Courtside Morton(s)

Tonight the University of North Carolina Tar Heel men play a game of basketball against UC-Santa Barbara.
My image scanning and processing this month has consisted of mostly basketball photographs,  and  according to a rough estimation they outnumber the usual celluloid suspects — bears, battleships, and pageant queens — by a significant margin. Therefore I have many pictures to choose from, and I feel slightly overwhelmed by all the options, all of which are excellent.
Thanks to a long tradition of basketball movies, I have been given the impression that basketball is about more than slam dunks and court-side gesticulations. Hugh Morton’s photos do not dispel this perception: in the collection there are a host of photographs from locker rooms, press conferences, dinner parties, and airplanes.

UNC men's basketball team returning from 1982 NCAA Championship win

Here is an optimistic photograph, to begin with: a very backstage shot of a very sleepy men’s basketball team returning home on an airplane after their 1982 NCAA championship victory in New Orleans. (Note the young Michael Jordan two rows back on the left, and that looks like James Worthy in the front right, cuddling with his pillow).
Here is another off-court shot, of a very despondent, soda-drinking player in the locker room. The man, presumably a coach, assistant coach, or general father figure, is trying to encourage him in vain.

UNC men's basketball player being consoled in locker room

Moving on in the basketball summary, here is a highlight from the collection of on-court photographs. After seeing this, I wonder if maybe basketball really is just about slam dunks.

UNC basketball's Michael Jordan dunking in a game against Duke, early 1980s

Carolina, in a game against Duke, is trailing slightly (36-42 according to the scoreboard), but I wonder, did this momentous dunk-in-progress by Michael Jordan change things? Was this one of the seminal Carolina-Duke match-ups, or merely another entry in the tally of this legendary rivalry?
My idea on this photo is that, because it was taken in the Greensboro Coliseum, it might be from the ACC tournament on March 10, 1984. If so, then Duke ended up winning, 75 to 77. But I can never be sure, as the photos I process often come to me in the form of loose, undated and unlabeled film negatives, and I have no context for the picture aside from embedded details (nametags and calendars are always welcome!). Can anyone help me identify the particular game?
To close, I have a photo from Hugh’s grandson Jack Morton, who has apparently inherited his Tar Heel photographer’s pass, and is documenting the exploits of current UNC basketballers. More of Jack’s photos from the Nov. 15 Carolina-Penn season opener can be viewed here. It is pretty neat to see the family continuity, isn’t it?

UNC's Deon Thompson and Penn defender in season opener, 11/15/2008

Let me introduce myself…

My name is Amber, and I’m the newest student assistant at work on the Morton collection. One of the projects I’m working on is with what we call the “Machine Prints.” In the 1990s-early 2000s, Hugh Morton sent many of his rolls of film to local drug and grocery stores to be developed.  He would then look through those negatives and decide which ones he wanted to make prints of.  Unfortunately that meant that many negatives were separated from the rest of their roll, and quite often, the prints in an envelope don’t have matching negatives (or any negatives at all!).

Morton did label most of the Machine Print envelopes, but those labels don’t always match the pictures.  The first envelope I opened was of a game in the Dean Dome, but in the middle was a random picture of Prince Charles.  (Apparently it was taken at the Biltmore Estate, where he came to learn more about preserving historic structures—see Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, page 127).

Elizabeth had already done a preliminary sort with general categories such as Basketball, Grandfather Mountain, and Nature, and I then tried to narrow them a little more.  The first one I tackled was basketball and was able to sort those by date.  However, many envelopes were simply labeled “NCAA ’94,” and it was up to me to figure out which teams were playing.

UNC’s Vince Carter dunks against UC Berkeley, 1997

This photo stayed with me as I was going through the many others.  I was amazed at how #15 was defying gravity.  The sheer physics of what he is doing is incomprehensible to me.  This was in a roll labeled “2/98 NC State.”  However, the visitors bench sure doesn’t look red. According to Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, this is Vince Carter and they are playing Cal Berkley (p. 199), which probably would have put it during the Nov. 22, 1997 game at the Dean Dome.  At the June “Photo ID Party,” Fred Kiger said this was Morton’s favorite sports photo he ever took.

This next picture was in an envelope labeled “Groundhog Ice Cream.”  You can see the chocolate smeared on her nose.  But, what is the back story on this?  Is this from Grandfather Mountain?  Some February 2nd tradition?  If anyone knows, please fill me in.  The curiosity is killing me.

