Collections and Resources, Events, Exhibits, North Carolina Collection, UNC History

Exhibit Honors Carolina’s Trees

Noble Trees, Traveled Paths: The Carolina Landscape Since 1793
On exhibit Feb. 15 – May 31, 2010
North Carolina Collection Gallery
Wilson Special Collections Library
Information: (919) 962-0104 or nccref@unc.edu
Free and open to the public

UNC’s trees are the subject of a new exhibit in Wilson Library that guides visitors across campus and back through time.

Noble Trees, Traveled Paths: The Carolina Landscape Since 1793 will be on view in the North Carolina Collection Gallery of the Wilson Special Collections Library through May 31. The exhibit presents photographs, drawings, and publications that document campus trees and landscapes from the University’s earliest days through the present.

Carolina Trees lecture, walking tour Dr. Michael Dirr, author of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Noble Grove: A Walking Tour of Campus Trees and professor emeritus of horticulture at the University of Georgia, will deliver the 2010 Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture for the North Carolina Collection.

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wilson Library
3:30 p.m. Walking tour (leave from steps of Wilson Library)
5 p.m. Reception and exhibit viewing
5:45 p.m. Program

For program information, contact Liza Terll, Friends of the Library, at (919) 962-4207 or liza_terll@unc.edu.

Those associated with Carolina at its founding recognized the beauty of the campus and its trees. In 1805, just a decade after UNC opened its doors, the Board of Trustees first proposed hiring someone to “trim the trees in the grove… in a proper and judicious manner.”

A facsimile of those minutes is on view in the exhibit, along with items including reproductions of the following documents:

  • A 1796 description of the campus by UNC’s first president, Joseph Caldwell;
  • An 1824 letter from professor and University Bursar Elisha Mitchell recording his concern over the poor condition of campus trees; and
  • A letter Mitchell wrote to the Trustees in 1849, observing that trees “have a good influence upon the manners of young men.”

Historic drawings and photographs document the development of campus during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, along with the sometimes contentious efforts to preserve trees during campus expansions of the last fifty years. The exhibit notes the work of the 2005 Task Force on Landscape Heritage and Plant Diversity and the ongoing efforts of UNC’s Grounds Services Department.

Inspiration for the exhibit came from the 2009 book The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Noble Grove: A Walking Tour of Campus Trees, by Michael Dirr, professor emeritus of horticulture at the University of Georgia.

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