Recent Acquisition: The Russell Link Scrapbook

Last month, University Archives received a fascinating scrapbook from donor John Sneden. The scrapbook, compiled by Russell Link, then a UNC student, contains photographs, clippings, and ephemera related to theatrical productions by the Carolina Playmakers and other groups on campus in the late 1950s.

Take a look at pages from the scrapbook in the gallery below.

[Pages from the Russell Charles Link Scrapbook, University Archives]

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From the Archives: Anti-War Rally at UNC, 1936.

Anti-war rally at Memorial Hall, ca. 1936. P004.

Anti-war rally at Memorial Hall, ca. 1936. P004.

I ran across this photograph in the UNC-Chapel Hill Image Collection and was surprised to see an anti-war protest not from the mid 1960s, when college students across the country demonstrated against the Vietnam war, but from three decades earlier. The photograph is in a folder labeled “Anti-War Activities, World War II, Late 1930s.”

Memories of World War I were still fresh in the minds of many Americans when tensions were beginning to escalate in Europe in the 1930s, building toward the conflicts that would lead to World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor was still several years away and some college students were wary of the idea of getting involved in another European war. At UNC, students formed local chapters of two national anti-war organizations: the American Student Union, a left-wing organization associated with the Communist and Socialist parties, and the Veterans of Future Wars, a satirical group asking for compensation for future military service.

The photo shown here is probably from a rally held on campus on April 22, 1936. It was described as a “strike,” with classes cancelled for about an hour. The rally started at South Building and continued to Memorial Hall for speeches. The description in the Daily Tar Heel said, “Placards and tableaux expressing antipathy to war will make their appearance at the anti-war strike.”

The featured speaker at the rally was Dick Whitten, president of Commonwealth College in Arkansas, who descried “capitalistic imperialism” as the driving force behind war. An estimated 700 students and local residents attended.

Posted in University Archives, University History | 2 Comments

Barack Obama’s 1994 Visit to Chapel Hill

In 1994, the Sonja Hayes Stone Black Cultural Center sponsored a three-day program for leaders of African American student groups at UNC. The Black Student Leadership Summit included sessions on leadership and community outreach and gave students opportunities to discuss issues and ideas. The event kicked off on the evening of September 2, 1994, with an opening reception and dinner followed by a featured speaker from out of town: Barack Obama.

Program for the 1994 Black Student Leadership Summit. Stone Center Records (40341), University Archives.

Program for the 1994 Black Student Leadership Summit. Stone Center Records (40341), University Archives.

The future president had received nationwide attention when he was elected as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was working as a Civil Rights lawyer in Chicago at the time of his visit to Chapel Hill.

Obama, whose first name was misspelled as “Barak” in the conference program, was listed as a “motivational speaker.” Unfortunately, there is little record of his speech or his visit. The booking was arranged through an agency, so there is no correspondence with Obama. The file did not include any photographs and the conference was not covered in the Daily Tar Heel.

Excerpt from an invitation to the Black Student Leadership Summit. Stone Center Records (40341), University Archives.

Excerpt from an invitation to the Black Student Leadership Summit. Stone Center Records (40341), University Archives.

The conference was held at the Aqueduct Conference Center south of Chapel Hill, so it’s likely Obama never even made it to campus. About all we can tell from the records is that the the visit was short: notes on travel arrangements showed that he arrived the afternoon of the 2nd, spent the night at the Omni Europa, and then flew back on the morning of the 3rd. Obama received a $1,500 honorarium for his talk.  A handwritten note in the file said that he was travelling with his wife, so it appears that future First Lady Michelle Obama was here as well.

Excerpt from evaluations of the Black Student Leadership Summit. Stone Center Records (40341), University Archives.

Excerpt from evaluations of the Black Student Leadership Summit. Stone Center Records (40341), University Archives.

While we don’t know what Obama said, we do know that his speech was well received. With approval ratings that President Obama (or any politician) would envy, 21 out of 22 people responding to a post-conference survey said that they enjoyed Obama’s talk. Attendees said that they “Liked his views and thoughts about values and picking our battles,” and “liked the fact that he was a very successful Black man fighting for the betterment of Black people.” One respondent called him “inspirational.” Another said, “He was a little long.”

The records of the 1994 Black Student Leadership Summit are in the records of the Sonja Hayes Stone Center for Black Culture and History in the University Archives.

