What’s with all the Backpacks?

If you’ve seen any publicity about the Community-Driven Archives grant, you’ve probably seen references to “the Backpacks.” One of the central initiatives for the CDA Team is transportable archiving kit that demystifies the technical jargon and supplies resources for communities. … Continue reading

If you’ve seen any publicity about the Community-Driven Archives grant, you’ve probably seen references to “the Backpacks.” One of the central initiatives for the CDA Team is transportable archiving kit that demystifies the technical jargon and supplies resources for communities. This has manifest as the “Archivist in a Backpack” and the slightly less catchy but equally important “Archivist in a Roller bag.” These are a simplified archive in an easily portable kit that we bring and mail to communities doing archival and cultural heritage projects. In April of this year, the online forum HyperAllergic published an article about our “Archivist in a Backpack” project. Since then, we have had an enormously positive response from people all over the world and I think the speed and reach of the backpacks has surprised us all. We’ve received numerous inquiries about the backpacks and our grant project in general. This might seem like a basic administrative detail, but when you consider that each inquiry has the potential to become a new resource and an introduction to dozens of new colleagues, it is no small feat in networking. While most of my conversations have been with people in the US, we’ve had interest all over the globe. From a member of a Canadian first Nation, to a library in New South Wales, an Archivist in the UK doing her own community work with immigrant Somalian communities and a theatre professional in Germany, something about the Backpack project has struck a chord. A version of the backpack has been used in Mexico with Yucatán Mayan students with materials being translated into Spanish and Yucatec Mayan. For more information about this project check out this National Geographic article!

 Sounds great, but why all the hoopla? Backpacks aren’t exactly cutting edge. I think it is the mix of the un-apologetically bright colors of the kits (though we do offer some more muted tones) and the awe that digging into a family or community’s past almost always elicits. But there are other components to the backpacks, not always mentioned in the emails. Social justice, commemoration, and community healing often feel like implicit threads of the conversations and the projects new colleagues talk about.

The backpacks look unimposing, but I think they represent something quite profound. The backpacks invite people to tell their histories so that the information can be put towards a larger purpose. The backpacks aren’t just about a walk down memory lane (as important as that is) but many of the people with whom I’m in contact have a mission that the archival resources are to be used in forwarding. Whether it’s about connecting generations in learning about the many iterations of civil rights, housing and preventing gentrification and displacement, or combating rampant minority stereotyping and erasure practices, the backpacks are an accessible way for communities to take control.  The initial emails show that many projects are just getting off the ground or are still in the early planning stages. It will be interesting to see what the results are for everyone, especially since we at CDA are right there with them. It’s a “figure-out-as-you-go”, one foot in front of the other kind of process, collaborating between institutions, communities, and newly-found colleagues. At least we can all have coordinating backpacks.

We post every week on different topics but if there is something you’d like to see, let us know either in the comments or email Claire our Community Outreach Coordinator: clairela@live.unc.edu.

Follow us on Twitter @SoHistColl_1930
#CommunityDrivenArchives #CDAT #SHC
#EKAAMP #HBTSA #ASHC #SAAACAM
#yourstory #ourhistory #community #AiaB

What is a Community Archive?

Community archives and other community-centric history, heritage, and memory projects work to empower communities to tell, protect, and share their history on their terms. In 2017, the Southern Historical Collection, a part of Wilson Library Special Collections, within UNC Libraries … Continue reading

Community archives and other community-centric history, heritage, and memory projects work to empower communities to tell, protect, and share their history on their terms. In 2017, the Southern Historical Collection, a part of Wilson Library Special Collections, within UNC Libraries in Chapel Hill was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a grant to “form meaningful, mutually supportive partnerships that provide communities with the tools and resources to safeguard and represent their own histories.”  We argue that “Community archive models and community-driven archival practice address the ‘symbolic annihilation’[to quote Michelle Caswell] of historically marginalized groups in the historical record, and aim to create sustainable and accessible memory projects that address these archival absences.”[1]

So what does it mean? A whole host of complex, complicated moving parts that if done right could transform the historical record! And it wouldn’t just be the grant funded community driven archives team (CDAT) doing it, but rather a true collaboration between the CDAT and communities to keep communities in control of their narratives.

Communities can preserve their history in a myriad of ways. They can keep records in  brick and mortar buildings like the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, or they can curate a digital archive like the South Asian American Digital Archive.[2]  Communal heritage or memory can be expressed through historic markers or murals, like the Portland Street Art Alliance’s “Keep on the Sunnyside Mural Project”[3] and through guided walking tours, such as those created by the Marian Cheek Jackson Center.[4] History and heritage can even be expressed through parades, commemorations, and community celebrations. In her article, “The records of memory, the archives of identity: Celebrations, texts and archival sensibilities” Jeannette A. Bastian notes,

the relationships between collective memory, records, community and identity as expressed through a particular celebration—a carnival— [is] located within the paradigm of a cultural archive. That paradigm theorizes that if an annual celebration can be considered as a longitudinal and complex cultural community expression, then it also can be seen dynamically as a living archive where the many events within the celebration constitute the numerous records comprising this expression.[5]

Community archival work can also be done in public libraries like the Queens Memory Project or with the support of universities like the SHC’s Community-Driven Archives project. We call our work community driven archiving because we take cues from community members on the best ways to support their memory work, we would not trample the long standing tradition of community owned and operated archives by co-opting their name.

