Delivering the Bicentennial: Postal Commemorations of UNC’s 200th

From fall 1993 to spring 1994, the University celebrated its bicentennial with a year of special events. One way the University commemorated its 200th anniversary was through the Bicentennial Postal Series. The first item in the series was a post card issued by the U.S. Postal Service, featuring a watercolor of Playmakers’ Theatre by Bob Timberlake. Five postal cachets—commemorative printed designs on envelopes bearing a custom UNC Bicentennial cancellation and postmark—followed. Click on the thumbnails in the gallery below to view the card and cachets in full.

Post card and cachets from University Relations: Bicentennial Observance Office Records (#40135), University Archives.

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Recent and Upcoming Conferences

There have been two recent conferences in our area recently, and another is coming soon.  The annual Librarians’ Association of UNC (LAUNC-CH) conference took place Monday, March 10th at the Friday Center.  If you missed out on the conference, you can take a look at the live tweets here. Ann Cooper, one of UARMS’ graduate assistants,  presented on a project to preserve legacy born-digital media such as floppy and optical disks at the LAUNC-CH conference.

LAUNC-CH will also be holding a Research Forum on May 8th from 1-4 in Wilson Library.  The research forum will have a poster session along with sessions on instruction and outreach and on collections and access. Morgan Jones, a Carolina Academic Libraries Associate working in UARMS, will be presenting a poster on her research on collaborations within archives and special collections at the Forum.

The Society of North Carolina Archivists also just had its 2014 Annual Conference on April 8th in Raleigh.  This year’s theme was “Connect, Create, and Celebrate: Archives in the 21st Century.”  You can follow SNCA on Twitter at @NCArchivists.

Have we left out any conferences?  Let us know in the comments!


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Farewell to Records Services Archivist, Lawrence Giffin

Today are hearts are heavy as we bid adieu to Records Services Archivist extraordinaire, the one-and-only, Lawrence Giffin.

Lawrence joined UARMS staff in 2011 and for the past two and a half years has led the records management services program at UNC. He has offered countless consultations and trainings to staff across campus, prepared updates for our general records retention and disposition schedule, and managed the records transfer process– not to mention all of the countless other projects in UARMS and the Wilson Special Collections Library that he has contributed to.

Thank you, Lawrence for all of your hard work here at UARMS. You’ll be a tough act to follow, and we’re really going to miss you.

Please continue to send records transfer forms, administrative reference requests, and general records management inquiries and questions to our UARMS email address–

You can also call us at (919) 962-6402 for immediate assistance.

We’re all sad to see Lawrence go but wish him all the best in his future endeavors!


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A Sudden Ending and a New Beginning: The Assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Birth of UNC’s Black Student Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, AL on April 30th, 1966.  From the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, AL on April 30th, 1966. From the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  As the nation reeled in shock, UNC-Chapel Hill also reacted to the vicious ending of a life dedicated to the non-violent pursuit of Civil Rights.

UNC-Chapel Hill officials held a memorial service attended by over 2,000 people, but the Black Student Movement (BSM) staged its own remembrances of Dr. King. On April 6th, members of the BSM marched down Franklin Street and burned several Confederate flags on the lawn of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity house.  At the time, Kappa Alpha was supportive of the Old South and the Confederacy.

In addition to holding a separate memorial service for Dr. King, the BSM also called on the campus’ African American workers to not attend work on April 9th.  Although Chancellor Sitterson had announced a half-day for campus workers on April 7th, Preston Dobbins (the president of the BSM) encouraged the day of remembrance because he felt that the University had not responded to Dr. King’s assassination with the appropriate amount of respect. Ninety percent of the African American workers on campus stayed home from work that day.

The Constitution of the Black Student Movement from folder 25, box 3, of the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Constitution of the Black Student Movement from folder 25, box 3, of the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The BSM may be most remembered for the 23 demands of December 1968, but the students’ collaboration with the campus workers in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination was an important first step in the relationship between the two groups. Over the years, students of the BSM have supported UNC-Chapel Hill’s non-academic workers such as groundskeepers, food workers, and housekeepers.

Today, we at University Archives remember the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the birth of the Black Student Movement on our campus.  Although the group began in such dark times, we commend them for forging relationships on our campus and moving forward.

Visit The Carolina Story, UNC’s virtual history museum, for more information on the Black Student Movement.

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“I don’t know what he means unless it was the bell ringing or the fireball.”

John Stronach's letter to his father, responding to President Battle's accusations of bad behavior.

John Stronach’s letter to his father, responding to President Battle’s accusations of bad behavior. (University of North Carolina Papers #40005, University Archives)

If you’re looking for someone to help you plan an April Fool’s Day prank, look no further than John B. Stronach, class of 1893. President of the Eating Club (“Record, 31 bananas in 13 ¾ minutes,” according to the 1890 Hellenian), and member of both the “Gunning Club” and “Whist Club,” the Raleigh native seems to have had a knack for getting into trouble.  

