Introducing the UNC T-Shirt Archive

The UNC T-Shirt Archive.

The UNC T-Shirt Archive.

We are pleased to announce the release of the UNC T-Shirt Archive. This digital collection of Carolina T-shirts past and present provides a unique window into all aspects of student life at UNC. The website is available now, but it’s far from complete: for that, we need your help.

If you have a UNC shirt that is fun, interesting, important, or just looks good, we’d like to preserve a photo of it in the University Archives. Just take a photo of your favorite UNC-related shirt, and submit it to us. We’ll publish the images online and make sure that the digital files are preserved for posterity. Learn more about submitting shirts on the website or contact us directly via email (, Twitter (@uncarchives), or Instagram (@uncarchives).

Why Have a T-Shirt Archive?

As archivists, we don’t just worry about the records and documents that are in our collections: we think a lot about what we’re missing. We want to build a collection that documents all aspects of UNC history and culture, but because our stacks, our staff, and our servers can only handle a limited amount of material, we have to be selective.

Phi Mu Seniors, 1988

Phi Mu Seniors, 1988

One of the goals of the UNC-Chapel Hill University Archives in recent years has been to do a better job documenting student life. A few years ago, the Archives began an effort to collect records of student organizations. Building on the success of that project, we looked for other ways to ensure that we were preserving the experience of being a student at Carolina. After tossing around many ideas, we realized that some of the most distinctive and creative symbols of student life were right in front of us every day: t-shirts.

UNC Parachute Club t-shirt, ca. 1969-1973.

UNC Parachute Club t-shirt, ca. 1969-1973.

Inspired by the Wearing Gay History project, we decided to build and host a digital collection of images of UNC t-shirts, past and present. T-shirts are often more than just articles of clothing. They can tell a story, document an event, or celebrate an achievement. With the UNC T-Shirt Archive we hope to include shirts showing all aspects of student life and culture. We will accept images of t-shirts from students, alumni, and anyone else with a connection to Carolina and a story to tell. We’re looking forward to hearing from all of you who have shirts you’d like to contribute and are excited about this new initiative to preserve and share Carolina history.


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The Inauguration of Frank Porter Graham, 1931


Daily Tar Heel, 11 November 1931

Today in Chapel Hill, Margaret Spellings will be formally installed as the eighth president of the University of North Carolina System. As a proud UNC student and for my first blog post as a graduate assistant in the University Archives, I decided to look back at the inauguration ceremony of the first UNC System president, Frank Porter Graham.

Graham’s appointment as President of the UNC System followed just a year after he was inaugurated as President of UNC-Chapel Hill. There does not appear to have been a separate ceremony when he became system president, but his inauguration as UNC-Chapel Hill President was an elaborate event.

President Graham was officially sworn into office November 11, 1931.  It was no casual affair, either; according to the Daily Tar Heel, five thousand people came out to witness the ceremony.  The ceremony itself was planned to coincide with Armistice Day and the annual meeting of the Association of American Universities. 

Footage of Frank Porter Graham’s inauguration procession. From the North Carolina Collection.

The ceremony began with a procession from Bingham Hall to Kenan Stadium. As bells chimed from South Building, ten different divisions of marchers assembled at Bingham Hall, including student body representatives, the class of 1909 (Graham’s own graduating class), North Carolina state officials, and representatives from other universities across the United States. A trumpet signaled the beginning of the procession. As everyone took their place in Kenan Stadium, two minutes of silence were observed to honor the World War I armistice and the thirteen years of peace since then. North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner opened the ceremony, and due to the absence of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice W. P. Stacy, the Honorable W. J. Adams administered the oath of office. The whole ceremony was specially amplified so everyone in the large stadium would be able to hear the proceedings.   


Caption reads: “W.J. Adams, associate justice of the North Carolina supreme court, in the left of this photograph, is administering a formal oath inducting Frank Porter Graham into the presidency of the University, yesterday morning. Immediately behind the president is Governor O. Max Gardner. Other dignitaries concerned with the occasion appear in the background.” From the Daily Tar Heel, 12 November 1931

After the official swearing-in ceremony, the day continued with more events – a luncheon, official meet-and-greets with various university representatives, and musical performances by the music department and the glee club.  Since the 33rd annual meeting of the American University Association began the day following Graham’s inauguration, a large number of university officials were present for the ceremony and following events.  These officials included deans and presidents from Harvard, Columbia, Northwestern, and more.