We understand that working with communities to create archival, historical and heritage-based projects means grappling with complex issues of identity, ownership, and legacies of marginalization.  Community history has always been present; the community archives movement didn’t suddenly discover these histories.[6] We have a lot more to share about our perspective and experiences with community driven archival work, including its benefits and challenges for a large organization with a complex history like UNC Libraries. With this post we are signaling that boosting community voices in all their intersectional, diverse, complicated and creative outputs is a top priority in the Southern Historical Collection these days.

This is a model we created to help us visualize the relationship between traditional archival users and community-history creators. By changing the emphasis on who is being considered essential to the archives story, you can completely change the priorities.

We post every week on different topics but if there is something you’d like to see, let us know either in the comments or email Claire our Community Outreach Coordinator: clairela@live.unc.edu. 

Follow us on Twitter    #AiaB #yourstory #ourhistory #communityarchives #EKAAMP #HBTSA #SHC #SAAACAM #memory

[1] “About: Community-Driven Archives Overview,” https://library.unc.edu/wilson/shc/community-driven-archives/about/

[2] South Asian American Digital Archive, “SAADA”, https://www.saada.org/

[3] Portland Street Art Alliance, “Keep on the Sunnyside Mural Project”, http://www.pdxstreetart.org/articles-all/sunnyside-mural-project

[4] Marian Cheeks Jackson Center “Soundwalk of Northside,” https://jacksoncenter.info/northside-stories/soundwalk-of-northside/

[5] Jeannette A. Bastian, “The records of memory, the archives of identity: Celebrations, texts and archival sensibilities,” Archival Science, (2012), 122.

[6] Yusef Omowale, “We Already Here,” Medium: Sustainable Future, September 3, 2018, https://medium.com/community-archives/we-already-are-52438b863e31.

Community-Driven Archives

Hello and welcome to the Community-Driven Archive blog located on UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s site Southern Sources! On this blog, we, the Community-Driven Archives Team or CDAT for short, will talk about the work you see (like the “AiaB” Archivist in a Backpack) and … Continue reading

Hello and welcome to the Community-Driven Archive blog located on UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s site Southern Sources! On this blog, we, the Community-Driven Archives Team or CDAT for short, will talk about the work you see (like the “AiaB” Archivist in a Backpack) and some behind the scenes activities, such as discussions about funding, obstacles we’ve faced, the little victories, and aspects of community archives that don’t make it into the brochures. We hope that you find our posts engaging and thought-provoking, and this blog is for anyone and everyone. From archival and institutional practitioners to community members and everyone in between you are welcome here!

Community archives are complex and there are a lot of ways to talk about the different types of community history and memory practices. One common analogy is that of a garden. In a recent Letonica article, Director of the Southern Historical Collection Bryan Giemza notes,  

[there are] those who see the archive as analogous to a garden. Properly tended, it keeps growing, and the measure of its good is both in its sustainability and the measure of nourishment it provides. If food sustains the ability of a community to reinvent itself, which is necessary to the advancement of any civilization, an archive contains the cultural resources that provide the creative sustenance for the process.

Gardens offer a more accessible image of information and community materials; they are an epicenter of collaborative activity. Community champions break the ground and help prepare the foundation. Donors provide the seeds, while volunteers till the soil, water, and feed the new growth. Visitors, outsides and locals, consume the produce and have the seeds of inspiration planted in their own minds. The community can be nourished by the visibly of their work, and the tangible outcome it provides, be that an exhibit, a website, a history harvest, or series of oral history interviews. Community archives can be kept small and within the bounds of the planter or they can climb over the garden walls and expand outside anyone’s previous notions. These types of community archive-gardens are unique to each community and we at CDAT are excited to share our experiences and hear about the work of others! 

We post every week on different topics but if there is something you’d like to see, let us know either in the comments or email Claire our Community Outreach Coordinator: clairela@live.unc.edu. 

Follow us on Twitter    #AiaB #yourstory #ourhistory #communityarchives #EKAAMP #HBTSA #SHC #SAAACAM #gardenarchives

EKAAMP Garden

This image is from one of our pilot projects, the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project, or EKAAMP. Gardens feature heavily in our jargon and our work as you can see!

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.”

James K. Polk: 19th Century Student Activist?

Was there such a thing as student activism in the 19th century? If so, what form did this activism take? An article in the Daily Tar Heel, published December 5, 1967, asserts that one of UNC’s most famous alums, United States President James Knox Polk, led a “rebellion” in 1816 among the students that culminated with the resignation of the University’s president at the time, Robert Hett Chapman. The title states, “U.S. President Was Campus Activist.”