In February, 1890, UNC President Kemp Battle wrote to John Stronach’s father, W.C. Stronach, concerned about the young student’s behavior. His shocked and dismayed father responded immediately to President Battle, enclosing his son’s own version of events (transcribed in full below).

March 2, 1890
Dear Father,

I am very sorry indeed that Dr. Battle had to write to you about me, but think he has it a little larger than it was. I will tell you just how it is and what I did. You remember when I told you about my shooting the gun, ever since then every thing that is done he calls me up. Once again, I was beating on a tin tub in my room and Prof. Cain came in and asked me to stop. Those two times are the only ones that I have been caught and about the only times I have done anything again. The night some boys wrung [sic] the bell,  I was in my room and did not even go out again. He had me up. Thursday night a crowd of boys wrung [sic] the bell and made a ball of fire and went around to scare the boys by turning it around before the windows and crying fire. I was down town in Lee Woodard’s room when they made the ball. I came up in a little while and went around to see the fire but did not touch it. I hollered as everybody else did and this is about all I have done as for the late at night, etc. I don’t know what he means unless it was the bell ringing or the fire ball.

Mike is coming down Thursday or Friday and will come to see you. I am very sorry that I have caused you so much trouble and hope that you will see that it is not as bad as Dr. Battle makes it out. I hope mother will not be very sick and is even now better. Doctor as [sic] been very sick for the last three or four days with his temper but is very much better today.
Give love to every.
Your loveing [sic] son,
Jno. B. Stronach


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Caption Contest Winner!

And we have a winner, folks!  Thank you to everyone who submitted captions for our latest Caption This! contest and to everyone who voted for their favorite.

This round’s winner was Matthew Farrell, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus!  Congrats Matthew!

Ambiguously worded dress codes lead to all sorts of problems...

Ambiguously worded dress codes lead to all sorts of problems…

Stay tuned for our next round of Caption This! in the coming weeks!

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Caption This! Vote For Your Favorite!

Thank you everyone for your submissions to our latest caption contest! We had a ball reading all of the captions! Now it’s time for you to vote for your favorite. We’ll announce the winner next week!

Click on the captioned photographs to view larger images.

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Happy 120th birthday, Paul Green!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so lots of people are wearing green. But at UNC, we’re celebrating another kind of Green—playwright Paul Green, who was born 120 years ago today.


Author  Paul Green (from the UNC Press Records, #40073, University Archives).

Paul Green, born in Lillington, North Carolina, enrolled at UNC in 1916. However, his academic career was interrupted by World War I—he enlisted in 1917 and served overseas before returning to UNC in 1919. During his time at UNC, he was a student of Fredrick Koch, the head of the UNC Department of Dramatic Arts and the founder of the Carolina Playmakers. He graduated in 1922 with a degree in philosophy. The same year, he married a fellow student of Koch, Elizabeth Lay. In 1923, after his graduate studies, Green returned to UNC as a professor of philosophy.

During this time, Green published many acclaimed works, including In Abraham’s Bosom (1929), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The House of Connelly (1931) , Roll Sweet Chariot (1935), and Johnny Johnson (1937), which featured music by Kurt Weill. In 1941, he collaborated with Richard Wright to adapt Wright’s Native Son for the stage. Many of his works addressed themes of racism, and poverty, and war, reflecting his lifelong activism for human rights.


A scene from an early production of the Lost Colony in which Sir Walter Raleigh speaks with Queen Elizabeth I (from the UNC Press Records, #40073, University Archives).

While Green’s work was well-received on New York stages, one of his greatest contributions to American theatre happened far from Broadway. In 1937, he published The Lost Colony, a “symphonic drama” about the ill-fated Roanoke Island Colony to be performed on the island itself, off the coast of North Carolina. The play, first performed in 1937 as part of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of Virginia Dare’s birth, is still running today. Having only suspended production during the years of World War II, it is the longest-running outdoor drama in the country. The Lost Colony established the genre of outdoor drama in the United States, and Green went on to write 14 more plays of this type.

From 1939 to 1944, Green worked as a professor of dramatic arts at UNC, then devoted himself solely to writing. His work includes not only plays but essays, short stories, screenplays, radio dramas, two novels, and music.

In 1968, UNC built the Paul Green Theatre, which is named in his honor.  In 1979, Green was named North Carolina Dramatist Laureate. After his death in 1981, Green was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame (1993) and the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame (1996), reflecting his impact on the literary world on both a national and local level.

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A Finding Aid for Web Archives

We started archiving websites in January 2013 through Archive-It, and now there is a finding aid for our harvested websites.  Our web archives are constantly growing, and we are working on expanding our archiving to YouTube and social media.

finding aid

We welcome your suggestions for UNC websites to harvest, please let us know in the comments!

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Dr. Tim McMillan on WUNC

If you missed Tim McMillan’s Black and Blue Tour this semester, which traces African American history at UNC, you can listen to Dr. McMillan speak with WUNC’s Phoebe Judge about the origins of and controversies surrounding some of the monuments on campus. Listen here.


The Unsung Founders Memorial, McCorkle Place



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