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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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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“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.

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