“I don’t know what he means unless it was the bell ringing or the fireball.”

John Stronach's letter to his father, responding to President Battle's accusations of bad behavior.

John Stronach’s letter to his father, responding to President Battle’s accusations of bad behavior. (University of North Carolina Papers #40005, University Archives)

If you’re looking for someone to help you plan an April Fool’s Day prank, look no further than John B. Stronach, class of 1893. President of the Eating Club (“Record, 31 bananas in 13 ¾ minutes,” according to the 1890 Hellenian), and member of both the “Gunning Club” and “Whist Club,” the Raleigh native seems to have had a knack for getting into trouble.  

In February, 1890, UNC President Kemp Battle wrote to John Stronach’s father, W.C. Stronach, concerned about the young student’s behavior. His shocked and dismayed father responded immediately to President Battle, enclosing his son’s own version of events (transcribed in full below).

March 2, 1890
Dear Father,

I am very sorry indeed that Dr. Battle had to write to you about me, but think he has it a little larger than it was. I will tell you just how it is and what I did. You remember when I told you about my shooting the gun, ever since then every thing that is done he calls me up. Once again, I was beating on a tin tub in my room and Prof. Cain came in and asked me to stop. Those two times are the only ones that I have been caught and about the only times I have done anything again. The night some boys wrung [sic] the bell,  I was in my room and did not even go out again. He had me up. Thursday night a crowd of boys wrung [sic] the bell and made a ball of fire and went around to scare the boys by turning it around before the windows and crying fire. I was down town in Lee Woodard’s room when they made the ball. I came up in a little while and went around to see the fire but did not touch it. I hollered as everybody else did and this is about all I have done as for the late at night, etc. I don’t know what he means unless it was the bell ringing or the fire ball.

Mike is coming down Thursday or Friday and will come to see you. I am very sorry that I have caused you so much trouble and hope that you will see that it is not as bad as Dr. Battle makes it out. I hope mother will not be very sick and is even now better. Doctor as [sic] been very sick for the last three or four days with his temper but is very much better today.
Give love to every.
Your loveing [sic] son,
Jno. B. Stronach


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Caption Contest Winner!

And we have a winner, folks!  Thank you to everyone who submitted captions for our latest Caption This! contest and to everyone who voted for their favorite.

This round’s winner was Matthew Farrell, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus!  Congrats Matthew!

Ambiguously worded dress codes lead to all sorts of problems...

Ambiguously worded dress codes lead to all sorts of problems…

Stay tuned for our next round of Caption This! in the coming weeks!

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Caption This! Vote For Your Favorite!

Thank you everyone for your submissions to our latest caption contest! We had a ball reading all of the captions! Now it’s time for you to vote for your favorite. We’ll announce the winner next week!

Click on the captioned photographs to view larger images.

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Happy 120th birthday, Paul Green!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so lots of people are wearing green. But at UNC, we’re celebrating another kind of Green—playwright Paul Green, who was born 120 years ago today.


Author  Paul Green (from the UNC Press Records, #40073, University Archives).

Paul Green, born in Lillington, North Carolina, enrolled at UNC in 1916. However, his academic career was interrupted by World War I—he enlisted in 1917 and served overseas before returning to UNC in 1919. During his time at UNC, he was a student of Fredrick Koch, the head of the UNC Department of Dramatic Arts and the founder of the Carolina Playmakers. He graduated in 1922 with a degree in philosophy. The same year, he married a fellow student of Koch, Elizabeth Lay. In 1923, after his graduate studies, Green returned to UNC as a professor of philosophy.

During this time, Green published many acclaimed works, including In Abraham’s Bosom (1929), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The House of Connelly (1931) , Roll Sweet Chariot (1935), and Johnny Johnson (1937), which featured music by Kurt Weill. In 1941, he collaborated with Richard Wright to adapt Wright’s Native Son for the stage. Many of his works addressed themes of racism, and poverty, and war, reflecting his lifelong activism for human rights.


A scene from an early production of the Lost Colony in which Sir Walter Raleigh speaks with Queen Elizabeth I (from the UNC Press Records, #40073, University Archives).

While Green’s work was well-received on New York stages, one of his greatest contributions to American theatre happened far from Broadway. In 1937, he published The Lost Colony, a “symphonic drama” about the ill-fated Roanoke Island Colony to be performed on the island itself, off the coast of North Carolina. The play, first performed in 1937 as part of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of Virginia Dare’s birth, is still running today. Having only suspended production during the years of World War II, it is the longest-running outdoor drama in the country. The Lost Colony established the genre of outdoor drama in the United States, and Green went on to write 14 more plays of this type.

From 1939 to 1944, Green worked as a professor of dramatic arts at UNC, then devoted himself solely to writing. His work includes not only plays but essays, short stories, screenplays, radio dramas, two novels, and music.

In 1968, UNC built the Paul Green Theatre, which is named in his honor.  In 1979, Green was named North Carolina Dramatist Laureate. After his death in 1981, Green was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame (1993) and the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame (1996), reflecting his impact on the literary world on both a national and local level.

