German Language during World War I

Everything gets more stressful when parents get involved, especially choosing courses. In 1918, Llewellyn French signed up for a chemical engineering course that required 2 years of German.  At the time, the U.S was fighting Germany in World War I.  The war sparked a backlash against German culture and language.  Llewellyn’s father, William, protested his son’s enrollment in German language in a letter to University President Edward Kidder Graham, “I thought every true American institution had discarded everything pretaining [sic] to the cursed German nation, and I assure you I for one am just red blooded enough not to allow it in my family.  German cannot be spoken in my presence.”

President Graham responded the next day, explaining that the chemistry faculty found that students who didn’t read German had difficulty in that particular course. While it might seem like chemistry has nothing to do with foreign language,  in the early 20th century many scientific texts were written in German.  He further presented his own position on the language debate, arguing that educated men should continue learning German.   After all, he said, “I do not think we should cease to study cancer simply because the cancer preys upon the healthy body.”  However, Graham conceded that elementary schools should teach French, the language of America’s ally, rather than German.

This is not the only time that President Graham was asked to weigh in on the debate over German language. Other university presidents and the United States Commissioner of Education sent letters requesting that Graham make a public statement on his position.  These letters, including the elder French’s incendiary missives, are preserved in the University of North Carolina Papers at the University Archives.  You can see part of the exchange below:

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Carolina Firsts: Henry Owl

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 posts with more information about each of the twenty-one “firsts.” This post is part of that series.

From the 1927 "Hacawa," student yearbook at Lenoir Rhyne College.

From the 1927 “Hacawa,” student yearbook at Lenoir Rhyne College.

Henry Owl, a member of the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians, was the first Native American student to attend UNC.  Owl came to Carolina in the fall of 1928 and graduated the following year with a Master of Arts in History.

Owl was born in 1896 near Rattlesnake Mountain in western North Carolina. He attended the school at the Cherokee reservation, which at the time went only through eighth grade. Owl began his college education at the Hampton Institute, a primarily African American school in Hampton, Virginia. After leaving Hampton, Owl joined the U.S. Army and then taught briefly in Oklahoma. He returned to North Carolina in 1925 to enroll in Lenoir College (now Lenoir-Rhyne University) in Hickory.

At Lenoir, Owl was a member of multiple college clubs and was elected “Most Popular Boy.” He was also a star athlete, playing football and baseball. He was inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. According to Lenoir-Rhyne, Owl was the first Cherokee to graduate from a North Carolina college. 

Not long after coming to Chapel Hill, Owl was mentioned in a Daily Tar Heel article about UNC’s “most cosmopolitan student body,” which discusses the growing number of international and out-of-state students at the university, despite the fact that Owl was neither an international nor an out-of-state student.    

Owl wrote his master’s thesis on the history of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. The thesis, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Before and After Renewal, is available in Wilson Library.

In 1930, just a year after graduating from UNC, Owl was prohibited from voting in Swain County. A profile in a the Lenoir-Rhyne alumni magazine described what happened:

[Owl’s daughter, Gladys Cardiff] said her father often discussed this incident. “North Carolina had some issue that they knew the tribe would be voting against,” she said. In those days the state had a literacy test for voters. When Owl tried to register, he was turned away on the grounds that he was illiterate. Owl left the courthouse and returned with a copy of his master’s thesis.

The story of Owl’s struggle to vote eventually reached the U.S. Congress, which passed a law affirming that Cherokees in North Carolina were citizens and had the right to vote.

Owl worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a teacher and principal on reservations in North Carolina, Montana, and South Dakota. He moved with his family to Seattle where he worked as a counselor at the Veteran’s Administration and later as an inspector at Boeing. Wary of the racism that he knew he and his family would encounter on leaving the reservation, Owl began using his wife’s last name, Harris. He died in Seattle in 1980.

In addition to the new Carolina Firsts scholarship named in Owl’s honor, in 2011, the Department of American studies announced an endowed scholarship named The Henry Owl Scholarship Fund for Undergraduate Students.  The scholarship provides need-based assistance to undergraduate majors in the American Studies department, with preference given to those studying American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Sources and Further Reading:

“Living in Two Worlds,” Profile: The Magazine of Lenior-Rhyne College, Winter 2007.