Groundhog eating ice cream cone, circa 1990s

I am currently in the middle of going through all the Grandfather Mountain pictures.  What an amazing place.  The sweeping vistas are beautiful, and that Swinging Bridge—I don’t know if I am brave enough to cross it.  I just finished with the Fall pictures and the striking reds and yellows against green grass and bright blue sky are so perfectly captured, and the pictures of bears with different families and local celebrities are a crack-up.

Grandfather Mountain in fall with golf course in foreground, circa 1990s

This has definitely made me want to visit Grandfather soon, to see the places depicted in these pictures and try to capture them with my own camera (although I know they can never be nearly as stunning). Hey, mom and dad, what are we doing for Thanksgiving?  They have golf there!

Crowdsourcing IDs – another method

As a recent Boston Globe article discusses, historians, archivists, and other cultural professionals are increasingly relying on the public to help provide information and feedback about the materials in their collections. These efforts have been hugely expedited by the internet—see, for examples, Flickr collections put up by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, a “crowd-curated” photo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, and this very blog!

In addition to our online efforts, we here at the library decided to experiment with “crowdsourcing” in person. A few weeks back, we hosted an event we called a “Hugh Morton Photo Identification Party.” Hugh’s wife Julia Taylor Morton (in white top above), Bill Friday, and some other guinea pigs we felt would have specific knowledge and experience related to various areas of Morton’s work were invited. We set up some unidentified Morton prints on tables labeled “Sports,” “People,” and “Places,” pulled together a slideshow, armed a few library staff with paper and pencils, and started recording.
The result, we think, was a great success—more than 300 previously undocumented images were at least partially identified!

The award for most efficient and prolific identification has to go to the “Sports” table (shown above), where former UNC men’s basketball coach Bill Guthridge and UNC sports reporter/historian extraordinaire Fred Kiger kept our own Jason Tomberlin’s pencil flying for hours.
They identified the shooter in the Morton image below as Dante Calabria, playing for UNC against the Texas Longhorns in the Smith Center. (I haven’t yet done the research to confirm the year).

The composition of this next Morton photo is simply amazing. The ID we got from Guthridge and Kiger was (in unknown order) Tommy Lagarde, Walter Davis, and Mitch Kupchak vs. NCSU, 1975 or 1976. Perhaps fittingly, they didn’t identify the NC State players. Can anyone help refine this description?
Pictured, in no order: Tommy Lagarde, Walter Davis, Mitch Kupchak
These are just a few basketball-related highlights from what may be the first of (potentially) several “Morton Photo ID Parties.” We’re thinking future events could be topically based—e.g., another one just for Sports, one on Morton’s nature/scenic photography, the Azalea Festival, etc., etc.
Let us know if you have ideas, or would like to host one!

Start the Madness!

In honor of the beginning of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (in which UNC is the #1 overall seed, by the way), and since I’m just starting to sort through Morton’s basketball negatives, I thought I’d quickly share a few highlights from UNC basketball glories past.
The first image is from the 1946 tournament, which marked UNC’s first appearance in the title game, played at Madison Square Garden against Oklahoma A&M. Sadly, UNC lost to Oklahoma 43-40.
1946 NCAA Championship Game, Madison Square Garden
UNC’s first title win came in 1957, and while I’m fairly certain Hugh Morton would have photographed the tournament, I haven’t yet found the negatives to prove it. There are, however, some shots of the 1957 championship team in the library’s UNC Photo Lab Collection.
And then, of course, there’s the famous 1982 tournament, when a UNC team containing such legendary members as James Worthy (below, right), and a young Michael Jordan (center) defeated the Georgetown Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing. (I scanned this image from a print, since I haven’t yet found the negative). Morton photographed this tournament heavily, collaborating with David Daly on the 1991 book, One to Remember: The 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA Championship Team, Then and Now.
1982 UNC Men’s Basketball NCAA Championship Team
Also legendary was the team’s coach from 1961 to 1997, Dean Smith, seen below on the sidelines during the 1982 tournament. Smith and Morton were close friends, and Morton provided many of the photos for Smith’s 2002 memoir, A Coach’s Life. The Morton collection contains hundreds of images of Smith, not only at games and press conferences but also playing golf, hanging out with bears at Grandfather, etc.
UNC Coach Dean Smith on the sidelines during the 1982 NCAA Tournament
Hopefully, in a few short weeks, we’ll have some new, triumphant memories to add to this list . . .