The_Daily_Tar_Heel_Tue__Dec_5__1967_
page 5, 12/5/1967, Daily Tar Heel

What is true is that an actual student uprising against the faculty did take place, and it not only led to the ousting of Chapman, but also to the expulsion of the leader of said rebellion. What is false is that Polk led it, although he may very well have been present and subsequently inspired by the cause. This September 1816 event has been written about in numerous histories, however the misleading newspaper headline regarding Polk’s role requires clarification of who did what, but more importantly, presents an opportunity to revisit what was a fascinating chain of events at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Although Polk was on campus at that time, having enrolled as a sophomore in spring 1816, the “leader” of the September 18, 1816 “uprising” was actually a student by the name of William Biddle Shepard. As Battle states in his history of the university, he gave a speech without approval, and the next day he was suspended for 6 months. Shepard, the future congressman, eventually left to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Others, not including Polk, were also suspended due to their support of Shepard’s defiance. News of the controversy spread quickly across the state, requiring the University to make a public statement justifying their response.

The oration expressed popular Republican and anti-British sentiments (inspired by bitterness over the War of 1812), despite a campus ban on making speeches supporting party politics. And it so happened that the person required to review speeches beforehand was the unpopular Peace Federalist and University President Robert Hett Chapman. Biddle not only dismissed Chapman’s edits, he gave the speech in its original form and then refused to stand down, inspiring near chaos to ensue on campus for days afterward. For Chapman, this event was essentially the last straw. Over the few years of his tenure, he and his family were subjected to student pranks of all sorts, including the tarring and feathering of the gatepost at his home and other destruction to his property, sometimes accompanied by taunting notes. Totally unrelated to these stressors, but certainly compounding the problem, his teenage daughter also died suddenly at age 15. She is buried in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. Chapman submitted his resignation in November 1816.

How does Polk fit into the picture? To write the Daily Tar Heel article, Charles Sellers’ biography James K. Polk: Jacksonian would have been an ideal source. In this book, Sellers quotes from Polk’s speech “Eloquence,” an inaugural address he delivered to the Dialectic Society, of which he was a member. With one line, Polk the undergraduate essentially advises his fellow students to never bow to faculty and to stay true to their ideals. Sellers uses this to emphasize the role and influence of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies on campus, each essentially a hotbed for 19th century anti-authoritarianism. This same quote appears in the DTH article and is credited as the speech that sparked the rebellion. The snag is that “Eloquence” was delivered on May 20, 1818, therefore almost two years after the Shepard oration. Polk was likely inspired by his rebellious classmates, but the documentation does not prove his involvement in the Infamous Uprising of 1816. Nevertheless, this provides fascinating insight into the rebellious nature of the 19th century undergraduate, which certainly continues to resonate with those at UNC centuries later.

polkEloquence
page 9 of Polk’s Inaugural Address, 5/20/1818, from the Dialectic Society Papers, University Archives

For further information:

Speeches by Polk in the Dialectic Society papers : “Composition on the Powers of Invention,” circa 1816-1818; “Composition on the Admission of Foreigners into Office in the United States,” 30 August 1817; Inaugural Address, 20 May 1818.

Senior speech controversy at Exhibits: http://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/academic_freedom/19th-century/senior-speech-controversy

Violence, Hardship, and the Southern Response

The South has witnessed unspeakable historical violence, hardship, and unrest. Whether it is a system developed over hundreds of years or the single act of one person, Southerners have used these circumstances as fuel to protest for a better reality … Continue reading

The South has witnessed unspeakable historical violence, hardship, and unrest. Whether it is a system developed over hundreds of years or the single act of one person, Southerners have used these circumstances as fuel to protest for a better reality and a better future.

At first blush, an archive might seem like an unusual place to learn about current events. We can’t provide the latest headline, updated numbers, or 24-hour news coverage. What an archive can do, though, is help explain how we got here in the first place. It can provide context, it can set the scene, and it can fill out a timeline. It can help draw comparisons, and it can bear witness to cycles, to repetition, and to causes and their effects. It can show what has worked in the past, and what has not.

We continue, as we always have, to collect the stories of those who stand up against violence and hardship. Below are just a few of our many collections that highlight how people have confronted difficulties in the past and fought for a South they could believe in.

Southerners for Economic Justice Records, 1977-2001
Southerners for Economic Justice (SEJ) began unionizing textile workers in 1976, and soon grew to advocate and provide support for the unemployed, working poor, and people dealing with hardship, discrimination, and violence. With over 87,000 items in this collection, you can find materials on successful community-based solutions to hardship, environmental racism, workplace safety, literacy, unlawful employment practices, racist violence, and leadership training programs. SEJ had many community collaborations with religious and international groups, and their collection includes materials from similar groups throughout the world.
 
