Old West Hall: A View Changes With Time

It could have been the result of damage from hurricane Florence or tropical storm Michael.  Maybe it was just (extreme) old age. During the week of October 21, UNC Grounds Crew felled one of the most consistently photographed trees on UNC’s campus. Don’t worry… the Davie Poplar is fine… Another tree, not as prominent or […]

It could have been the result of damage from hurricane Florence or tropical storm Michael.  Maybe it was just (extreme) old age.

During the week of October 21, UNC Grounds Crew felled one of the most consistently photographed trees on UNC’s campus.

Don’t worry… the Davie Poplar is fine…

Another tree, not as prominent or easily identified as a landmark on campus as the Davie Poplar, a majestic Post Oak that was a fixture in images of Old West Hall (when photographed from the north side looking to towards South Building), was cut down.

The tree was there when Old West was constructed in 1823 and appears in the first images in the University’s possession of the building, dating from the 1880s-1890s.

In 2005 the (UNC) Chancellors Buildings and Ground Committee approved a report from the Task Force on Landscape Heritage & Plant Diversity.

In that report the committee identified and described it as:

“(Heritage Tree #) 74. Quercus stellata (Post Oak) — an impressive specimen.”

Close up of page from 2005 UNC report on heritage trees and plant diversity.

A rendering of a tree appears to be in the same location on the north side of Old West in this early engraving by W.  Roberts from a drawing by William Momberger of the University campus as it appeared circa 1855 (Old West is right side of illustration).

P0004/0162: Campus view: Engraving by W. Roberts (facsimile), 1855

 

Circa 1880s-1890s:

P0004/0393: Old West Hall and New West Hall, circa 1880s-1890s; North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive

It was difficult to get a “long-view” of the west face of the building AND include the Old Well…. without capturing “Tree 74” in the image.

Circa 1880s-1890s

P0004/0393: Old West and Gerrard Hall, circa 1880s-1890s; North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive

Circa 1940s

P0004/0393: Old West, circa 1940s; North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive

On October 23, 2018 this is what remained of “(Heritage Tree #) 74. Quercus stellata (Post Oak) — an impressive specimen.”

(Images by Patrick Cullom)

North side of Old West looking east. Stump of Tree 74 is at the far left side of image.

View of stump of Tree 74 (North of Old West).

View of stump of Tree 74 with timeline of approximate age/size of tree indicated. (Timeline is from unverified source)

View of stump of Tree 74 (North side of Old West).

All historical views from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection Collection #P0004

Artifact of the Month: Nurse Cape

Did you know that the design of the nurse’s uniform evolved from the nun’s habit? At one time the convent was a common place for the sick to receive care, and the nuns did the nursing. The cape was a standard part of the nurse’s apparel, a practice that endured into the 1980s. Our recently […]


Did you know that the design of the nurse’s uniform evolved from the nun’s habit? At one time the convent was a common place for the sick to receive care, and the nuns did the nursing.

The cape was a standard part of the nurse’s apparel, a practice that endured into the 1980s. Our recently donated cape was worn by Nancy Hege Paar, a member of the UNC School of Nursing’s fifth class of Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates in 1959. Like many such capes, it is gray and mid-length. It appears to be made of wool, including the lining. The lining is a blue-gray, perhaps the closest match to Carolina Blue available from the Snowhite Garment Sales Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The initials “U. N. C.” on the collar further brand the cape.

Photo of Nancy Hege from 1959 Yackety Yack

Nancy Hege, 1959 Yackety Yack

The nurse’s cap was originally employed to keep a nurse’s hair neatly in place and to present a modest and orderly appearance. In the latter part of the 19th century, the form of the cap evolved to signify a nurse’s school. The cap became a symbol of the profession, often shrinking to be a token rather than a functional piece of clothing.

Today, both cape and cap are less common components of a nurse’s apparel. Scrubs have replaced them, providing a unisex uniform for both women and the increasing number of men in the profession.

Photo of UNC Nursing students, 1959

UNC School of Nursing students, 1959. From the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

Artifact of the Month: Nurse Cape

Did you know that the design of the nurse’s uniform evolved from the nun’s habit? At one time the convent was a common place for the sick to receive care, and the nuns did the nursing. The cape was a standard part of the nurse’s apparel, a practice that endured into the 1980s. Our recently […]


Did you know that the design of the nurse’s uniform evolved from the nun’s habit? At one time the convent was a common place for the sick to receive care, and the nuns did the nursing.

The cape was a standard part of the nurse’s apparel, a practice that endured into the 1980s. Our recently donated cape was worn by Nancy Hege Paar, a member of the UNC School of Nursing’s fifth class of Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates in 1959. Like many such capes, it is gray and mid-length. It appears to be made of wool, including the lining. The lining is a blue-gray, perhaps the closest match to Carolina Blue available from the Snowhite Garment Sales Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The initials “U. N. C.” on the collar further brand the cape.