Caption reads: “Pictured above are five distinguished men in the educational world who will be among the sixty-seven delegates attending the thirty-third annual meeting of the Association of American Universities which opens at the University of North Carolina Thursday, November 12. They also represented their institutions at the inauguration of President Frank Graham. Top row, left to right: Dean Howard Lee McBain of Columbia university, President Walter Dill Scott of Northwestern university, and Dean W. Whatley Pierson of the University of North Carolina, who is chairman of the committee on arrangements. Bottom row: Dean George H. Chase of Harvard university, and Dean H. Lamar Crosby of the University of Pennsylvania.” Daily Tar Heel, 12 November 1931


Daily Tar Heel, 11 November 1931

The Daily Tar Heel‘s dedicated inauguration issue didn’t skimp on descriptions of the event and praise for Graham and the future of the University, and so I end this post with a couple of my favorites quotes — ones that seemed to sum up the student body’s and the larger academic world’s opinion of the event and President Graham himself.

“Frank Porter Graham, who more than any other by his peculiar qualities of absolute impartialness, sincere support of the Ideal, unusual humanity, and indefatigable energy on behalf of the University and the state personifies that which education in its usefulness and inspirational service to the community and the commonwealth strives to accomplish.”

“Long now has education been satisfied to rest in conservatism restrained by tradition, when it should be the intellectual beacon guiding men onward into unknown but knowable. Too long have universities been sepulchers for the imprisoned culture of past ages. The time is at hand to loose Wisdom and Culture from their dungeons that they may serve mankind.  The presidency of Frank Porter Graham by its enlightenment can be the single greatest factor in lifting North Carolina from the intellectual rear guard of the forty-eight states to that position of preeminence which its long and illustrious history deserves.”

Daily Tar Heel, 11 November 1931

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The International Program in Sanitary Engineering Design

IPSED 2nd Session, October 1963. Photograph by Pete Julian.

IPSED 2nd Session, October 1963. Photograph by Pete Julian.

We recently received a group of photographs documenting the International Program in Sanitary Engineering Design (IPSED), a program established by the School of Public Health in 1962. The program attracted participants from all around the world to attend classes and complete internships in North Carolina, before returning to their home countries. Application materials show that some of these engineers were responsible for delivering potable water to entire regions and cities in their home countries, which included Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Libya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Sudan, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

IPSED participants and faculty, 4th Session.

IPSED participants and faculty, 4th Session.

According to a report found on the website of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), IPSED was developed to fill a gap in sanitary engineering education for engineers from “developing countries.” Prior to the creation of IPSED, promising sanitary engineers from these countries would attend schools in Europe or the United States. The design concepts taught at these schools had little practical application in the engineers’ home countries, where they would face radically different socioeconomic and technological conditions. The classes and internships offered by the IPSED program were oriented toward the unique sanitary engineering challenges that these engineers would face when they returned home.

The photographs shown here give a glimpse into the lives of a diverse group of sanitary engineers, learning and collaborating in Chapel Hill in the 1960s and 1970s.

IPSED participant visiting the Ohio State Department of Health, 11th Session, 1969.

IPSED participant visiting the Ohio State Department of Health, 11th Session, 1969.

IPSED participant at the Durham Water Filtration Plant, 11th Session, 1969.

IPSED participant at the Durham Water Filtration Plant, 11th Session, 1969.

See the finding aid for the Records of the School of Public Health for more information about this recent acquisition.

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Observance of Nazi Book Burning, 1943

Students listen to the speaker at the observance of the 1933 Nazi Book Burning on the steps of Wilson Library, 1943

Students listen to the speaker at the observance of the 1933 Nazi Book Burning on the steps of Wilson Library, 1943. (UNC Image Collection, P0004)

The steps of Wilson Library are a prime spot for UNC students to socialize, eat lunch, and catch up on reading. But on May 10, 1943, a small crowd gathered there with a far different purpose.  At ten-thirty in the morning, a bugler opened a “special ceremony to mark [the] German ‘War on Culture’”—as described by the Daily Tar Heel.  This event observed the tenth anniversary of the Nazi book burnings.  On that date in 1933, the German Student Union had burned over 25,000 books they deemed “un-German” in demonstrations across Germany.  Books considered “un-German” included works by Americans such as Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.  Other burned books were written by Jews or contained material deemed contrary to the German spirit.  Americans were horrified by this censorship, and remained so a decade later.

Daily Tar Heel, 9 May 1943.

Daily Tar Heel, 9 May 1943.