Posted in From the Archives, University Archives, University History | Leave a comment

Stone Center Records Now Available for Research

I am very pleased to share news about a recent addition to the University Archives: the records of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

These records, covering the years 1984-2013, contain materials tracing the history of the Center, from the first discussions and proposal in 1984, through the student protests in support of the Center in the early 1990s, to the opening of the free-standing Center in 2004 and its emergence as a vital part of the academic and cultural life at UNC.

The Stone Center records are open and available for research in Wilson Library.

Posted in New and Noteworthy, University Archives | Leave a comment

Alcoholic Beverage Policy Debate: 1966-1971

In 1966, the City of Chapel Hill passed an ordinance (further amended in 1967) which stated, “it shall be unlawful for any person to consume or display beer, wine, whiskey or other alcoholic beverage in or on a street or sidewalk in Chapel Hill.”

This ordinance prompted the University to reconsider its own policies concerning alcohol. Administrators were especially concerned that alcohol would no longer be permitted during sporting events on campus. The Attorney General for North Carolina at the time, Thomas Wade Burton,  stated that the ordinance could only limit the public drinking of beverages containing more that 14% of alcohol by volume, meaning that beer and wine were legally allowed to be consumed during sporting events.

For most of its history, the University relied on state and local laws to determine how alcohol was regulated on campus. However, the University was concerned that the new legislation was too broad in reference to where alcohol could be consumed. Dorm rooms were considered to be private residences, meaning that students over the age of twenty-one could legally store and consume beverages with more than 14% alcohol by volume in their dorm rooms. Students eighteen or older could consume beer, wine and other beverages containing less that 14% alcohol by volume anywhere on campus. This 14% rule caused the most problems for campus officials.

 “Letter from a concerned parent to Chancellor Sitterson (from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972, #40022, University Archives).”

Letter from a concerned parent to Chancellor Sitterson, from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972, #40022, University Archives.

From 1966 to 1971 as laws changed and public debate continued. The University slowly tightened its own regulations over the consumption of alcohol. The Board of Trustees determined that it could no longer solely rely on state and local laws to regulate where students had access to and were allowed to consume alcoholic beverages. One of the main driving forces for the further restriction of alcohol on campus was pressure from the parents of students and alumni. They wanted no alcohol, regardless of strength, in residences. They also wished to further restrict what was allowed to be consumed during sporting events.

 “Part of the new alcoholic beverages policy (from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972, #40022, University Archives).”

Part of the new alcoholic beverages policy from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972, #40022, University Archives.

In 1971, a system-wide alcohol policy was instituted. It was not as restrictive as many parents were asking for, but it did close loopholes in the state laws concerning the 14% rule. The new policies, in being more restrictive than state law, also gave first right of discipline to the University. Thus a student who violated university rules would not also be in jeopardy of having to face punitive action from the state, unless the student also broke state laws. The new university policy followed state regulations for alcohol under 14% by volume. Over this limit, the Chancellor had complete discretion on where and when such alcohol could be consumed and it was not allowed in dorm rooms.

 

 

 “Part of the new alcoholic beverages policy (from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972, #40022, University Archives).”

Part of the new alcoholic beverages policy, from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972, #40022, University Archives.

 

Similar discussions were taking place on other state university campuses during this period. In the lessening of restrictions on alcohol consumption other policies were being examined. In Georgia, female students over twenty-one, or sophomores and juniors with their parents’ permission, no longer had to obey a curfew. The policy that lifted this curfew also allowed women over twenty-one to drink off campus without facing a penalty from the University.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Cake Race at UNC

Cake Race, 1924. UNC Image Collection (P004)

Cake Race, October 1924. UNC Image Collection (P004)

I ran across this photo in the Wilson Library stacks the other day. It was labeled “Cake Race, October 1924.” No further information was given, suggesting that none was needed, that everybody should know what a cake race is.

Daily Tar Heel, 2 November 1923.

Daily Tar Heel, 2 November 1923.

A little research revealed that the students lined up in the 1924 photo were doing exactly what the caption said: racing for cakes. The annual race began in the 1920s as an intramural event held in the fall. Students ran a cross country race covering one and a half to two miles with the winners in each of several divisions receiving cakes. In some years, students competed in teams, with prizes for the dorms that had the most students participating.

The Cake Race was popular at UNC in the 1920s and 1930s, but was discontinued in 1938. The race was revived 20 years later, in 1958, and was run annually through the 1960s. After that there were only brief references to the race in the DTH in 1980 and 1981, and nothing after.

The practice of racing for cakes was not unique to UNC. I found references to cake races at Georgia Tech (as early as 1911), Auburn, and Davidson College, which still holds an annual freshmen cake race.

If you know more about the cake race at UNC, or why college students began racing for cakes in the first place, please let us know in the comments.