Photo of Nancy Hege from 1959 Yackety Yack

Nancy Hege, 1959 Yackety Yack

The nurse’s cap was originally employed to keep a nurse’s hair neatly in place and to present a modest and orderly appearance. In the latter part of the 19th century, the form of the cap evolved to signify a nurse’s school. The cap became a symbol of the profession, often shrinking to be a token rather than a functional piece of clothing.

Today, both cape and cap are less common components of a nurse’s apparel. Scrubs have replaced them, providing a unisex uniform for both women and the increasing number of men in the profession.

Photo of UNC Nursing students, 1959

UNC School of Nursing students, 1959. From the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

A Belated Happy 100th to JFK

We’re a day late in marking the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. But, on the principle of better late than never (that’s always been my view on gift giving and receipt), North Carolina Miscellany and its sister blog A View to Hugh share with you images of the 35th President. Many of the […]

We’re a day late in marking the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. But, on the principle of better late than never (that’s always been my view on gift giving and receipt), North Carolina Miscellany and its sister blog A View to Hugh share with you images of the 35th President.

Many of the North Carolina Collection’s images of Kennedy are found in the Hugh Morton Collection. Morton, less than four years younger than JFK, photographed Kennedy on several occasions. The photo above features Kennedy, at the time a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, addressing the North Carolina Caucus at the 1956 Democratic National Convention.

In 1961, as President, Kennedy visited Chapel Hill and spoke at UNC’s University Day celebration in Kenan Stadium. Morton was among the photographers who snapped photographs that day.

The North Carolina Collection’s photographic archivist, Stephen Fletcher, has shared the stories behind some of Morton’s photographs of Kennedy on A View to Hugh.

The North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives includes the works of other photographers who captured Kennedy on film. Burlington Times-News staff photographer Edward J. McCauley covered a Kennedy campaign appearance in Greensboro in 1960. The future president appeared with Terry Sanford (to his left and campaigning for Governor), Governor Luther H. Hodges and Senator Sam J. Ervin.

Photographs of Kennedy and his 1960 Presidential campaign opponent Richard Nixon helped the Charlotte Observer‘s Don Sturkey win recognition as National Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1961. In the photo below Kennedy is joined by U.S. Congressman Herbert C. Bonner and Sanford on a campaign stop at East Carolina University in Greenville.

Copyright is held by Don Sturkey. All use requires permission of Don Sturkey.

Word has it that our collections may include images of Kennedy captured by different photographers at the same event. One photographer may have even included another photographer in his shot. That’s for you to verify. Happy hunting!

A Belated Happy 100th to JFK

We’re a day late in marking the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. But, on the principle of better late than never (that’s always been my view on gift giving and receipt), North Carolina Miscellany and its sister blog A View to Hugh share with you images of the 35th President. Many of the […]

We’re a day late in marking the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. But, on the principle of better late than never (that’s always been my view on gift giving and receipt), North Carolina Miscellany and its sister blog A View to Hugh share with you images of the 35th President.

Many of the North Carolina Collection’s images of Kennedy are found in the Hugh Morton Collection. Morton, less than four years younger than JFK, photographed Kennedy on several occasions. The photo above features Kennedy, at the time a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, addressing the North Carolina Caucus at the 1956 Democratic National Convention.

In 1961, as President, Kennedy visited Chapel Hill and spoke at UNC’s University Day celebration in Kenan Stadium. Morton was among the photographers who snapped photographs that day.

The North Carolina Collection’s photographic archivist, Stephen Fletcher, has shared the stories behind some of Morton’s photographs of Kennedy on A View to Hugh.

The North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives includes the works of other photographers who captured Kennedy on film. Burlington Times-News staff photographer Edward J. McCauley covered a Kennedy campaign appearance in Greensboro in 1960. The future president appeared with Terry Sanford (to his left and campaigning for Governor), Governor Luther H. Hodges and Senator Sam J. Ervin.

Photographs of Kennedy and his 1960 Presidential campaign opponent Richard Nixon helped the Charlotte Observer‘s Don Sturkey win recognition as National Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1961. In the photo below Kennedy is joined by U.S. Congressman Herbert C. Bonner and Sanford on a campaign stop at East Carolina University in Greenville.

Copyright is held by Don Sturkey. All use requires permission of Don Sturkey.

Word has it that our collections may include images of Kennedy captured by different photographers at the same event. One photographer may have even included another photographer in his shot. That’s for you to verify. Happy hunting!

First Black Female FBI Agent was UNC-Chapel Hill Alumna

The Carolina Times, February 21, 1976
The Carolina Times, February 21, 1976

The first black woman FBI agent in the United States was UNC-Chapel Hill’s Sylvia Elizabeth Mathis (J.D., 1975). Hers was a life framed by a commitment to service, a dedication to family, and marked by numerous accomplishments.