“The Henry Owl Scholarship and a Class in ‘Gumption,’ UNC Arts & Sciences Magazine, 2014.

“Cherokee Indian Leaders Eloquently Describe to Senators Needs of Tribe.” Asheville-Citizen Times, 27 March 1930.

“Members of Indian Family Win Honors in Scholastic Work.” Asheville-Citizen Times, 27 November 1932

“Owl Family Holds Reunion.” Asheville-Citizen Times, 26 August 1962

“North Carolina Deaths, Funerals: Henry Harris” Asheville-Citizen Times, 11 March 1980

“Lenoir-Rhyne Announces Sports Hall Of Fame Class Of 2012” L-R Athletics, 26 September 2012.

Lenoir-Rhyne University. Hacawa. 1927.

“University Presents Most Cosmopolitan Student Body.” Daily Tar Heel. 6 October 1928.

“First Indian Student at UNC, Henry Owl.” The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History.

“Henry Owl Fellowship honors American Indian pioneer.” Cherokee One Feather. 31 October 2012.

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Carolina Tweets #archiveunc

When you think of archives you might think of dusty old books and papers tucked away to be used by historians and other academics. Here at the University Archives we preserve plenty of old University records (that are kept dust-free, by the way), but our day-to-day work is actually very focused on the current moment. Without collecting materials that document the present day researchers can’t study the University in the future.

One way we archive the current moment is through collecting student life materials and UNC related web content. With only three full time staff members it can be tough to keep up with all the conversations, events, and activism happening on campus. We can’t do this alone. This is where you come in!

You can actively contribute to the documentation of what’s happening at UNC by using the hashtag #archiveunc on your public tweets or Instagram posts. That’s all you have to do! By using the hashtag, you opt in to having the posts archived for long-term preservation and research access.

How is the content archived? We will periodically use a tool called Archive-It to “crawl” the tweets or posts tagged with the #archiveunc hashtag. Once the posts have been crawled by the Archive-it tool, the data is preserved by the Internet Archive and we provide access through our Archive-It website.

What kind of tweets are we looking for? We’re open to any tweets or Instagram posts related to UNC academics, campus life, and events. For example:

  • Promoting a student organization event? #archiveunc
  • Protesting? #archiveunc
  • Promoting a cause? #archiveunc
  • Sharing activities or chalk messages seen on campus? #archiveunc

If you don’t use #archiveunc, we may be in touch to ask permission to add your social media content or website to the Archives. Collecting social media content as it unfolds is new for us. We’re experimenting, so how we ask for permission and the technology used may evolve over time. As things change, we’ll keep you in the loop.

We hope you’ll join us in this exciting new effort!

Not interested in social media? Other ways to get involved and help document Carolina history:

  • Submit photos of UNC shirts to the UNC T-Shirt Archive.
  • Connect with us regarding donation of student organization records, digital or print photos, videos, or campus posters/flyers. If it documents something happening at UNC, we’re happy to talk about adding it to the archives. Please email ( us to get the process started.
  • Nominate a UNC website for archiving. First check to see if we’ve already archived the website: If the website can’t be found in our web archives, send us an email ( to get the process started.

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Summer in the Archives: Carolina’s Untold History Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Photo from the Southeastern Gay Conference, from the 1976 Yackety Yack

Photo from the Southeastern Gay Conference, from the 1976 Yackety Yack

We are pleased to announce a new research fellowship for undergraduate students who are interested in getting hands-on experience with archival research and who want to contribute to the ongoing conversation about UNC history.

The University Library and the Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill’s History are sponsoring four undergraduate research fellowships for summer 2017. The fellows will work in the University Archives in Wilson Library on research projects that will help to expand the existing narrative of UNC history. The research will focus on underrepresented, excluded, or misrepresented people and events – the “untold” stories that have not made it into traditional accounts of Carolina’s history.

How to Apply

The Carolina’s Untold History fellowships will be administered through the Office of Undergraduate Research as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. Visit the SURF website for more information about how to apply.

A color photo of UNC housekeepers holding a sign that reads "The UNC Housekeepers Association" in front of the "Silent Sam" Confederate monument on the UNC campus.

A demonstration of the UNC Housekeepers Association, circa 1996.

Research Topics

As part of the application process, students will work with a faculty adviser and with the staff of the UNC University Archives to develop a research topic. Topics will be related to UNC history and must focus on aspects of university history that have not been covered at length in existing histories of UNC. University Archives staff can help applicants determine whether there are sufficient archival resources to support the nine-week fellowship. Students should contact the University Archives to discuss potential topics:

Sample Topics

The following are just examples of the types of topics students might choose to explore.

A black and white photo of women students doing laundry in a dormitory in 1948.

Women students doing laundry in a dormitory, 1948.

Applicants are encouraged to be thoughtful and creative about their research topics and should contact the University Archives to discuss potential research ideas.

  • The origins of the Carolina Gay Association in 1974 and the struggle for early LGBTQ organizations at UNC to receive recognition and support.
  • A look at racial segregation practices on the UNC campus before and after the arrival of the first African American students in the 1950s.
  • The practice of hiring slaves to use as college servants prior to emancipation.
  • An examination of the different administrative policies for women students in the early to mid 20th century.


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Morehead-Patterson Memorial Bell Tower Dedication, November 26, 1931

One of UNC’s most beloved landmarks, the Morehead-Patterson Memorial Bell Tower, was dedicated on November 26, 1931. Thanks to a recent gift from an alumnus, we are pleased to be able to share the program from the dedication ceremony. (Click on the image below to view the full program.)

UNC bell tower dedication program, 1931. UNC Ephemera Collection, NCC.

UNC bell tower dedication program, 1931. UNC Ephemera Collection, NCC.

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Carolina Firsts: Hortense McClinton

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 posts with more information about each of the twenty-one “firsts.” This post is part of that series.

Hortense McClinton, 2015 (University Gazette.)

Hortense McClinton, 2015 (University Gazette.)

Hortense McClinton: Carolina’s First African American Faculty Member

In July 1966, Hortense McClinton accepted an offer to teach in the UNC School of Social Work. She was the first African American faculty member hired at UNC.

McClinton grew up in Boley, Oklahoma. She attended Howard University and earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania. McClinton moved to Durham with her husband and was hired by the Durham County Department of Social Services at the Veteran’s Administration hospital. She was the first African American professional social worker employed by the department and the only African American professional on staff at the hospital. McClinton was working for the VA when she received her first offer from UNC in 1964. Reluctant to accept a job funded by term-limited grant money, she refused. When another position in the department was open two years later – this time with more secure funding – UNC reached out to McClinton again and this time she accepted, beginning what would be a nearly 20-year career at Carolina.

Hortense McClinton (left) with students in the School of Social Work ca. 1984. School of Social Work catalog, 1984-1985,

Hortense McClinton (left) with students in the School of Social Work ca. 1984. School of Social Work catalog, 1984-1985,

In a 2011 interview with the Southern Oral History Program, McClinton noted that her presence at the school was a milestone for UNC:  “Some students, I think, were quite shocked to see me, but I really enjoyed the students. They were really open and nice and I felt.”

In 1972, drawing from her personal experiences, McClinton began to teach a course on institutional racism. She explained, “I finally decided, well, if you’ve been taught a certain thing all your life, you have to learn to know something different. That’s when I started the class in institutional racism.” McClinton spent much of her academic career helping students gain the knowledge and skills they would need to provide social services without racial or cultural bias.

1974 School of Social Work catalog.

1974 School of Social Work catalog.

McClinton’s work at UNC ranged far beyond her classes at the School of Social Work. She was appointed to multiple committees, including the Committee on the Status of Women, the Carolina Association of Disabled Students, the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of the Minorities and the Disadvantaged, and multiple search committees.  McClinton later said that she felt she was on so many committees because she was the only African American faculty member at UNC for three years, and one of just a few for several years after that.

McClinton’s arrival at UNC appears to have gone largely unheralded at the time. Searching through records of UNC administrators in 1966, I could not find any correspondence discussing or protesting the hire; nor could I find anything noting the significance of her appointment. This is in marked contrast to the admission of the first African American students at UNC in the 1950s, which came after lengthy court battles and were well covered in the local media. When the first African American faculty member to be hired as a full professor at UNC – English professor Dr. Blyden Jackson, who came to UNC in 1969 — he was the subject of a feature story in the Daily Tar Heel. McClinton, on the other hand, is barely mentioned in the school paper, at least as far as we could tell through keyword searches in the digitized DTH archives.

McClinton has received many awards and honors professionally and at UNC. She is recognized as a “Social Work Pioneer” by the National Association of Social Workers. At Carolina, the Hortense McClinton Outstanding Faculty Staff Award is presented by the General Alumni Association; the Hortense McClinton Senior Service Award is presented by the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; and, in 2009, she received a Legacy Award from the Black Faculty Staff Caucus.


“Mrs. McClinton did not study black history – she lived it.” University Gazette, 27 February 2015.

Southern Oral History Program interview with Hortense McClinton, 2011.

National Association of Social Workers, Social Work Pioneers.



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Letters from World War I

Carolina students and alumni serving abroad during World War I didn’t just write letters home to their parents; they also wrote to University President Edward Kidder Graham. A recent ‘Spotlight’ post on the University’s home page explores the close relationship between student soldiers and Graham through their correspondence.  In honor of Veteran’s Day, we pulled a letter written by a group of soldiers in France from the University Archives.  Read about their wartime experiences and note their yearning for Chapel Hill.

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Now Available: Records of the UNC Cardboard Club

University Archives is pleased to share a newly processed collection – the records of the UNC Cardboard Club. The Cardboard Club, started in 1948 by UNC cheerleader Norman Sper, coordinated and produced displays at UNC football games, using colored cardboard squares to form words and images in the stands.


Animated GIF made from photos from a 1967 football game between UNC and Wake Forest, in the Records of the UNC Cardboard Club (#40354), University Archives.










Members of the club planned out their designs on gridded paper, and placed cardboard squares and cue cards listing the upcoming “stunts” on the seats of the “card section” of Kenan Stadium the night before football games.

GIF made from photos of a 1966 UNC versus Duke game from the Cardboard Club Records (40354), University Archives.

GIF made from photos of a 1966 UNC versus Duke game from the Cardboard Club Records (40354), University Archives.










The club was funded by the Carolina Athletic Association. It was discontinued in 1987, in part due to safety concerns–students often sent their cardboard panels flying towards the field at the end of games, hitting fellow spectators.

See more photos of the Club’s game day stunts in the collection finding aid.


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Haunted House of Master Mangum


From the Daily Tar Heel, 31 October 1985



David Brown begging for sympathy from visitors in Mangum’s Haunted House Wednesday Night (From the Daily Tar Heel, 31 October 1985)

Halloween is fast approaching, and students across campus are deciding what costume to wear for a night out on Franklin Street. The tradition of roaming Franklin Street on Halloween began in the early 1980s and while the tradition is well known across the state, it’s not the only way students on campus have celebrated the holiday.  In the fall of 1981, residents of Mangum dormitory decided they wanted to buy an ice machine for the building. When they learned the University wouldn’t cover the costs under its enhancement policy, they took matters into their own hands and decided to raise the money themselves by staging a haunted house.

The first Mangum Haunted House opened at 7 p.m. on October 30, 1981 and visitors paid $1 for a guided tour through “madmen, a hell scene, a cemetery scene, and a lot of other scary scenes,” according to Mangum Resident Assistant Billy Leland (from the Daily Tar Heel, 30 October 1981). The 1st Annual Mangum Haunted House was open until midnight on the 30th and from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. on the 31st.  The event was a success, and an ice machine was purchased.

The event continued until the mid-1990’s, with Mangum residents trying to create a new and scarier version of the haunted house each year, and beginning in 1982, proceeds from ticket and t-shirt sales were donated to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.


“Slime, anyone?” From the Daily Tar Heel, 31 October 1985


From the Daily Tar Heel, 31 October 1986

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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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