Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Our September Artifact of the Month is a hand-embroidered pillowcase — a memento made for a UNC graduate by his bride-to-be.


This pillowcase was embroidered by Georgia Haskett for her fiance George Washington Rhodes when he graduated from UNC in 1911. During his time as a student, he was a member of the Philanthropic Debating Society. Rhodes must have been known for his love of books as he was described in the yearbook as “One of those antiquarian monks who thinks that a college is a place to learn things.” Soon after graduating, Rhodes became a teacher.

yearbook photo

Haskett embroidered ninety-nine names — presumably the names of UNC graduates — in maroon-colored thread on the pillowcase. Some of the names have a cross embroidered next to them.

pillowcase close-up

The center depicts a symbol with “UNC” embroidered in white thread. The pillowcase originally had fringe on the edge, which has fallen off with age.

The significance of the symbol in the center and the crosses remains a mystery.

The pillowcase can be viewed in our digital collection Carolina Keepsakes, a compendium of treasured artifacts related to life at UNC.

Rhodes’ daughter Eleanor Sullivan donated this pillowcase to the North Carolina Collection Gallery in July. The NCC Gallery is pleased to be the second recipient of this gift, more than one hundred years after it was given to its first recipient.

“Even if they cook over wood [rather than gas], some new places’ inclusion of ribs (not traditional in old-line barbecue joints) and brisket (from Texas, whose barbecue North Carolinians profess to despise) has created what [John Shelton] Reed dubs the International House of Barbecue. Even if they cook over wood, will new places serve a generic version of mediocre barbecue?

“Some North Carolinians also rue barbecue’s gentrification, which in some cases has turned it from a working man’s food to a pricey night out. Disappearing are the mom-and-pop places, where prices are cheap and the patrons reflect the breadth of a town’s population.

“If traditional barbecue dies, part of North Carolina dies with it….”

— From “Why North Carolina’s barbecue scene is still smoldering” by Jim Shahin in the Washington Post (Sept. 21)


“You’d think it’d be a simple thing to identify the world’s largest frying pan, but there are six in the United States alone that make that audacious claim….

“Located in southeastern North Carolina, Rose Hill is a hamlet of 1,330 people [that] claims to possess the World’s Largest Frying Pan. It is actually a working appliance, used several times a year to fry chicken for festivals. According to Roadside America, the thing also smells bad when you approach it, like rancid grease. It holds 200 gallons of cooking oil, uses 40 gas burners, and can hold 365 chickens at one time….”

— From “The World’s Largest Frying Pan — Er, Six of Them” b

Although reviews at Roadside America are decidedly mixed, I doubt you’ll hear many complaints from regulars at the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee (Oct. 2-3).


On this day in 1933: University of North Carolina freshman Walker Percy flunks the English placement test.

“I had just finished reading Faulkner’s ‘The Sound and the Fury,’ ” Percy will recall half a century later, “and I wrote my placement theme in a Faulknerian style — no capitalization, no punctuation. They put me in the retarded English class, and the professor really thought I was hot stuff. Compared to the rest of the dummies, I guess I was.”

Percy will graduate from Chapel Hill and from Columbia University medical school, but he becomes best known for writing such novels as “The Moviegoer,” “The Last Gentleman” and “Love in the Ruins.”


On this day in 1933: “En route from Havana to New York, the luxury passenger ship Morro Castle was stranded off Cape Hatteras in a hurricane. The entire orchestra was seasick and the ship’s 140 passengers gathered in the lounge because of water in some cabins.

“Twenty-two-year-old Gwendolyn Taylor of Philadelphia distracted the crowd with piano playing and singing. ‘I thought I ought to do something,’ she later recounted, ‘and the only thing I could do was play. So I played. I sang, too; only cheerful things. I think some of the women wanted to hear hymns, but I thought they needed jazz more.’ ”

— From “On This Day in Outer Banks History” by Sarah Downing (2014)

Being stranded overnight off Hatteras was far from the worst misfortune the Morro Castle would encounter.


