Nicholas Graham Appointed University Archivist

Nicholas GrahamUniversity Archives and Records Management Services is pleased to announce the appointment of Nick Graham as University Archivist.

In this position, Nick will provide vision and leadership for the University Archives and Records Management Services (UARMS) department.  He will be responsible for managing the University records program in accordance with State of North Carolina public records laws and records schedules, including the ingest and preservation of University electronic records of long-term value.  He will also provide administrative reference service for UNC administrators, faculty, and staff; develop programs recognizing and promoting UNC history; and solicit and acquire appropriate collections of faculty papers.

Prior to this appointment, Nick was the Program Coordinator for the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and the Assistant to the Director of Wilson Library at UNC.  He was previously the North Carolina Maps Project Librarian for the Carolina Digital Library and Archives at the Wilson Library and Head of Public Services for the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library.

Nick holds a B.A. in British and American Literature from New College of Florida in Sarasota and an M.L.S. from the UNC School of Information and Library Science.

Welcome to UARMS, Nick!

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The Struggle for the Navy Pre-Flight School

In 1941 the United States Department of the Navy was determining which four universities would house the Naval Aviation Cadet Instruction Centers. The schools under consideration had to have extensive recreational facilities to accommodate the rigorous physical training required for naval cadets. Furthermore, there needed to be classroom space, dormitories, mess hall space and infirmary space available. All of this also had to be supported by janitorial services, laundry facilities and regular maintenance services. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believed that it could provide all of this, and if it did not already exist, further infrastructure would be built to fill the gaps. However, UNC was fighting an uphill battle. The University of Georgia had been appointed as the southern region school while UNC was still being inspected by the Navy for suitability. Below is UNC Controller William D. Carmichael Jr.’s response to the news (click to enlarge).


Letter from William D. Carmichael Jr. to Tom Hamilton. From the Office of the Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina (System) Records, 1923-1972, #40011, University Archives.

The president of the United States at that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, apologized personally when he found out the University of Georgia had been appointed for the southern region over the University of North Carolina:


Letter from F. D. R. to Joshua Daniels concerning appointment of Navy Pre-Flight Schools. From the Office of the Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina (System) Records, 1923-1972, #40011, University Archives.

This meant that UNC had to fight to be the eastern region school, and this was a much tougher battle to win. Through hard work, and a lot of lobbying,  UNC won the battle against all of the universities in the northeast to host the eastern region pre-flight school. It was not just patriotic fervor that pushed the administration to bid for one of these pre-flight schools–there was also a financial advantage. The Navy split the costs of  improvements and additions to the campus that were made to house the pre-flight school, paying the lion’s share themselves. The Navy also paid for the housing and feeding of their cadets while stationed at UNC and compensated the university for any wear and tear to the facilities used. The following is a breakdown of the work done at UNC to enable the Navy pre-flight school to operate.


Report on work done to make the UNC Chapel Hill campus ready for the Navy Pre-Flight School. From the Office of the Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina (System) Records, 1923-1972, #40011, University Archives.

Another advantage of having the Naval Aviation Cadet Instruction Center at UNC was bragging rights. The UNC administration at the time was adamant that UNC would become the “first” of the four schools, meaning the very best  of the “Annapolises of the Air”.

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Igniting a Rivalry: The 1961 UNC-Duke Basketball Fight

The basketball rivalry between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University is one of the most contentious and well-known in America. One of the earliest and fiercest displays of this rivalry was an on-court fight on February 4, 1961. It was at this UNC-Duke matchup that UNC players Larry Brown and Don Walsh and Duke player Art Heyman started a bench-clearing brawl. It has been suggested that some of the hostility between Brown and Heyman may have resulted from having played against each other in high school. Heyman had also committed to attending UNC before changing his mind and enrolling at Duke.

Video of the February 4, 1961 Duke – UNC fight, Duke University. Basketball Game Film Collection University Archives, Duke University.

In attendance at this game was James H. Weaver, Commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the athletic conference to which both schools belonged. In a letter found in the files of then-chancellor William B. Aycock, Weaver reacted to the fight. He criticized the behavior of students in the crowd, calling them “juvenile delinquents” who

amuse themselves by tossing articles onto the playing floor, booing officials, booing visiting players while they are attempting foul shots, and at the same time, eagerly awaiting any opportunity to rush onto the court and further display their total lack of maturity.

