lawyers in their communities.

This letter was written 10 years before the Cuban Club appeared in the Yackety Yack, but it suggests that the influx of students from Cuba in the early 20th century may have been related to work begun by the Cuban Educational Association.

ScholarshipDiscussion001 ScholarshipProgram002

Letter to Dr. Alderman from Joshua (from the University Papers, #40005, University Archives).

Original Post: The Curious Case of the Cuban Club

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New Collections: Activists, Educators, Families, and War

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights:

  • New materials span from 1764 to 2010
  • Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in between)
  • Grassroots organizing, coal mining, and educational activism are common themes
  • There are 3 Civil War photographs and 2 books containing personal sketches from much of the UNC Chapel Hill classes of 1859-1865

Click on any of the collection titles to learn more about the materials, view any digital items, and request them for use in our reading room.

Records of Activists & Educators

James Franklin Cooley Papers (5663)

James Franklin Cooley was an educator, minister, police officer, World War II veteran, judge, civil rights activist, and college administrator in Little Rock, Ark. The collection contains Cooley’s resume; scattered printed materials relating to his candidacy in statewide and local elections; proclamations, certificates, and awards; pages from biographical dictionaries containing James Franklin Cooley’s entry; and clippings about him.


Lynch (Ky.) Colored High School-West Main Alumni Association, Inc. Collection (5590)

Lynch Colored School in Harlan County, Ky., served African American children, kindergarten through twelfth grade, who lived in the neighboring coal camps and company towns of Lynch, Ky., and Benham, Ky. United States Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation established a segregated school system in 1923 to accommodate the children of the company’s black coal miners, many of whom had migrated from Alabama and Georgia.


Carol Wills Materials on Eddie Hatcher (5668)

Carol Wills worked for The Independent in Durham, N.C., during the time that Eddie Hatcher was on trial for holding hostages at the The Robesonian newspaper office. Eddie Hatcher was a Lumbee activist in Robeson County, N.C. He and Timothy Jacobs said they held hostages at The Robesonian to draw attention to racism, drug trafficing, and poverty in Lumberton and the county.


Leah Wise Papers (5645)*

Papers documenting social justice activities of Durham, N.C., activist Leah Wise including her work with global social justice organizations and in community action groups. There is particular focus on African and African American issues, workers’ rights, anti-racism and anti-Ku Klux Klan groups, women’s rights, and agricultural and agriculture workers’ issues.

*These materials are currently available only by request, and may require additional processing time to access. If you are interested in accessing materials in this collection, please contact


Kathleen Kitchen Wood Collection (5620)

The collection documents the local and grassroots political efforts of Kathleen Kitchen Wood (1926-2011) during the 1960s in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Printed items, correspondence, and organizational documents illustrate the work of politically moderate and mostly white or all white organizations with which Wood affiliated including Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.), which advocated for keeping Mobile’s public schools open during the court ordered desegregation crisis, and the Georgia Council on Human Relations.

Family Collections

Benjamin Hickman Bunn Papers (5677)

Papers of lawyer, North Carolina state legislator, congressman, and Democratic Party politician, Benjamin Hickman Bunn (1844-1907) include political correspondence, legal documents, financial materials, and some items related to the Bunn family of Nash County, N.C. Political correspondence chiefly concerns congressional elections and North Carolina Democratic Party conventions in the 1880s and 1890s and contains frequent references to the North Carolina Farmers’ Alliance.


James McNeill Papers (5624)

The James McNeill Papers consist of letters written between 1846 and 1866 by James McNeill in Lauderdale and Kemper counties, Mississippi. The letters reveal that James McNeill was a Democrat, a slaveowner, and invested in several businesses, including lumber, cotton and corn crops, and buying and selling land in Mississippi and North Carolina. McNeill also wrote about family matters, settlers enacting vigilante justice against Mexicans in San Antonio, Tex., and the futility of the Civil War.


Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers (5643)

Guilford Mortimer Mooring (1847-1916) was a farmer and politician in Pitt County, N.C. The Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers consist chiefly of land indentures, deeds, and grants; personal receipts; and receipts relating to Mooring’s work as sheriff of Pitt County, N.C. Also of note are an 1862 promissory note pledging payment to Temperance Congleton for keeping a group of enslaved children and an 1867 indenture for Alexander Brown, a six-year-old orphan.


Knox Family Papers (5553)

The Knox family is from Rowan County, N.C., where they have lived since the 1740s. The Knox Family Papers contain business and legal receipts for the Knox family through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but also includes account books, indentures, intestate succession documents, slave lists, and receipts for blacksmithing, ministerial services, and other everyday purchases.


Ellen Whitehurst Papers (5634)

Ellen Cook Whitehurst was born in 1856 in Elizabeth City, N.C., to Nancy Cook, an enslaved woman, and an unknown father. The collection includes a letter, circa 1930, from Ellen Cook Whitehurst of New York to William White Griffin of Kinston, N.C., a cousin through their common Cook family line. The letter is a twenty-page manuscript written as reminiscences of Whitehurst’s life and family history.

Experiencing War

Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence (5650)

Jesse I. Ledbetter (1922-2015), of Buncombe County, N.C., served as a U.S. Army Air Corps B-24 bomber pilot with the 485th Bomber Group, 831st Bomb Squadron in Venosa, Italy during World War II. The Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence documents a 26 July 1944 bombing mission to Vienna, Austria.


John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books (5651)

John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher were students at the University of North Carolina during the Civil War. The John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books contain autographs, biographical information, quotes, and personal notes to the brothers from University of North Carolina students of the classes of 1859 through 1865.


Isaac O. Shelby Diaries and Photographs (5674)

The collection contains two diaries kept by Union solider Isaac O. Shelby while he served in the 25th Iowa Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and three carte des visites portraits of him. Diary entries describe his regiment’s involvement in the siege of Vicksburg; the Battle of Chattanooga; the siege of Atlanta; the Battle of Bentonville, and the surrender at Bennett Place.

Posted in Activism, African American, Civil Rights, civil war, Collections, Education, Family, Journalism, Labor, New Collections, Personal archives, Politics, Race Relations, slavery, Southern Culture, University of North Carolina, War, Women | Comments Off on New Collections: Activists, Educators, Families, and War

New Research Guide on the UNC Confederate Monument (Silent Sam)

A Guide to Resources About UNC's Confederate Monument

A Guide to Resources About UNC’s Confederate Monumen

The Confederate Monument on the UNC campus, known commonly as Silent Sam, has stood on McCorkle Place for more than 100 years. For at least the past half-century, it has been a source of controversy. In response to continued interest about the origins, purpose, and reactions to Silent Sam, the University Archives has prepared a detailed guide to assist researchers seeking archival materials related to the monument.

The largest section of the guide is the Archival Resources section. In this section, we provide links to hundreds of digitized documents related to the planning, construction, and dedication of the monument. The guide also includes links to related archival and manuscript collections available for use in Wilson Library.

In addition to the list of resources, the website contains a timeline of major events related to Silent Sam, from the first mention of an on-campus monument in 1908 to student protests in 2015.

The necessity and meaning of the Confederate Monument at UNC has been debated at least since 1965. For as long as it remains in its prominent location on campus, it is likely to continue being a source of discussion among students and community members. Our intention in building this website is to help inform these discussions by making it easier than ever to find, read, and reference primary sources from the University Archives.

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Be Inspired With Carolina’s Nobel Laureates

Nobel_featureNobel_featureJoin Chancellor Carol Folt and Carolina's two Nobel Laureates for a special event in Davis Library on April 13. Continue reading
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