“On a warm January day in 1903, the most famous and influential black leader in America came to San Diego.

“Booker T. Washington created such a stir that roughly 15 percent of the city’s population showed up to hear him speak on ‘The Negro Problem.’

“Washington’s visit is a little-known episode in the city’s halting march forward on civil rights, and now it has a fascinating footnote, a bit of cross-country serendipity involving an autographed first-edition book, a library sale and a retired law enforcement administrator with a keen eye for what things are and where they belong.

“The book is ‘Character Building,’ a 1902 collection of speeches by Washington. He signed it and gave it to his host in San Diego, George Marston, the city’s most prominent merchant, who in turn cherished it enough to put one of his personal bookplates on the inside of the front cover.

“And then, somehow, it wound up in North Carolina 112 years later….”

— From “Book bought in North Carolina comes home to San Diego” by John Wilkens in the San Diego Union-Tribune (Sept. 5)

It was High Point Public Library volunteer Bill Phillips who spotted the book, paid $2 for it and donated it to the San Diego History Center. But Phillips has not a clue to its puzzling past: “I hope some unsuspecting person will come forward and say, ‘Oh, that was in a batch of books I left there.’ “

Might any Miscellany readers know (or want to speculate) how “Character Building” made its way from San Diego to High Point?


“Statewide, [liquor] drinking habits follow patterns, sometimes unexpected ones. Rural counties like Bertie, Greene and Hertford have an outsized appetite for gin, while Dare, Currituck, Onslow and other coastal counties imbibe rum at an accelerated rate….

“Tennessee whiskey sells better closer to North Carolina’s western boundary….  Wake, Durham and Orange counties all are significantly ahead of the state average in rye sales, peaking at 463 percent above the norm in Orange County.

“ ‘Rye is a hot new trend right now, for sure. Most of my business is on the south side in Chapel Hill,’ said Barry Roberts, buyer and warehouse manager for Orange County’s ABC board. ‘Rittenhouse Rye is particularly hard to find. I order it 50 cases at a time when I can get it.’ ”

— From “What We Drink in North Carolina,” an entertaining data dive in the Wilmington Star-News (Sept. 6)

Not so beloved: Elvis Presley Coconut Water Vodka

(Hat tip: John L. Robinson)


“On a 1926 lecture tour, Lucia Ames Mead — the 70-year-old grande dame of peace activism — was ambushed in North Carolina by anti-radicals led by Margaret Overman Gregory, daughter of Senator Lee Overman, who had conducted the famous hearings in 1919 to expose the alleged crimes of Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution….

“Gregory, state DAR regent, warned that North Carolina was ‘the target of the most desperate efforts of the Soviet propagandists seeking the overthrow of the American government and planning for a Red Russian invasion of the South.’

“Gregory and her followers attended Mead’s appearances en masse and prevented her from delivering addresses in Charlotte and Salisbury….”

— From Battling Miss Bolsheviki: The Origins of Female Conservatism in the United States” by Kirsten Marie Delegard (2012)


“A professor of history at the university in Chapel Hill believes [Tar Heel] should be two words….and he has been campaigning quietly to get the matter corrected and standardized….

William Powell has petitioned Merriam-Webster… whose definition in Webster’s Third Unabridged Dictionary reads: ‘tarheel, also tarheeler: from Tarheel State, nickname for North Carolina; a North Carolinian — a nickname.’

Frederick Mish, joint editorial director for Merriam-Webster, says the spelling as one word is not likely to change for a while.

” ‘We have to weigh evidence from North Carolina as well as evidence from other places. There has to be a clear-cut preponderance one way or another as to spelling….'”

— From “Tarheel or Tar Heel?” by the Associated Press in the Wilmington Star-News (Dec. 11, 1977)

However long it took Merriam-Webster to find its requisite “clear-cut preponderance,” today the online Unabridged refers to “Tar Heel or Tarheel also Tarheeler.”

“Tarheeler”? A topic for another day….


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »