Category Archives: University History

Remembering Gwendolyn Harrison, the First African American Woman to Attend UNC

When Gwendolyn Harrison decided to come to UNC to pursue a Ph.D. in Spanish, she went through the usual process: she applied and was accepted, and she was assigned a room in one of the women’s dormitories. She arrived on … Continue reading

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Carolina Firsts: Karen L. Parker

At the University Day celebration on October 11, 2016, Chancellor Carol Folt announced a new program to name scholarships after notable “firsts” in UNC history. In recognition of the individuals recognized as pioneers at UNC, the University Archives is publishing blog … Continue reading

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A Cartoon Mystery Solved

A few years ago, we posted about a series of cartoons found in the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005). The large, undated drawings showed Chemistry and Physics as colliding trains, fighting roosters, and scuffling men. We weren’t sure when … Continue reading

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Did Hinton James Really Walk all the way to UNC?

It’s one of the most enduring legends of UNC history: a lone student, Hinton James, walking all the way from his home in Wilmington and arriving in Chapel Hill on February 12, 1795, where he reported to the one-building campus … Continue reading

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German POWs at UNC

During World War II, UNC employed German prisoners of war in the dining halls.  Beginning in 1943, the Navy rented facilities from UNC to operate a Pre-Flight Training School and other training grounds.  As part of that arrangement, Lenoir Hall … Continue reading

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The UNC “White Phantoms”?

The UNC men’s basketball team was known informally as the “White Phantoms” from the 1920s through 1950s. It wasn’t an official nickname — they’ve always been the Tar Heels — but White Phantoms was a popular term for the team, … Continue reading

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1982 — UNC’s First Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

In 1982, UNC held its first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day Celebration. The multi-day celebration included a variety of events honoring Dr. King and his legacy. The featured speaker at the University-wide celebration was Dr. Prezell R. Robinson, president of … Continue reading

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North Carolina Governors Who Went to UNC

When Roy Cooper was sworn in as Governor of North Carolina on January 1st, he became the 32nd North Carolina Governor to have attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here’s the full list. William Miller Attended 1802 … Continue reading

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A Holiday Tradition: Frederick Koch’s Reading of a Christmas Carol

When Carolina Playmakers founder Frederick Koch came to UNC in 1918, he brought with him a holiday tradition – annual dramatic readings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Each year, he performed the classic Christmas tale on campus and in towns across … Continue reading

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Michael Eric Dyson’s 1996 Commencement Speech

Twenty years ago this week, UNC professor Michael Eric Dyson delivered the commencement address at the winter graduation ceremony. The speech, “Is America Still a Dream?,” was immediately controversial. Dyson, a faculty member in the department of communications, wrote about … Continue reading

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