 
 

J. Kenneth Lee's acceptance letter to the UNC-CH Law School.

Lee’s acceptance letter to the UNC-CH Law School, granted after a lengthy legal battle to integrate the program.

J. Kenneth Lee Papers, 1949-1994
In 1951, J. Kenneth Lee (1923- ) and Harvey Beech (1924-2005) became the first African Americans to attend UNC Chapel Hill’s Law School after a successful lawsuit. Lee committed his work to arguing civil rights cases in court, and was involved in more than 1,700 of these cases over more than 30 years. This collection is partially digitized and includes materials related to the Law School lawsuit, photos of Lee from his college days, and items related to the many boards, businesses, and organizations that Lee served.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Southern Oral History Program Collection, 1973-2015
The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) documents the South by conducting oral histories – recorded interviews with individuals or groups. The SOHP organizes interviews by themes, and still at work today to continue recording the experiences of Southerners and life in the South. Of note are their projects on The Long Civil Rights Movement, The Long Women’s Movement, The Rural South, and Listening for a Change, which includes sub-series ranging from environmental disasters, modern immigration, school desegregation, life as an HIV+ person in the South, and the breakdown of the tobacco economy in the South.
 
 
 

Jesse Daniel Ames, Mary McLeod Bethune, and other attendees of a conference on interracial cooperation hosted in Tuskegee, AL.

Jesse Daniel Ames, Mary McLeod Bethune, and other attendees of a conference on interracial cooperation hosted in Tuskegee, AL.

Jessie Daniel Ames Papers, 1866-1972
Jesse Daniel Ames (1883-1972) began her activism as a Suffragette, becoming more involved in social justice issues as she raised three children on her own. Starting in the 1920s, she gave speeches throughout the South and maintained leadership positions in the Texas Committee on Interracial Cooperation and the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. She founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in 1929, a volunteer organization that investigated and kept case files on Southern lynchings. In the 1940s, she began The Southern Frontier, a magazine focused on social, political, and economic justice in the region. This collection is almost fully digitized and available online.
 
 
 
Gilbert Brooks radio broadcasts, 1958-1961
Gilbert Brooks hosted a radio program from 1958-1961. This program was sponsored by the NAACP and addressed current issues in the lives of African Americans in the South. Topics range from sit-ins, employment, Pullman sleeping car Porters, national legislation, education, and voting rights. Programs also talk about the past 50 years of race relations and ponder on the future of race in America. All of these radio programs are available for patrons to listen to in our Reading Room.
 
 
 

The Arthur Franklin Raper papers have many publications about social justice.

The Arthur Franklin Raper papers have many publications about social justice.

Arthur Franklin Raper Papers, 1913-1979
Arthur Franklin Raper (1899-1979) approached issues of poverty, racism, violence, rural hardship, and economic distress from the view of a Sociologist and Social Scientist. Raper began his career by documenting issues in the rural South for the U.S. government. He supported anti-lynching and anti-racist work, and authored ten books whose subjects range from sharecropping to the impact of the Great Migration on the rural South. After World War II, he began doing similar studies in rural areas around the globe, particularly in Pakistan, Japan, Taiwan, and North African and Middle Eastern nations. A large portion of the collection is available online, including photographs taken during the Great Depression.
 
 
 
John Kenyon Chapman Papers, 1969-2009
John Kenyon Chapman (1947-2009), also known as Yonni, dedicated his life to social justice issues in central North Carolina. His early activist work focused on anti-Apartheid, African liberation, and fair labor practices. A survivor of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, he spent the latter portion of his life pushing for a more complete and accurate historical record of the role of African Americans in Southern history, starting important conversations about how we remember history and historical people.
 
 
 

The Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Training Center provided childcare and other support services to allow its patrons to focus on their education.

The Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Training Center provided childcare and other support services to allow its patrons to focus on their education. Pictured here are children of attendees at their Rich Square, NC program.

James A. Felton and Annie Vaughan Felton Papers, 1938-2010
James A. Felton (1919-1994) was a member of the Montford Point Marines and an educator in North Carolina for over 20 years. In the 1960s, he helped found the People’s Program on Poverty. This organization studied poverty and developed grassroots, community-based methods for uplifting impoverished people and impoverished communities. This program included to Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Training Center, which provided support and training to allow seasonal farmworkers to find full-time employment.

Violence, Hardship, and the Southern Response

The South has witnessed unspeakable historical violence, hardship, and unrest. Whether it is a system developed over hundreds of years or the single act of one person, Southerners have used these circumstances as fuel to protest for a better reality … Continue reading

The South has witnessed unspeakable historical violence, hardship, and unrest. Whether it is a system developed over hundreds of years or the single act of one person, Southerners have used these circumstances as fuel to protest for a better reality and a better future.

At first blush, an archive might seem like an unusual place to learn about current events. We can’t provide the latest headline, updated numbers, or 24-hour news coverage. What an archive can do, though, is help explain how we got here in the first place. It can provide context, it can set the scene, and it can fill out a timeline. It can help draw comparisons, and it can bear witness to cycles, to repetition, and to causes and their effects. It can show what has worked in the past, and what has not.