By 1943, the UNC community was deeply involved in the war effort. Male students participated in military drills as part of the Carolina Volunteer Training Corps.  In the lobby of Wilson Library, the “War Information Center” collected and disseminated information about the war.  The College for War Training taught courses designed to prepare students “for maximum fulfillment of their war job potentialities.” Students even wore wearing red, white, and blue clothing, as noted in a fashion column from the Daily Tar Heel

Like students’ sartorial choices, the dramatization of the 1933 book burning was a symbolic gesture of patriotism. It was just one of many such ceremonies inspired by the Council of Books in Wartime, an organization that championed the use of books as “weapons in the war of ideas.”  The Library of Congress and the New York Public Library also held events to recall the Nazi book burning.

Exhibit of burned books in Wilson Library, 1943

Exhibit of burned books in Wilson Library, 1943. (UNC Image Collection, P0004)

At the UNC ceremony, Professor of English W.A. Olsen read selections from Stephen Vincent Benet’s radio play, “They Burned the Books.” Written in 1942, Benet’s play condemned Nazi censorship and celebrated American freedom.  Wilson Library also presented an exhibit featuring books burned by the Nazis.  John Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle and Storm Over the Land by Carl Sandburg were among the books on display.  Underneath a highly stylized depiction of Hitler, the exhibit tagline explains that “THESE ARE THE BOOKS THAT HITLER HATES BECAUSE THEY ARE OUR WEAPONS.”

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“A real dog fight”: The 1960 Mock Democratic National Convention

A pair of donkeys lead the parade for the UNC Mock Democratic National Convention. The Daily Tar Heel, April 30, 1960.

A pair of donkeys lead the parade for the UNC Mock Democratic National Convention. The Daily Tar Heel, April 30, 1960.

With the Republican and Democratic National Conventions happening this month, I started looking for Daily Tar Heel coverage of past national conventions. I came across several mentions of a “mock” Democratic National Convention — it turns out that in April 1960, the Carolina student body staged this massive event in anticipation of the real DNC in July.

Norman B. Smith, the target of the recall vote

Norman B. Smith, the target of the recall vote. The Daily Tar Heel, April 26, 1960.

The Mock Convention took place across two days, April 29-30, and featured speeches from Chancellor William B. Aycock, Governor Luther H. Hodges, Congressman Ed Edmondson, and Senator Albert Gore (whose son Al Gore would win the Democratic presidential nomination 40 years later). A committee of student Democrats also proposed and voted on a Democratic party platform.

Of course, the Mock Convention was not without its scandals. An April 26 profile of the Convention Chairman, UNC senior Norman B. Smith, “outed” him as a registered Republican. Three days later, at the start of the Mock Convention, a DTH headline proclaimed that a “movement” had begun to recall Smith as Chairman. The UNC Young Democratic Club hoped to seize their chance to recall Smith later that afternoon at the convention. This resulted in the first roll call vote of the convention. However, the Young Democrats failed to oust Smith — he was confirmed as “Permanent Chairman” by the roll call vote.

Why a Mock DNC, and not a Mock RNC? According to Convention Chairman Smith, there were several reasons for this choice:

In the first place there are enough candidates for the Democratic nomination to make the Convention a real dog fight and a lot of fun. Everybody knows who the Republicans are going to nominate.

At this point in the presidential race, Richard Nixon was already the only likely candidate for the Republican nomination. The Democratic field, however, had many strong contenders. The choices on the Mock Convention ballot were Harry S. Truman, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Stuart Symington, Hubert Humphrey, Albert Gore, and Ed Edmondson.

The Mock Convention candidates. The Daily Tar Heel, April 29, 1960.

The Mock Convention candidates. The Daily Tar Heel, April 29, 1960.

Convention Chairman Smith continued:

Then, too, we Republicans are outnumbered… This is a Democratic state and, thus, a Democratic campus. We felt therefore, that many more people would be interested in a Democratic Convention.

(In a strange turn of events, a May 3 article heralded Smith’s revival-style conversion to the Democratic party at the Mock Convention, where he stated, “I don’t know what happened… I’m a Democrat now, and extremely happy.”)

The Mock Convention concluded with a vote, where students selected former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson as their presidential candidate, and Senator John F. Kennedy as his running mate.

Of course, we now have the benefit of hindsight. The Democratic candidate chosen by Carolina students did not ultimately win the Democratic nomination — JFK won a sizable majority at the 1960 DNC. But these articles from the Daily Tar Heel offer some fascinating insight into the student body and changing political climate at UNC at the beginning of the 1960’s. The articles show an increasing emphasis on student engagement in politics, and the Mock Convention’s platform turned out to be as liberal on civil rights issues as the actual Democratic platform of 1960. In some ways, the activities of the Mock Convention, the first ever held at Carolina, anticipates the student activism and political awareness of the 1960’s.

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New Edition of the Records Schedule Released

sched_coverWe’re excited to announce the release of a new, improved edition of the University’s General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. The Schedule is a guide to the records produced by UNC Chapel Hill and UNC General Administration and their disposition – whether and when records should be discarded or transferred to University Archives.

The new edition, which can be found on our website, supersedes the previous schedule released in 2012.  so I encourage you all to review the sections of the new schedule that are most relevant to your records and update any of your unit’s internal documentation and policies that refer to the old schedule.

Many thanks to everyone on campus, at the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and at UNC General Administration who provided vital feedback and support during the revision process.

Please direct any questions you have about the new schedule and other records management inquiries to

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“Search For A Common Ground”: Frank Porter Graham’s 1966 Commencement Address

Frank Porter Graham Speech at the 1957 Inauguration of Bill Friday, from Office of President of the University of North Carolina (System): William C. Friday Records, 1957-1986 (#40009), University Archives

Frank Porter Graham speaking at the 1957 Inauguration of Bill Friday, from Office of President of the University of North Carolina (System): William C. Friday Records, 1957-1986 (#40009), University Archives.

Having recently graduated from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, I thought it would be fitting for my final blog post to examine a past graduation. In researching the class of 1966 for its 50th anniversary, I found that year’s commencement address. The speech, titled “Search for a Common Ground,” was given by Frank Porter Graham, the former President of UNC-Chapel Hill and the consolidated UNC system. Graham took the opportunity to address the Speaker Ban law that was then being challenged in court.

The law, officially titled “An Act to Regulate Visiting Speakers at State Supported Colleges and Universities,” was enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in June of 1963. Although students and faculty across the state argued against the law, Chapel Hill was at the center of the protest. The most visible challenge to the law came in 1966 when two speakers were invited by UNC students to speak on campus. Because the speakers were members of the Communist Party, they had to address the students from the sidewalk of Franklin Street, across the wall from McCorkle Place. Graham’s commencement address was delivered just a few months after these speeches and the subsequent legal challenge that would lead to the law being overturned in 1968.

Graham opens his speech with a brief history of the University, from its founding in the 18th century through its closure during the Civil War to the administration of President Kemp Plummer Battle. Graham set this historical groundwork in order to present, “a balanced and fair analysis in seeking to find a common ground for our whole University family.” Graham is careful to present his thoughts in a neutral manner and not to embroil himself in the legal or political dispute. However, Graham does identify some of those opposed to the Ban including seven prominent student groups, the North Carolina Chapters of the American Association of University Professors in the Universities and Colleges of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Chapter of the Civil Liberties Union. With regard to the student body, he remarked that “in electing their present President, who I understand, made one of the main planks in his campaign for election the right of having student-sponsored, responsible, balanced and free open forums, were aware of his vigorous position on this matter and were sincere in their support of him.”

Graham also used this speech to address the charges of atheism and communism that were being leveled against the University and its representatives. In response to the fear of growing atheism, Graham reminds the audience of how

many honest young minds in the colleges have in times past effectively grappled with (1) the Copernican dethronement of the earth as the center of the universe, (2) the Darwinian evolutionary identification of man with animals, (3) the alleged overriding of spiritual power by Marxist economic determinism, (4) the Freudian subjection of the conscious mind to primitive drives and subconscious forces, and (5) the modification of absolute theories by the theory of relativity.

Similarly, he denies the claim that the University is soft on communism by stating,

the fact that the students wish to hear communists speak in their responsible and fairly balanced open forums along with speakers who represent the extreme right, the conservative and the liberal points of view, does not mean that they are soft on communism, but simply means they wish to understand the nature of the world of their generation.

While the Speaker Ban issue was resolved almost 50 years ago, speech on college campuses is still a divisive issue. Frank Porter Graham’s reconciliation of a state-imposed  law with the values and mission of the University also parallels the controversy surrounding House Bill 2 in which North Carolina and the University are currently engaged.

For more information about the Speaker Ban Law, visit the A Right to Speak and Hear library exhibit or the exhibit in The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History

[Frank Porter Graham’s 1966 Commencement Address, from Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Joseph Carlyle Sitterson Records, 1966-1972 (#40022), University Archives]

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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]



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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.

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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.

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