Cake Race winners, 1962. UNC Photo Lab collection (P0031).

Cake Race winners, 1962. UNC Photo Lab collection (P0031).

Posted in University Archives, University History | Leave a comment

Coming Soon: A New Look for The Carolina Story

The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of UNC History was first published nearly 10 years ago, on University Day, 2006. The website was created to provide an accurate and comprehensive guide to UNC history. While ten years is a short period in the long history of the university, it is a pretty long time for a website. As it approaches its tenth anniversary, The Carolina Story is getting an upgrade.

The UNC University Library, which hosts the website, is actively working to migrate the website contents to new technology to ensure that it can be easily updated and maintained long into the future (for those curious about the tools involved, it’s moving from a custom-built Django platform to Omeka). Not only will this make the back end of the website easier to maintain, it will enable us to update and expand the site’s entries and features.

The technology upgrade will bring a new look to the Carolina Story. While the front page will be different, all of the content will remain the same, at least for now. The Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History is currently evaluating all of the ways that the university represents its history, including The Carolina Story. We will work closely with the task force and others to ensure that The Carolina Story remains an honest, authoritative, and helpful resource for anyone interested in UNC history.

Posted in University History | Leave a comment

“The Planet Mars – Is It Inhabited?”: A. H. Patterson’s 1902 Speech

In researching Professor Andrew Henry Patterson for my last blog post, I came across an interesting document among his personal papers. In 1902, while still a professor at the University of Georgia, Patterson delivered a speech at the centennial assembly of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, N.C. titled “The Planet Mars – Is It Inhabited?” Following this address, the speech was supposed to be stored in a sealed envelope in the Salem Academy archive and reopened in 2002 “to  compare theories in 1902 with those 100 years later.” However, attempts to find the speech at the Salem Academy archives in 1964 were unsuccessful. The speech now held by UNC is a copy of a draft of the original, acquired from Andrew Patterson’s son Dr. Howard Patterson.

It is now fourteen years after Patterson had intended the speech to be reopened, and our knowledge of the planet Mars far surpasses what was theorized in 1902. The most compelling evidence for life on Mars discussed in the speech was the existence of canals on the Martian surface, first observed by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877. Patterson devotes a great deal of his speech to corroborating the existence of these canals by citing other astronomers, concluding that “On the whole, I believe we may consider the existence of the so-called ‘canals’  as proved by most careful and reliable observers in many parts of the world.” Patterson proposes the theory that these canals are artificially created for irrigation. Astronomers of the period also observed that the polar caps of Mars appeared and disappeared according to the Martian season, theorizing that these could be sources of water for the vast irrigation networks. Patterson even imagines just how differently life might have evolved on Mars, stating “what manner of beings thet [sic] may be we lack the data even to conceive.” In his conclusion, Patterson stated his belief “that Mars seems to be inhabited is not the last but the first word on the subject.”

Despite the wide gap in astronomical knowledge between 1902 and today, the accuracy of some theories is impressive. With regards to the difficulty many astronomers had in observing Schiaparelli’s canals, Patterson cites a Dr. Fison, who argues “that these canals have not been seen at the Naval Observatory, Harvard Observatory, Yerkes Observatory and others having far better telescopes than those used by Schiaparelli, who had an 8 1/3-inch glass, and by Lowell, who had a 24-inch, and therefore the canals must be optical illusions.” Fison was ultimately correct about the canals being optical illusions. Patterson also quotes Fison accurately describing the surface of Mars as “a succession of bleak arid deserts over which the rays of the vertical sun would seem to struggle in vain to mitigate the blasting chill of attenuated air.” However, Fison then went on to suppose the existence of “elementary forms of vegetation capable of withstanding the rigors of a climate more than artic [sic] in character.” Patterson addresses the question of polar ice caps by citing scientists who believed “the snow caps to be composed of solid Carbon Dioxide, instead of water. . . . the spectroscope shows no trace, or at least very little, of water vapor on Mars.” We now know that the polar caps are composed of both frozen carbon dioxide as well as water-ice.

114 years after Andrew Patterson delivered his speech on Mars, it is now possible to view the surface of Mars in 360 degrees through a web browser. Using virtual reality technology, it is even possible to see what it would be like to stand on the “bleak arid deserts” of Mars from a first-person perspective.

Posted in Faculty Papers, From the Archives, Uncategorized, University Archives | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in From the Archives, University Archives, University History | Leave a comment

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).

buc2

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.

Posted in Uncategorized, University Archives, University History | Leave a comment