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A Finding Aid for Web Archives

We started archiving websites in January 2013 through Archive-It, and now there is a finding aid for our harvested websites.  Our web archives are constantly growing, and we are working on expanding our archiving to YouTube and social media.

finding aid

We welcome your suggestions for UNC websites to harvest, please let us know in the comments!

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Dr. Tim McMillan on WUNC

If you missed Tim McMillan’s Black and Blue Tour this semester, which traces African American history at UNC, you can listen to Dr. McMillan speak with WUNC’s Phoebe Judge about the origins of and controversies surrounding some of the monuments on campus. Listen here.


The Unsung Founders Memorial, McCorkle Place



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UNC Students Call for Health Care Reform!

It’s not what you think. We are not discussing the Affordable Care Act or even paying for health care. This is a historical look at just one health care issue at Carolina. In the 1980s, the question for some students was not what they would pay for health care but whether or not they would receive it with equity.

From Box 1:1:15, Records of the Office of the Dean of the School of Medicine, #40118.

From Box 1:1:15, Records of the Office of the Dean of the School of Medicine, #40118.

In November of 1983, Brian Richmond wrote to the Daily Tar Heel to reprimand the School of Medicine for turning down the opportunity to offer a scholarship to medical students who had come out as gay or lesbian. Richmond, the acting director of the Sexuality Education & Counseling Service, condemned the decision because as a sex counselor on a college campus, he had come to realize how difficult it was for lesbians and gay men to find good doctors for a variety reasons including prejudice, misconceptions, malpractice, anti-gay laws, and fear of AIDS. Richmond believed that supporting gay men and lesbians in their pursuits to become health care providers would be a step in the right direction. In his letter, he called on the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dr. Stuart Bondurant, to work with the gay and lesbian community on his campus.

A student's letter expressing his willingness to serve on the Committee.  From Box 1:1:15, the Records of the Office of the Dean of the School of Medicine, #40118

A student’s letter expressing his willingness to serve on the Committee. From Box 1:1:15, the Records of the Office of the Dean of the School of Medicine, #40118

Dr. Bondurant stood by the decision not to offer a scholarship exclusively to gay and lesbian medical students, but he did acknowledge that the School of Medicine could better respond to the health care needs of gay and lesbian students. So, the idea for a Committee for Gay/Lesbian Health Concerns was born. The Committee would be composed of students, School of Medicine faculty, and Student Health Services staff. Due to scheduling conflicts in the Spring semester of 1984, however, the committee failed to meet and was put off until the following semester.

The next interaction we found between the School of Medicine and the gay and lesbian community occurred in 1985 when North Carolina’s Lesbian and Gay Health Project called upon the school to update their curriculum. The Project asked for health care issues unique to gay men and lesbians to be incorporated into study. The idea was to improve doctors’ understanding of health concerns particular to the homosexual community while dispelling common misconceptions.

So, long before the Affordable Care Act or the price of treatment, students have been concerned with health care services!

As a member of the Carolina community, what are your current health care concerns? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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Another Caption This! Contest

From the records of the Institute of Latin American Studies (#40089) comes this week’s funny photo and another opportunity for a Caption This! caption contest.

Department members got a behind-the-scenes visit with the actors of the Lost Colony.

Department members got a behind-the-scenes visit with the actors of the Lost Colony.

Leave us a note in the comments with your caption suggestion.  You can caption as many or as few of the gentlemen in the picture as you like, but be sure to give your man’s number so we know who you’re captioning! Like last time, we’ll hold a vote for the best captions!

Now let’s see what you’ve got!

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NARA’s Capstone Email Initiative: A Virtual Discussion

Last week, Electronic Records Archivist Meg Tuomala participated in a virtual discussion about the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Capstone Email Initiative, which gives guidance on a new way for federal agencies to manage email records. The discussion was led by Arian Ravanbakhsh and Beth Cron, both records management policy analysts in the Office of the Chief Records Officer at NARA.

The discussion was hosted by the Society of American ArchivistsRecords Management Roundtable, and a video recording is available here. Arian and Beth give a great overview of the Initiative and weigh-in on several questions and considerations surrounding it for not just federal agencies, but state governments, universities, and private organizations too.

If you’re at all interested in the records management side of UARMS’ work, we hope that you can take some time to view the recording.

UARMS is very interested in applying the Capstone method of capturing and archiving email of enduring value generated at UNC. As discussed in the recording and addressed in the Initiative, it’s not a perfect solution, but it could be a practical and real way for us to make strides towards preserving email– a format that has become integral to our work over the past 20 years and thus serves to document the history of the University in the 21st century.

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Caption Winner!

For a while, we had a tie between two excellent comments, but we now have a winner!

So that's what was on Billy's Brain!

So that’s what was on Billy’s Brain!

Thanks, Austin, for the great caption!  Thank you to all of our other contributors and everyone who voted!  With all of the hilarious options, it was a challenge to pick the best one!

Staff favorites were:

The true curse of Benjamin Button-ing is looking out of place among one’s peers.

Grandfather promised his friends would bring their granddaughters to this thing. #lies

I can’t wait to become a Tar Heel.

Keep a lookout for University Archives’ next caption contest! 

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