We continue, as we always have, to collect the stories of those who stand up against violence and hardship. Below are just a few of our many collections that highlight how people have confronted difficulties in the past and fought for a South they could believe in.


 
 
Southerners for Economic Justice Records, 1977-2001
Southerners for Economic Justice (SEJ) began unionizing textile workers in 1976, and soon grew to advocate and provide support for the unemployed, working poor, and people dealing with hardship, discrimination, and violence. With over 87,000 items in this collection, you can find materials on successful community-based solutions on environmental racism, workplace safety, literacy, unlawful employment practices, racist violence, and leadership training. SEJ had many community collaborations with religious and international groups, and their collection includes materials from similar groups throughout the world.
 
 
 

J. Kenneth Lee's acceptance letter to the UNC-CH Law School.

Lee’s acceptance letter to the UNC-CH Law School, granted after a lengthy legal battle to integrate the program.

J. Kenneth Lee Papers, 1949-1994
In 1951, J. Kenneth Lee (1923- ) and Harvey Beech (1924-2005) became the first African Americans to attend UNC Chapel Hill’s Law School after successfully suing to integrate the program. Lee graduated in 1952 and committed his work to arguing civil rights cases in court, handling more than 1,700 of these cases over more than 30 years. This collection is partially digitized and includes materials related to the Law School lawsuit, photos of Lee from his college days, and items related to the many boards, businesses, and organizations that Lee served.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Southern Oral History Program Collection, 1973-2015
The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) documents the South by conducting oral histories – recorded interviews with individuals or groups. The SOHP organizes interviews by themes, and even today continues to record the experiences of Southerners and life in the South. Of note are their projects on The Long Civil Rights Movement, The Long Women’s Movement, The Rural South, and Listening for a Change, which tackles topics ranging from environmental disasters, modern immigration, school desegregation, life as an HIV+ person in the South, and the breakdown of the tobacco economy in the South.
 
 
 

Jesse Daniel Ames, Mary McLeod Bethune, and other attendees of a conference on interracial cooperation hosted in Tuskegee, AL.

Jesse Daniel Ames, Mary McLeod Bethune, and other attendees of a conference on interracial cooperation hosted in Tuskegee, AL.

Jessie Daniel Ames Papers, 1866-1972
Jesse Daniel Ames (1883-1972) began her activism as a Suffragette, becoming more involved in social justice issues as she raised three children on her own. Starting in the 1920s, she gave speeches throughout the South and maintained leadership positions in the Texas Committee on Interracial Cooperation and the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. She founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in 1929, a volunteer organization that investigated and kept case files on Southern lynchings. In the 1940s, she began The Southern Frontier, a magazine focused on social, political, and economic justice in the region. This collection is almost fully digitized and available online.
 
 
 
Gilbert Brooks radio broadcasts, 1958-1961
Gilbert Brooks hosted a radio program from 1958-1961. This program was sponsored by the NAACP and addressed current issues in the lives of African Americans in the South. Topics range from sit-ins, employment, Pullman sleeping car Porters, national legislation, education, and voting rights. Programs also talk about the past 50 years of race relations and ponder on the future of race in America. All of these radio programs are available for patrons to listen to in our Reading Room.
 
 
 

The Arthur Franklin Raper papers have many publications about social justice.

The Arthur Franklin Raper papers have many publications about social justice.

Arthur Franklin Raper Papers, 1913-1979
Arthur Franklin Raper (1899-1979) approached issues of poverty, racism, violence, rural hardship, and economic distress from the view of a Sociologist and Social Scientist. Raper began his career by documenting issues in the rural South for the U.S. government. He supported anti-lynching and anti-racist work, and authored ten books whose subjects range from sharecropping to the impact of the Great Migration on the rural South. After World War II, he began doing similar studies in rural areas around the globe, particularly in Pakistan, Japan, Taiwan, and North African and Middle Eastern nations. A large portion of the collection is available online, including photographs taken during the Great Depression.
 
 
 
John Kenyon Chapman Papers, 1969-2009
John Kenyon Chapman (1947-2009), also known as Yonni, dedicated his life to social justice issues in central North Carolina. His early activist work focused on anti-Apartheid, African liberation, and fair labor practices. A survivor of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, he spent the latter portion of his life pushing for a more complete and accurate historical record of the role of African Americans in Southern history, starting important conversations about how we remember history and historical people.
 
 
 

The Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Training Center provided childcare and other support services to allow its patrons to focus on their education.

The Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Training Center provided childcare and other support services to allow its patrons to focus on their education. Pictured here are children of attendees at their Rich Square, NC program.

James A. Felton and Annie Vaughan Felton Papers, 1938-2010
James A. Felton (1919-1994) was a member of the Montford Point Marines and an educator in North Carolina for over 20 years. In the 1960s, he helped found the People’s Program on Poverty. This organization studied poverty and developed grassroots, community-based methods for uplifting impoverished people and impoverished communities. This program included the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Training Center, which provided support and training to allow seasonal farmworkers to find full-time, year-round employment.