In May 1975, Mathis graduated from UNC School of Law and soon thereafter passed the North Carolina Bar. But her accomplishments did not start or stop there; before her time in Chapel Hill, Mathis had also attended Fisk (1968-69) and then New York University (1969-72), where she received a Bachelor’s in Political Science. Right after law school, she stayed in North Carolina and worked for the Department of Cultural Resources.

At age 26, Mathis became the first black female FBI agent, beginning her training at Quantico in February 1976. She was also the very first female agent recruited in the state of North Carolina. At the time, only 41 agents out of a total of 8,500 in the country were women. Quoted in the February 7, 1976 issue of the Virginian Pilot newspaper, Mathis explained, “…I am interested in delving into the relation of defending of rights and enforcement of rights. Going into the FBI seemed like a natural step.”

Mathis was assigned to the New York office of the FBI where she worked as a special agent and then as an advisor to the Office of Legal Counsel (1979-80). She then returned to Jacksonville, Florida to care for her parents in 1982. Accounts vary as to whether Mathis was a Florida or North Carolina native, but while the family may have had Durham connections, Jacksonville was where her parents had called home for many years, and Sylvia had attended Bishop Kenny High School in the city.

Just the next year, in 1983, Sylvia’s life was tragically cut short by a car accident at age 34. At the time of her death, she worked as the Director of the Jacksonville Downtown Ecumenical Service Council, providing support to homeless and unemployed residents of the city. Shortly before her death, she was awarded “Ms. Metro” by the Jacksonville weekly newspaper, The Metropolis. A volunteer who worked with Mathis was quoted in the October 19, 1983 issue of the paper that, “She is a very caring person and has given a lot of her time to those who need help.” In a 1984 letter to the UNC publication University Report, Law School professor James B. Craven III remembered that she was a “rare and unforgettable” student, that he “was always proud of her and miss her now.”

“As Close to Magic as I’ve Ever Been”: Thomas Wolfe at Chapel Hill

One hundred years ago today the tall, rather awkward, not quite yet sixteen-year-old Thomas Clayton Wolfe boarded an early morning train in Asheville bound for Durham. There he was met by his brother-in-law who drove him the twelve miles over to Chapel Hill to enroll at the University of North Carolina. Wolfe had longed to […]

Image of Thomas Wolfe smoking a pipe. The photo reportedly shows him during his senior year at UNC.

Thomas Wolfe during his senior year.

One hundred years ago today the tall, rather awkward, not quite yet sixteen-year-old Thomas Clayton Wolfe boarded an early morning train in Asheville bound for Durham. There he was met by his brother-in-law who drove him the twelve miles over to Chapel Hill to enroll at the University of North Carolina. Wolfe had longed to attend the University of Virginia. But his father had insisted he go to Chapel Hill, foreseeing a possible legal career and future in politics for his youngest child. Once at Chapel Hill, however, Tom quickly dove into both coursework and campus activities with a passion and focus that quickly made him among the most prominent and popular students on campus.

Upon arrival in Chapel Hill, Tom signed up for room and board at the three-story rooming house of Mrs. Mattie Eva Hardee, a widow originally from Asheville–$15 a month for board and $7.50 for a student’s half of a room. Writing to his brother-in-law a few days later, he declared the food “splendid” but the room rent “exorbitant.” His professors were “all fine fellows” for whom he hoped to “do well in all my studies and my guess is that I’ll have to ‘bone’ up on math.”

During the next four years, Wolfe would do well in his studies—as a junior winning the prize in philosophy for best student thesis and earning multiple A’s that same year from favorite professors Edwin Greenlaw in English, Frederick Koch in dramatic literature, and Horace Williams in philosophy. His achievements in student publications and as a leader of campus organizations were equally outstanding—assistant editor, then managing editor, and finally editor-in-chief of the Tar Heel student newspaper; assistant editor, then assistant editor-in-chief of the University Magazine; associate editor of the Yackety Yack yearbook; member of student council; author of and sometimes actor in plays performed by the campus Carolina Playmakers campus theater company; and class poet.

After graduating from UNC in 1920, Wolfe studied playwriting at Harvard, then moved to New York where he initially did some teaching at New York University. But soon he turned his legendary intellectual energy and passion to fiction writing. In 1929 his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published, winning wide praise among literary critics and creating a sensation because of the thinly-veiled autobiographical nature of the book. The life and experiences of the book’s protagonist, Eugene Gant, are often unmistakably similar to those of Thomas Wolfe. In Look Homeward, Angel, however, young Gant attends the state university at Pulpit Hill, not Chapel Hill. But the sense of adventure, excitement, and intellectual stimulation he experienced there as described in Look Homeward, Angel, echo loudly the fond memories of Thomas Wolfe for a place and time he would later describe as being “as close to magic as I’ve ever been.”

