St. Anthony Hall donates autograph album from the 1860′s

The UNC University Archives is pleased to announce the donation of a precious artifact from the Xi Chapter of St. Anthony Hall (Delta Psi) and the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina, their associated alumni organization. This artifact is an autograph book that includes the signatures of members of Delta Psi and other UNC fraternities from the 1860s, many of whom served in the Confederate Army and several of whom were killed during the war.

The Xi Chapter of Delta Psi was founded on November 20, 1854, making it the second oldest fraternity still in existence at UNC.  The chapter was dormant for some years during the University’s post-Civil War ban on all fraternities and secret organizations. In 1926 Grahame Wood (U. Penn 1895) organized efforts to revive the Xi chapter at UNC. Xi has thrived since that time.

William C. Prout, brother in St. Anthony Hall, graduate of UNC’s class of 1865 and the original owner of the autograph album, presented the signature book to the re-founded Xi chapter in 1927. It has since been kept in the Xi Chapter’s extensive archives and was professionally restored in recent years under a grant from the St. Anthony Educational Foundation.  St. Anthony Hall and the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina moved to gift this item to the University Libraries due to its uniquely personal and historically valuable nature as well as its appeal to the University community as a whole.

Letter from William C. Prout donating the autograph album to the re-founded chapter in 1927

Letter from William C. Prout donating the autograph album to the re-founded chapter in 1927

Members of St. Anthony Hall at UNC in 1927 (from the Yackety-Yack)

Members of St. Anthony Hall at UNC in 1927 (from the Yackety-Yack)

The autograph album includes the signatures of students who attended UNC from 1862-1865, as well as other biographical data: the names of their girlfriends, their major area of study, their profession, the titles of courses taken, and their hometowns.  Brothers Prout and Wood later added death dates and annotated some of the entries to identify those who had been killed in the Civil War or had died.

Page spread from the autograph album

Page spread from the autograph album

In addition to signatures of St. Anthony Hall members, the book was passed around to other fraternities at UNC for their signatures.  Among the names from these other fraternities are Wesley Lewis Battle, who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg and was the brother of UNC President Kemp Plummer Battle;  Julian Shakespeare Carr, tobacco manufacturer and namesake of Carrboro; Fredrick A. Fetter, a tutor at UNC and son of the longtime UNC professor, Manuel Fetter; and M. A. Curtis, Jr., son of the Episcopal priest and noted mycologist whose family’s notes, diaries, correspondence and other papers are housed in the Southern Historical Collection.

Autograph of Wesley Lewis Battle

Autograph of Wesley Lewis Battle

Autograph of Julian S. Carr

Autograph of Julian S. Carr

This autograph album is a significant acquisition for the University Archives and does much to help its efforts to document student life at UNC.  St. Anthony Hall intends to donate additional historical materials that document its history and the various activities in which its members have participated since the chapter was reorganized in 1927 after having closed in the aftermath of the Civil War.

St. Anthony Hall is a literary, artistic and social fraternity comprising a diverse group of writers, artists and performers.  Brothers and sisters of St. Anthony Hall are highly active in student life, working at times as editors and staff of the Daily Tar Heel, Phoenix magazine, Cellar Door, LAMBDA magazine, Shakespeare’s Sister, The Sixty-Niner and Yackety Yack; as elected and appointed members of all branches of Student Government; as competitors in intramural and Carolina Athletics sports programs; as performers in a variety of choral and musical groups; and in productions by PlayMakers and The LAB! Theatre.

Sisters and brothers of St. Anthony Hall have also been a part of many literary and artistic organizations in the larger community, including Paperhand Puppet Intervention, The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, The Performance Collective, Internationalist Books, The Somnambulist Project, The People’s Channel and many others. St. Anthony Hall hosts a Xi Chapter alumni reunion weekend called Swingout every spring.

Rush and pledge periods are held every semester on a schedule independent from most other fraternity rush periods. Fall ‘12 rush is going on at this time. For information on rush activities contact rushsta@gmail.com.

Notable members of the Xi chapter include journalist Charles Kuralt ‘55, soccer coach Anson Dorrance ‘74, book critic Jonathan Yardley ‘61, sportswriter Peter Gammons ‘67, editorial cartoonist Jeff MacNelly ’69,  and basketball player Charlie Scott ’68, the first African-American to join a fraternity and receive an athletic scholarship at UNC.

Known for its support of progressive causes, St. Anthony Hall was one of only two fraternities to sign a pledge in 1963 not to patronize businesses and restaurants in Chapel Hill unless they desegregated. Its members were active in the fight to end the Speaker Ban and in the spring of 1971, the chapter became the first UNC fraternity to go co-ed.

St. Anthony Hall in the 1969 Yackety Yack

St. Anthony Hall in the 1969 Yackety Yack

St. Anthony Hall has eleven chapters around the country, the first of which was founded at Columbia in 1847.  In addition to UNC and Columbia, the other schools with chapters are University of Pennsylvania, Trinity College, University of Rochester, Princeton University, Brown University, University of Mississippi, Yale University, University of Virginia, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The autograph album is available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.  Its finding aid is available online at:  http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/uars/ead/40352.html.

Thanks to Michael Williams, the historian for the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina, for writing this post.

This entry was posted in From the Archives, New and Noteworthy, Student Life and Student Organizations, University Archives, University History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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