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Happy 100th birthday to the National Park Service (NPS)!

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act establishing the NPS as an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior to coordinate administration of the then 37 national parks and monuments. Today the NPS oversees 412 parks, monuments, and other conservation and historic properties.

In 1926, 10 years after establishment of the NPS, creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was authorized. Covering 522,427 acres, almost evenly divided between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, the park is today the most visited of the 59 national parks, attracting over 9 million visitors annually. More than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants can be found along its more than 800 miles of tended trails.

Here are a few postcards from the North Carolina Collection’s postcards collection showing the beauty and wonder of this special place:

A_View_Near_Crestmont_in_the_Great_Smoky_Mountain_National_Park_area

Black_Bear_Great_Smoky_Mts_Natl_Park

Lake_Santeetlah_Near_End_of_Great_Smoky_Mountains_National_Park

Mount_Sterling_from_Cove_Creek_Gap_at_Sunset_Great_Smoky_Mountains_National_Park

In 1916, Mount Mitchell became North Carolina’s first state park. This year, the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources celebrates the centennial of the state park system, which now encompasses dozens of parks and recreation areas.

Centennial events have been happening at parks across the state throughout the year. The signature centennial event will be held this Saturday at Mount Mitchell State Park — and the North Carolina Collection will be there!

We’ll host a special display dedicated to the mountain’s namesake, Elisha Mitchell, showcasing Mitchell’s pocket watch.

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For more on the significance of the pocket watch in Mitchell’s life and death, read our June Artifact of the Month post.

We’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone in our state’s history. If you’ll be nearby, we’d love to see you there!

“EDENTON — About 40 young women came out to Swain Auditorium in response to an open casting call to portray on camera Edenton-born  Harriet Jacobs.

“Stacey Harkless, the film’s producer, said she would love to see a three-night miniseries.

“Much of the story [will be filmed] in Edenton, because the town is an important part of the story, and it would be expensive  to recreate its locations elsewhere.

“Harkless said the film will focus on the role faith plays in Jacobs’ story and will not include graphic depictions of violence or sex.

“Harkless said she read ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl’ and was struck by its emotional power. It was difficult to believe, she said, that the book had not already been adapted as a movie. [It does have a history as a stage production.]

“Harkless stressed that the film was not envisioned as a ‘whip and chains epic’: ‘It’s a Horatio Alger story It started in slavery, but it ended with her becoming one of the most incredible people on the planet.’”

— From “Casting call busy for movie on Jacobs” by Reggie Ponder at the Chowan Herald (Aug. 21)

 

As more than 29,000 students return to Carolina’s campus, we welcome them back with our August Artifacts of the Month, a menu board and stool from the Daily Grind Café. The Daily Grind served coffee in a small, lively space adjacent to UNC’s Student Stores for more than twenty-two years. When news broke at the end of last school year that the Café would close in the summer of 2016, students, faculty, and staff mourned the loss of a campus institution.

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These items serve as a reminder of just how fun and innovative The Daily Grind was. For over two decades, the cafe provided students with freshly brewed, locally roasted coffee in a multitude of ways — like their Crème Brulee and Snickerdoodle “Magical Mochas,” as seen on this menu board.

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One-of-a-kind painted stools like this one offered the perfect perch for employees of the one-of-a-kind café, where students met up with friends, chatted with professors, or just took a break as they looked out into the Pit.

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After Barnes and Noble assumed management of the Student Stores, the Daily Grind Café moved out of its location at the heart of campus. Yet students should have no fear! The Friends Café at the Health Sciences Library still serves the same “mean beans” as its sister café, with an extensive espresso drink list and fresh treats served every weekday.

The North Carolina Collection Gallery is honored to preserve these and other Daily Grind artifacts as a reminder of a beloved campus café. Getting coffee at the Daily Grind was more than a quick break — it was a UNC tradition.

For more Carolina traditions, both old and new, visit the exhibit Classic Carolina: Traditions Then and Now in the Gallery. The exhibit, dedicated to all of our new Tar Heels, shares Carolina food, athletic, and dorm traditions from the mid-twentieth century.

“The founders who crafted the original state governments… thought it was a good idea for ministers to stay out of politics.

“The state constitutions of North Carolina (1776), New York (1777), Georgia (1777), South Carolina (1778), Delaware (1792),Tennessee (1796), Maryland (1799), and Kentucky (1799) all banned clergymen from running for office.

“The 1776 North Carolina Constitution states that ‘no clergyman, or preacher of the gospel of any denomination, shall be capable of being a member of either the Senate, House of Commons, or Council of State, while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral function.’ ”

— From “Why the Founding Fathers wanted to keep ministers from public office” by John Fea at Religion News Service (Aug. 15)

 

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There may be a month left to go this solar summer, but the summer travel season will be wrapping up between now and Labor Day.  For those whose oceanside vacation still awaits, you will probably notice that the beach fashion scene has changed a wee bit in the past 110 years!  I doubt any records would have been broken at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with athletes wearing these anti-hydrodynamical outfits.

On this day in 1943: Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” destined to become one of the best-selling novels of all time, hits bookstore shelves across the state.

The author is a former Brooklyn telephone operator who arrived in Chapel Hill on a bus with her two young daughters in 1938. She came only to study play writing at the university but makes Chapel Hill her home.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” a warm, coming-of-age story set in a city slum, was rejected by 12 publishing houses before being accepted by Harper and Bros. It will also be made into a movie and a Broadway play.

Although she will die in a Connecticut convalescent home in 1972, Betty Smith returns to be buried in the Chapel Hill Cemetery.

[Betty Smith, inventor of the “beat cop”?]

 

“A large ‘possum occupied an exalted position on one of the wagons [in the parade celebrating President Taft’s 1909 visit to Charlotte], and the President laughed outright when he witnessed in the raw the meat that made his Georgia trip some months ago memorable.

“This was merely a forerunner, however, to the ‘Possum Club [float], which contained a number of ‘possums up in a huge limb and a number of hounds furiously barking after them. …. The Chief Executive continued to laugh as the float moved into the distance. It had impressed him mightily.”

— From a souvenir booklet commemorating Taft’s visit [souvenir postcard here]

In 1909, of course, controversy had not yet attached to the use of possums for entertainment purposes.

 

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Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective opened this past Saturday at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The Museum of History is the sixth venue for the exhibition since its debut in August 2013 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone.  The Morton photographs will be at the museum for more than a year!  Admission is free.  If you are looking for ways to beat the triple-digit heat index temperatures we’ve been experiencing in the eastern part of the state in recent days, a visit to Museum of History may be just the ticket.  The exhibition looks terrific!  The museum’s staff designed the exhibition to flow chronologically and several images sport new descriptive labels, so if you’ve seen the exhibition once before it is worth seeing it again.

There will be several programs at the museum related to the exhibition in the coming months, including “Hugh Morton, More Than Bridges and Bears” with Hugh Morton’s grandson Jack Morton and the exhibition’s curator Stephen J. Fletcher, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archivist, on December 8, 2016, 5:30-8:00 pm.

“So overeager were mothers toward their sick children that in 1844 the Raleigh Star complained that the results were counterproductive. Maternal fussiness was a reason why, the editor asserted, one-fifth of North Carolina infants died before reaching a year of age. They are ‘over-fed, over-clothed, take too little exercise in the air.’

“Swaddling was not common, so far as we know, but obviously the mothers of whom the writer spoke were killing their young with kindness and restricting their movements in some way.”

– From “Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South” by Bertram Wyatt-Brown (2007)

 

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