Commissioner Weaver pointedly warned that though the three players primarily involved in the altercation were young and at the beginning of their careers, “sophomores must be made to realize that they too can cause riots.” As a result of this incident, Larry Brown, Don Walsh, and Art Heyman were “declared ineligible to compete against other Atlantic Coast Conference teams for the remainder of the regular season 1960-61,” were “not to appear in basketball uniforms at games in which they are ineligible to compete [or to] to sit on the players’ benches during such contests.” These penalties did not apply to tournament play, but UNC was already ineligible for such games as they were serving one year probation due to recruiting violations.

Observation of ACC Commissioner Weaver. From Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: William Brantley Aycock Records, 1957-1964 (#40020), University Archives

In addition to documenting the storied animosity between UNC and Duke, this incident is noteworthy for including several notable figures. In the years since, Larry Brown has coached 13 college and professional basketball teams and has won both NCAA and NBA championships. Brown was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and is currently the head coach of Southern Methodist University’s men’s basketball team, the Mustangs. The second UNC player suspended due to the fight, Don Walsh, has served as head coach of the Denver Nuggets, general manager and president of basketball operations of the Indiana Pacers, president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks, and is currently a consultant for the Pacers. Heyman went on to be the first overall pick in the 1963 NBA draft and was selected by the New York Knicks.

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The Battle Challenge: Part Two

Ward_Flier_800-618x800Montgomery Ward Catalog Challenge, Part II
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015
5 p.m. Reception and viewing of materials | Lobby
5:30 p.m. Program | Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
Free and open to the public

Join us Tuesday evening for the final installment of the Kemp Plummer Battle Montgomery Ward Catalog Challenge, a program set in motion 100 years ago.

In 1915, former UNC president Kemp Plummer Battle presented the North Carolina Historical Society with a metal box containing a current Montgomery Ward catalog and a letter outlining a challenge – the box was to be opened in 1965 and in 2015, and the catalog compared to one from the present day. Back in April, we held the first installment of this challenge, which featured talks from UNC professors John Kasson and Dana McMahan. Tuesday evening, the discussion continues with talks from professors Peter Coclanis and Lee Craig.

Fitz Brundage, chair of the Department of History at UNC, will introduce the program. Special guest John Baumann, President and CEO of Colony Brands, which owns and operates Montgomery Ward catalog and online retailer, will also make brief remarks on the topic “Montgomery Ward Today.”

In preparation for the event, the 1915 and 1965 Montgomery Ward catalogs and Robert B. House’s 1965 essay have been digitized and are available online.

We hope you’ll join us Tuesday for the finale of this 100-year challenge!




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“A Carolina Lady:” Navigating Campus Rules for Women in 1958

The Women's Honor Council for the 1958-1959 academic year. From the 1959 Yackety Yack,

The Women’s Honor Council for the 1958-1959 academic year. From the 1959 Yackety Yack,

When new women students arrived on campus in the fall of 1958, their orientation likely included advice on many topics familiar to today’s students. But they also received an introduction to something else — the complicated and often confusing set of rules that governed women’s lives on campus.

In 1958, there were 1,320 women students at UNC Chapel Hill — about 19% of the student population. It was five years before the University would admit women students without consideration of their intended major and residence and 14 years before the passage of Title IX, which banned sex discrimination in federally-funded education.

Rules for women enrolled at UNC included strict curfews and guidelines for dress and behavior in campus spaces, and were often subject to interpretation. At an orientation for women students in 1958, Women’s Honor Council chair Nancy Adams gave advice for avoiding violations of the code, explaining what it meant to be “a Carolina Lady.”

Advice for first year women students, 1958. From the Office of the Dean of Women Records (#40125), University Archives.

Advice for first year women students, 1958. From the Office of the Dean of Women Records (#40125), University Archives.


In 1962, Adams returned to UNC as Assistant Dean of Women. After three years in that position, she turned her attention to activism, advocating for civil rights and American withdrawal from Vietnam.

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Graffiti on Silent Sam: 1968 and 2015

Last weekend,”Silent Sam,” the Confederate memorial located on McCorkle Place, was spray painted with “KKK,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Murderer” with an arrow pointing to the Confederate soldier above. The monument was covered before being cleaned a few days later.

The incident highlights Silent Sam’s place in the ongoing discussion of race, campus landmarks and spaces, and university history. It also reflects the renewed push against the display of Confederate symbols since the racially-motivated attack in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17.

However, while the action was timely given these current contexts, it isn’t a first. Most strikingly, in early April 1968, as the country was gripped by grief and unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Silent Sam was splashed with red paint and its base covered with words and symbols.




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Electing a President: 85 Years Ago Today

Yearbook dedication to Frank Porter Graham, 1931. From the Yackety Yack, DigitalNC.

Yearbook dedication to Frank Porter Graham, 1931. From the Yackety Yack, DigitalNC.

Eighty-five years ago today on June 9, 1930, Frank Porter Graham was elected president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

According to the minutes of the Board of Trustees:

Mr. A.H. Graham, Chairman of the Fact-finding Committee appointed at the meeting on March 4, 1930, to investigate the availability of a new president for the University, made a very comprehensive report. He laid before the Board the names of the following ten persons, any one of whom, in the opinion of the committee, would make a satisfactory president: H.G. Baity, R.D.W. Connor, Frank P. Graham, R.B. House, Archibald Henderson, Louis R. Wilson, all of the University faculty, Ivey Lewis, of the University of Virginia, Howard Dement, of the Asheville School for Boys, Skelton Phelps, of Peabody College and John L. McConnaughy, of Connecticut Wesleyan.

Four ballots were taken, in which professors R.D.W. Connor and Graham took the lead. In the end, Graham won with 47 of 82 votes. The minutes continue:

Mr. Frank P. Graham having received a majority of the votes cast was declared elected president of the University. Mr. Daniels moved to make his election unanimous which was carried.

Governor Morrison moved that a committee of three be appointed to notify the new President of his election and bring him before the Board. Seconded and carried, the following committee being appointed: Messrs. Morrison, Daniels, and John J. Parker.

Judge Biggs moved that the salary of the new President be the same as that received by retiring President Chase. Carried.

President-elect Graham being presented to the Board was visibly overcome with emotion at the honor conferred upon him. After a moment of silence he announced that “with your help and with the help of God I accept the Presidency of the University.”

A brief recess was taken in order that the trustees might congratulate the new President.

Board of Trustees Minutes, June 9, 1930. From the Records of the Board of Trustees (#40001), University Archives, Wilson Library.

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University Archives in Action: Renaming Saunders Hall

Today the Board of Trustees voted 10 to 3 to rename Saunders Hall “Carolina Hall.” For those who’ve been under a rock for the past few years, the charge to change the name of Saunders Hall, which was named by trustees in 1920 after William Saunders (1835–1891), North Carolina Secretary of State and chief organizer of the Ku Klux Klan in the state, has been led by various student groups over the past two decades, most recently the Real Silent Same Coalition along with the Campus Y and other student groups.

Saunders’s involvement in the KKK was not ancillary to the decision to name the new building after him, but as seen in the minutes of the Board of Trustees, was indeed central. (You can read the minute books online.)


Minutes, Oversize Volume SV-40001/12 (p. 234), in the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records #40001, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

University Archives staff worked diligently to rediscover this information and provide it to trustees and to the public at large. It is gratifying to know that the (not always easy or recognized) work of collecting, describing, and preserving these materials played a part in energizing students and swaying the board.

We at Wilson Library work very hard to make primary information about the university available to the public, including online exhibits such as “Slavery and the Making of the University,” one of the first exhibits of its kind. We don’t need a mandate to do all we can to make university history public.

We depend on scholars and students to tell the story of the university. We just don’t have the time to read every sheet of paper that comes into our custody. Our job is to collect enough that our researchers have rich and inclusive documentation to work from and to describe it all in a way that gets that material into the hands of researchers as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in any aspect of university history, you can always come to Wilson Library and talk to a reference archivist to get access to the collections that might satisfy your curiosity.

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Disorder in Old West: the Student Riot of August, 1850

Charles Phillips

Charles Phillips

On the night of August 13, 1850, Charles Phillips, then a tutor of mathematics, heard “loud vociferations, high words, as of persons quarrelling, and other noises” coming from Old West (then known as West Building). As he went to investigate the disturbance, he could not have anticipated that the evening would end with him and a colleague cornered in a dorm room, fending off rioting students.

In his first sweep of West Building, Phillips found most of the students quiet in their rooms, but heard and saw students yelling and throwing stones at each other outside. He ran into his colleague Dr. Elisha Mitchell in the hallway, and they continued the investigation. In one room, the professors found “great disorder—the beds rumbled, the chairs in confusion, the floor very wet, and the remains of a stone vessel scattered up on it.” They found a nearly empty jug of whisky under the bed.

Elisha Mitchell

Elisha Mitchell

Upon leaving West, the professors encountered Manuel Fetter, professor of Greek language and literature, and retreated to the Laboratory to discuss the situation. However, as they left the Laboratory, they were immediately attacked. Phillips recalled:

Because of the vollies of stones which swept the passage I kept close to its northern wall, and looking through the opening that leads to the front door of the building I noticed a group of persons standing before the door. Immediately a volley of stones (or bats) entered, and a person passed me quickly accompanied by another volley. On speaking to him, I recognized Prof. Fetter who told me that he had been violently struck on the hand and leg. So violent was one of the blows that his cane was knocked to a distance from his hand.

Manuel Fetter

Manuel Fetter

When they eventually made their way back to West Building, they were met by more rowdy students, some disguised with blankets or fencing masks. As some students escaped through the windows, others began lobbing stones and sticks at the professors. The professors barricaded themselves in a student’s room, but the rioters continued their attack, knocking out a panel of the door. Phillips explained:

Discovering our exact position [in the room], those outside endeavoured to hit us by throwing obliquely into the room through the door and windows, and by introducing their hands so as to throw sideways directly at us. One individual introduced through a window, a stick two or three feet long and of the size of one’s wrist, evidently intending to swing it around and so strike us. As missiles were still entering the room, and our present was the only safe position, I immediately seized a chair and as an act of self defence urgently necessary, threw it in the direction of the concealed assailant. This act rendered the students outside much more excited, and threats of great violence, even to the getting our heart’s blood, were uttered for our striking a student.

After about an hour, a student, J.J. Slade, was able to reason with the rioters and escort the professors out on the condition that they leave campus immediately. The professors left and reported the night’s events to the president. They returned later that night with several other faculty members and searched the residence halls, but the disorder had subsided and most students were asleep in their beds.

The student who had come through the window with a club (and subsequently been hit by a chair) was expelled, but most students involved in the riot were not identified.


Charles Phillips’ testimony on the events of August 13, 1850. From the University Papers (#40005), University Archives, Wilson Library.


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The Cost of College: An Issue Then and Now

In recent times, the volcano of American student loan debt has been casting a tall and ominous shadow over the neatly trimmed lawns of American universities. Like a room of frantic volcanologists in the opening scenes of a disaster film, voices from across the country have forecast a cataclysmic eruption of student loan debt due to the exponential increase in the cost of attending college.

But, like all volcanoes, the rising cost of higher education did not become a problem overnight. Below are some insights on the issue given roughly half a century ago by former UNC President, William C. Friday, during a Board of Trustees Meeting on February 25, 1963, regarding raising tuition to fund the construction of new dormitories:

Bill Friday, 1962. From the  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive, Wilson Library.

Bill Friday, 1962. From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive, Wilson Library.

I feel I must point to the full significance of the continuing inflationary trend in the cost of going to college […] But it is a certainty that a public state university goes against one of the cardinal principles of its constitution if it shifts a disproportionate percentage of cost to the individual student. It should never be that the effective criterion of admissibility to the state university becomes a test of financial means. We are tending that way, and every increment of cost aggravates the tendency [….]

Building on this idea, President Friday makes the observation that:

State-supported institutions are erected and maintained by the public for the purpose of making higher education accessible to the rank and file of citizens. To perform this function, they must keep the doors open to students of all economic classes. Already, I fear, we have reached the point in the threefold University where many students, upon learning the cost of tuition and fees, room and board, and books and other essentials, immediately conclude that the state University is becoming too expensive too attend.

Tuition rates have continued to rise in the years since, and in 1982, Bill Friday again raised the alarm over America’s student loan crisis. According to the 1962-1963 UNC Chapel Hill catalog, the in-state tuition of a full-time undergraduate student during the 1962-1963 academic year was $87.50 per semester (adjusting for inflation, equivalent to $671.18 today). For the academic year of 2014-2015, a semester’s tuition for the same student would be $3211.50.

When faced with these numbers, one may wonder: will higher education as a whole suffer the same fate as Pompeii? Only time will tell. All that can be said for certain is that if the eruption does happen, the resulting explosion won’t be as abrupt as the one that shook Rome long ago. As William C. Friday confirmed 50 years ago, the student loan problem is a volcano that has been quietly erupting one undramatic day at a time.

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