New Collections: Activists, Educators, Families, and War

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights: New materials span from 1764 to 2010 Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in … Continue reading

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights:

  • New materials span from 1764 to 2010
  • Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in between)
  • Grassroots organizing, coal mining, and educational activism are common themes
  • There are 3 Civil War photographs and 2 books containing personal sketches from much of the UNC Chapel Hill classes of 1859-1865

Click on any of the collection titles to learn more about the materials, view any digital items, and request them for use in our reading room.


Records of Activists & Educators

James Franklin Cooley Papers (5663)

James Franklin Cooley was an educator, minister, police officer, World War II veteran, judge, civil rights activist, and college administrator in Little Rock, Ark. The collection contains Cooley’s resume; scattered printed materials relating to his candidacy in statewide and local elections; proclamations, certificates, and awards; pages from biographical dictionaries containing James Franklin Cooley’s entry; and clippings about him.

 

Lynch (Ky.) Colored High School-West Main Alumni Association, Inc. Collection (5590)

Lynch Colored School in Harlan County, Ky., served African American children, kindergarten through twelfth grade, who lived in the neighboring coal camps and company towns of Lynch, Ky., and Benham, Ky. United States Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation established a segregated school system in 1923 to accommodate the children of the company’s black coal miners, many of whom had migrated from Alabama and Georgia.

 

Carol Wills Materials on Eddie Hatcher (5668)

Carol Wills worked for The Independent in Durham, N.C., during the time that Eddie Hatcher was on trial for holding hostages at the The Robesonian newspaper office. Eddie Hatcher was a Lumbee activist in Robeson County, N.C. He and Timothy Jacobs said they held hostages at The Robesonian to draw attention to racism, drug trafficing, and poverty in Lumberton and the county.

 

Leah Wise Papers (5645)*

Papers documenting social justice activities of Durham, N.C., activist Leah Wise including her work with global social justice organizations and in community action groups. There is particular focus on African and African American issues, workers’ rights, anti-racism and anti-Ku Klux Klan groups, women’s rights, and agricultural and agriculture workers’ issues.

*These materials are currently available only by request, and may require additional processing time to access. If you are interested in accessing materials in this collection, please contact wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

 

Kathleen Kitchen Wood Collection (5620)

The collection documents the local and grassroots political efforts of Kathleen Kitchen Wood (1926-2011) during the 1960s in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Printed items, correspondence, and organizational documents illustrate the work of politically moderate and mostly white or all white organizations with which Wood affiliated including Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.), which advocated for keeping Mobile’s public schools open during the court ordered desegregation crisis, and the Georgia Council on Human Relations.


Family Collections

Benjamin Hickman Bunn Papers (5677)

Papers of lawyer, North Carolina state legislator, congressman, and Democratic Party politician, Benjamin Hickman Bunn (1844-1907) include political correspondence, legal documents, financial materials, and some items related to the Bunn family of Nash County, N.C. Political correspondence chiefly concerns congressional elections and North Carolina Democratic Party conventions in the 1880s and 1890s and contains frequent references to the North Carolina Farmers’ Alliance.

 

James McNeill Papers (5624)

The James McNeill Papers consist of letters written between 1846 and 1866 by James McNeill in Lauderdale and Kemper counties, Mississippi. The letters reveal that James McNeill was a Democrat, a slaveowner, and invested in several businesses, including lumber, cotton and corn crops, and buying and selling land in Mississippi and North Carolina. McNeill also wrote about family matters, settlers enacting vigilante justice against Mexicans in San Antonio, Tex., and the futility of the Civil War.

 

Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers (5643)

Guilford Mortimer Mooring (1847-1916) was a farmer and politician in Pitt County, N.C. The Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers consist chiefly of land indentures, deeds, and grants; personal receipts; and receipts relating to Mooring’s work as sheriff of Pitt County, N.C. Also of note are an 1862 promissory note pledging payment to Temperance Congleton for keeping a group of enslaved children and an 1867 indenture for Alexander Brown, a six-year-old orphan.

 

Knox Family Papers (5553)

The Knox family is from Rowan County, N.C., where they have lived since the 1740s. The Knox Family Papers contain business and legal receipts for the Knox family through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but also includes account books, indentures, intestate succession documents, slave lists, and receipts for blacksmithing, ministerial services, and other everyday purchases.

 

Ellen Whitehurst Papers (5634)

Ellen Cook Whitehurst was born in 1856 in Elizabeth City, N.C., to Nancy Cook, an enslaved woman, and an unknown father. The collection includes a letter, circa 1930, from Ellen Cook Whitehurst of New York to William White Griffin of Kinston, N.C., a cousin through their common Cook family line. The letter is a twenty-page manuscript written as reminiscences of Whitehurst’s life and family history.