“As Close to Magic as I’ve Ever Been”: Thomas Wolfe at Chapel Hill

One hundred years ago today the tall, rather awkward, not quite yet sixteen-year-old Thomas Clayton Wolfe boarded an early morning train in Asheville bound for Durham. There he was met by his brother-in-law who drove him the twelve miles over to Chapel Hill to enroll at the University of North Carolina. Wolfe had longed to […]

Image of Thomas Wolfe smoking a pipe. The photo reportedly shows him during his senior year at UNC.

Thomas Wolfe during his senior year.

One hundred years ago today the tall, rather awkward, not quite yet sixteen-year-old Thomas Clayton Wolfe boarded an early morning train in Asheville bound for Durham. There he was met by his brother-in-law who drove him the twelve miles over to Chapel Hill to enroll at the University of North Carolina. Wolfe had longed to attend the University of Virginia. But his father had insisted he go to Chapel Hill, foreseeing a possible legal career and future in politics for his youngest child. Once at Chapel Hill, however, Tom quickly dove into both coursework and campus activities with a passion and focus that quickly made him among the most prominent and popular students on campus.

Upon arrival in Chapel Hill, Tom signed up for room and board at the three-story rooming house of Mrs. Mattie Eva Hardee, a widow originally from Asheville–$15 a month for board and $7.50 for a student’s half of a room. Writing to his brother-in-law a few days later, he declared the food “splendid” but the room rent “exorbitant.” His professors were “all fine fellows” for whom he hoped to “do well in all my studies and my guess is that I’ll have to ‘bone’ up on math.”

During the next four years, Wolfe would do well in his studies—as a junior winning the prize in philosophy for best student thesis and earning multiple A’s that same year from favorite professors Edwin Greenlaw in English, Frederick Koch in dramatic literature, and Horace Williams in philosophy. His achievements in student publications and as a leader of campus organizations were equally outstanding—assistant editor, then managing editor, and finally editor-in-chief of the Tar Heel student newspaper; assistant editor, then assistant editor-in-chief of the University Magazine; associate editor of the Yackety Yack yearbook; member of student council; author of and sometimes actor in plays performed by the campus Carolina Playmakers campus theater company; and class poet.

After graduating from UNC in 1920, Wolfe studied playwriting at Harvard, then moved to New York where he initially did some teaching at New York University. But soon he turned his legendary intellectual energy and passion to fiction writing. In 1929 his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published, winning wide praise among literary critics and creating a sensation because of the thinly-veiled autobiographical nature of the book. The life and experiences of the book’s protagonist, Eugene Gant, are often unmistakably similar to those of Thomas Wolfe. In Look Homeward, Angel, however, young Gant attends the state university at Pulpit Hill, not Chapel Hill. But the sense of adventure, excitement, and intellectual stimulation he experienced there as described in Look Homeward, Angel, echo loudly the fond memories of Thomas Wolfe for a place and time he would later describe as being “as close to magic as I’ve ever been.”

N.C. Digital Heritage Center Celebrates a Milestone

If your web browsing has included perusal of yearbooks or newspapers from North Carolina colleges and universities, then you likely have seen the work of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Its mission includes scanning and publishing online materials from cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. The center and its hardworking staff are headquartered in […]

ncdhcinvite_header-cropped

If your web browsing has included perusal of yearbooks or newspapers from North Carolina colleges and universities, then you likely have seen the work of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Its mission includes scanning and publishing online materials from cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. The center and its hardworking staff are headquartered in Wilson Library, here in Chapel Hill. And this month the Digital Heritage Center is celebrating a milestone. It just added its 200th partner institution. And those partners extend across 119 communities in 73 counties.

A big congratulations to the Digital Heritage Center. Its interim director, Lisa Gregory, is rightfully proud of the work that the center has accomplished since opening its doors in 2009.

N.C. Digital Heritage Center Celebrates a Milestone

If your web browsing has included perusal of yearbooks or newspapers from North Carolina colleges and universities, then you likely have seen the work of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Its mission includes scanning and publishing online materials from cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. The center and its hardworking staff are headquartered in […]

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If your web browsing has included perusal of yearbooks or newspapers from North Carolina colleges and universities, then you likely have seen the work of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Its mission includes scanning and publishing online materials from cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. The center and its hardworking staff are headquartered in Wilson Library, here in Chapel Hill. And this month the Digital Heritage Center is celebrating a milestone. It just added its 200th partner institution. And those partners extend across 119 communities in 73 counties.

A big congratulations to the Digital Heritage Center. Its interim director, Lisa Gregory, is rightfully proud of the work that the center has accomplished since opening its doors in 2009.