Experiencing War

Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence (5650)

Jesse I. Ledbetter (1922-2015), of Buncombe County, N.C., served as a U.S. Army Air Corps B-24 bomber pilot with the 485th Bomber Group, 831st Bomb Squadron in Venosa, Italy during World War II. The Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence documents a 26 July 1944 bombing mission to Vienna, Austria.

 

John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books (5651)

John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher were students at the University of North Carolina during the Civil War. The John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books contain autographs, biographical information, quotes, and personal notes to the brothers from University of North Carolina students of the classes of 1859 through 1865.

 

Isaac O. Shelby Diaries and Photographs (5674)

The collection contains two diaries kept by Union solider Isaac O. Shelby while he served in the 25th Iowa Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and three carte des visites portraits of him. Diary entries describe his regiment’s involvement in the siege of Vicksburg; the Battle of Chattanooga; the siege of Atlanta; the Battle of Bentonville, and the surrender at Bennett Place.

New Collections: Activists, Educators, Families, and War

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights: New materials span from 1764 to 2010 Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in … Continue reading

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights:

  • New materials span from 1764 to 2010
  • Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in between)
  • Grassroots organizing, coal mining, and educational activism are common themes
  • There are 3 Civil War photographs and 2 books containing personal sketches from much of the UNC Chapel Hill classes of 1859-1865

Click on any of the collection titles to learn more about the materials, view any digital items, and request them for use in our reading room.


Records of Activists & Educators

 
James Franklin Cooley Papers (#05663)
James Franklin Cooley was an educator, minister, police officer, World War II veteran, judge, civil rights activist, and college administrator in Little Rock, Ark. The collection contains Cooley’s resume; scattered printed materials relating to his candidacy in statewide and local elections; proclamations, certificates, and awards; pages from biographical dictionaries containing James Franklin Cooley’s entry; and clippings about him.
 
Lynch (Ky.) Colored High School-West Main Alumni Association, Inc. Collection (#05590)
*Includes digital content
Lynch Colored School in Harlan County, Ky., served African American children, kindergarten through twelfth grade, who lived in the neighboring coal camps and company towns of Lynch, Ky., and Benham, Ky. United States Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation established a segregated school system in 1923 to accommodate the children of the company’s black coal miners, many of whom had migrated from Alabama and Georgia.
 
Carol Wills Materials on Eddie Hatcher (#05668)
Carol Wills worked for The Independent in Durham, N.C., during the time that Eddie Hatcher was on trial for holding hostages at the The Robesonian newspaper office. Eddie Hatcher was a Lumbee activist in Robeson County, N.C. He and Timothy Jacobs said they held hostages at The Robesonian to draw attention to racism, drug trafficing, and poverty in Lumberton and the county.
 
Leah Wise Papers (#05645)*
Papers documenting social justice activities of Durham, N.C., activist Leah Wise including her work with global social justice organizations and in community action groups. There is particular focus on African and African American issues, workers’ rights, anti-racism and anti-Ku Klux Klan groups, women’s rights, and agricultural and agriculture workers’ issues.

*These materials are currently available only by request, and may require additional processing time to access. If you are interested in accessing materials in this collection, please contact wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.
 
Kathleen Kitchen Wood Collection (#05620)
The collection documents the local and grassroots political efforts of Kathleen Kitchen Wood (1926-2011) during the 1960s in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Printed items, correspondence, and organizational documents illustrate the work of politically moderate and mostly white or all white organizations with which Wood affiliated including Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.), which advocated for keeping Mobile’s public schools open during the court ordered desegregation crisis, and the Georgia Council on Human Relations.


Family Collections

 
Benjamin Hickman Bunn Papers (#05677)
Papers of lawyer, North Carolina state legislator, congressman, and Democratic Party politician, Benjamin Hickman Bunn (1844-1907) include political correspondence, legal documents, financial materials, and some items related to the Bunn family of Nash County, N.C. Political correspondence chiefly concerns congressional elections and North Carolina Democratic Party conventions in the 1880s and 1890s and contains frequent references to the North Carolina Farmers’ Alliance.
 
James McNeill Papers (#05624)
The James McNeill Papers consist of letters written between 1846 and 1866 by James McNeill in Lauderdale and Kemper counties, Mississippi. The letters reveal that James McNeill was a Democrat, a slaveowner, and invested in several businesses, including lumber, cotton and corn crops, and buying and selling land in Mississippi and North Carolina. McNeill also wrote about family matters, settlers enacting vigilante justice against Mexicans in San Antonio, Tex., and the futility of the Civil War.
 
Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers (#05643)
Guilford Mortimer Mooring (1847-1916) was a farmer and politician in Pitt County, N.C. The Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers consist chiefly of land indentures, deeds, and grants; personal receipts; and receipts relating to Mooring’s work as sheriff of Pitt County, N.C. Also of note are an 1862 promissory note pledging payment to Temperance Congleton for keeping a group of enslaved children and an 1867 indenture for Alexander Brown, a six-year-old orphan.
 
Knox Family Papers (#05553)
The Knox family is from Rowan County, N.C., where they have lived since the 1740s. The Knox Family Papers contain business and legal receipts for the Knox family through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but also includes account books, indentures, intestate succession documents, slave lists, and receipts for blacksmithing, ministerial services, and other everyday purchases.
 
Ellen Whitehurst Papers (#05634)
*Includes digital content
Ellen Cook Whitehurst was born in 1856 in Elizabeth City, N.C., to Nancy Cook, an enslaved woman, and an unknown father. The collection includes a letter, circa 1930, from Ellen Cook Whitehurst of New York to William White Griffin of Kinston, N.C., a cousin through their common Cook family line. The letter is a twenty-page manuscript written as reminiscences of Whitehurst’s life and family history.


Experiencing War

 
Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence (#05650)
Jesse I. Ledbetter (1922-2015), of Buncombe County, N.C., served as a U.S. Army Air Corps B-24 bomber pilot with the 485th Bomber Group, 831st Bomb Squadron in Venosa, Italy during World War II. The Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence documents a 26 July 1944 bombing mission to Vienna, Austria.
 
John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books (#05651)
*Includes digital content
John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher were students at the University of North Carolina during the Civil War. The John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books contain autographs, biographical information, quotes, and personal notes to the brothers from University of North Carolina students of the classes of 1859 through 1865.
 
Isaac O. Shelby Diaries and Photographs (#05674-z)
The collection contains two diaries kept by Union solider Isaac O. Shelby while he served in the 25th Iowa Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and three carte des visites portraits of him. Diary entries describe his regiment’s involvement in the siege of Vicksburg; the Battle of Chattanooga; the siege of Atlanta; the Battle of Bentonville, and the surrender at Bennett Place.

A Look at UNC’s Bout with Censorship: The 1963 Speaker Ban

Guest Poster: SHC Student Worker, James A. Moore (UNC Class of 2015) From the eccentric monologues of the pit preacher, to the passionate Ferguson protest, to the somber vigil for Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, recent times have demonstrated … Continue reading

Guest Poster: SHC Student Worker, James A. Moore (UNC Class of 2015)

From the eccentric monologues of the pit preacher, to the passionate Ferguson protest, to the somber vigil for Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, recent times have demonstrated UNC’s reputation of being a place which fosters free speech. When thinking about all the recent demonstrations which UNC has welcomed, it can be easy to forget that less than 50 years ago, UNC had come under fire for passing a law which banned certain speakers from speaking on campus. This law was known as “The Speaker Ban Law”

Protestors outside of Carolina Coffee shop on February 1, 1964

Protestors outside of Carolina Coffee shop on February 1, 1964

 

Protestors outside of North Carolina Coffee Shop. February 10, 1964

Protestors outside of North Carolina Coffee Shop. February 10, 1964

Not too unlike today, in the 1960s UNC Chapel Hill had become a hotspot for political activism. Racial tensions and the war in Vietnam inspired many UNC students to hold demonstrations on UNC’s campus. Concerned that these protests may be seen as harbingers for communism, the more conservative members of UNC’s Board of Trustees passed The Speaker Ban Law, which prevented any speakers who were even suspected of having communist ties from being permitted to speak on UNC’s campus.

Naturally, a considerable amount of UNC’s students and faculty spoke out against the Speaker Ban Law. From the UNC chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, to UNC Chancellor William Aycock, a whole wave of dissident voices took to the press to speak out against the law in the name of free speech.

Although not as conspicuous as some other responses against the ban, a particularly eloquent response came from one of UNC Chapel Hill’s peers, UNC Greensboro. On March 6, 1966, Chancellor Otis A. Singletary of UNC Greensboro delivered a scathing critique of UNC Chapel Hill’s ban, with various passages that we here at the SHC believe everyone in the academic community would do well to remember:

Statement to the UNC Board of Trustees by Chancellor Otis Singletary of UNC Greensboro March 6, 1966. Anne Queen Collection (#5214)

Statement to the UNC Board of Trustees by Chancellor Otis Singletary of UNC Greensboro March 6, 1966. Anne Queen Collection (#5214)

The controversial Speaker Ban Law was eventually lifted on February 19, 1968 due to vagueness. This allowed students to protest more freely on UNC’s campus. The clipping below is just one example of how engaged students can be when given the oppurtunity to bring speakers and express ideas freely on campus.

Clipping from The Daily Tar Heel of the "March on South Building" from May 6,1970

Clipping from The Daily Tar Heel of the “March on South Building” from May 6,1970

To read more of Chancellor Singletary’s timely defense of free speech at College Universities check out the Anne Queen Collection (collection #5214), see other materials related to student activism, and learn more about the Speaker Ban Law, pay a visit to the SHC! For even more context and detailed information about free speech at UNC, you should check out the digital exhibit curated by the Southern Historical Collection, North Carolina Collection, and University Archives.