Against ‘bombastic, high-falutin aristocratic fools’

“Outside of East Tennessee the most extensive antiwar organizing took place in western and central North Carolina, whose residents had largely supported the Confederacy in 1861. Here the secret Heroes of America, numbering perhaps 10,000 men, established an ‘underground railroad’ to enable Unionists to escape to Federal lines.

“The Heroes originated in North Carolina’s Quaker Belt, Piedmont counties whose Quaker and Moravian residents had long harbored pacifist and antislavery sentiments. Unionists in this region managed to elect ‘peace men’ to the state legislature and a member of the Heroes as the local sheriff. By 1864 the organization had spread into the North Carolina mountains, had garnered considerable support among Raleigh artisans and was even organizing in plantation areas (where there is some evidence of black involvement in its activities).

“Confederate governor Zebulon Vance dismissed the Heroes of America as ‘altogether a low and insignificant concern.’ But by 1864 the organization was engaged in espionage, promoting desertion and helping escaped Federal prisoners reach Tennessee and Kentucky….

“Most of all, the Heroes of America helped galvanize the class resentments rising to the surface of Southern life. Alexander H. Jones, a Hendersonville newspaper editor, pointedly expressed their views: ‘This great national strife originated with men and measures that were … opposed to a democratic form of government.… The fact is, these bombastic, high-falutin aristocratic fools have been in the habit of driving negroes and poor helpless white people until they think … that they themselves are superior; [and] hate, deride and suspicion the poor.’ ”

— From “The South’s inner Civil War” by Eric Foner, American Heritage, March 1989

Lux Libertas in Perpetuity: Historic Preservation at UNC

Cold winds swept through its ill-fitting swinging doors. There was no toilet… The only washing facilities — and they were then a modern improvement — were long galvanized iron troughs in the corridors with cold water taps above them. Undoubtedly the recollection of great earlier students filled the rooms. In their time, they must have shivered too.

— Mr. Jonathan Daniels, recalling in 1966 his days as a student resident of Old East

Old East, circa 1929
Old East, circa 1929

Old East is, rightly, the beginning of any history of UNC’s built environment. When its cornerstone was laid in 1793, its builders surely knew that it was the first state university building in the nation. But could they have known then that it would still be standing in 2012? Could they have imagined the changes it would see in its lifetime: first toilets, then television, then microwaves, then wi-fi?

In 1922, Old East was condemned as unsafe and that could have been the end of the story. Fortunately, those at the helm had the foresight (and the hindsight) to recognize the building’s value and invest in renovations. As the result of a legislative appropriation, its walls were reinforced and its east-side portico restored. In 1966, Old East was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The effort to preserve Old East is one of the stories Wendy Hillis will share during “Lux Libertas in Perpetuity: Historic Preservation at UNC.” Hillis, UNC’s historic preservation officer, will deliver the talk as the 2012 Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture on April 4 at 5:30 in Wilson Library.

The talk celebrates two current Library exhibitions about campus architecture. A Dialogue Between Old and New: Notable Buildings on the UNC Campus is on view in the North Carolina Collection Gallery. Knowledge Building(s): The Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is in the gallery of Davis Library. Both are open through May 31, 2012.

Cleveland County courthouse will serve as home to one tribute to Earl Scruggs

Postcard of Cleveland County Courthouse
Friends and family of Earl Scruggs say they’re disappointed that the legendary banjo player didn’t live to see the opening of the Earl Scruggs Center in the old Cleveland County courthouse (point of clarification: the building was new when the above postcard was printed some 100 years ago). The Cleveland County native died in Nashville yesterday at the age of 88. Scruggs’ nephew, J.T. Scruggs, told the Shelby Star that his uncle was thrilled by the project. Destination Cleveland County, the non-profit behind the Scruggs Center, received a $1.5 million grant in 2010 to help pay for renovation of the courthouse. Plans for the center include a permanent exhibit showcasing the life of Scruggs as well as rotating displays on local history and music. Brownie Plaster, the chairwoman of Destination Cleveland County, told the Charlotte Observer that volunteers gathered more than 300 hours of taped interviews with the star of the three-finger picking style. The center is tentatively scheduled to open in the fall.

Also receiving votes: Ruby Falls

“We have [an opinion poll] in North Carolina that we feel is quite reliable. We tabulate automobile bumper stickers to determine the trend of support for presidential candidates.

“Our latest tabulation indicates that Nixon is in first place, Linville Caverns is in second, and Kennedy is tied for third with Tweetsie Railroad.”

— Letter from Jack Runnion of Winston-Salem to the editor of Time magazine, October 10, 1960

Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands now available online

Mark Catesby's illustration of the Carolina Parrot

Curious about the flora and fauna that populated the Carolinas during the waning days of the Lords Proprietors? Check out the two volumes of Mark Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. We’ve just made it available online.

Catesby’s Natural History is generally credited as the first published work to provide illustrations and descriptions of North American flora and fauna. From 1722-1726 Catesby, an English naturalist, ranged over South Carolina, Georgia and the Bahamas sketching and collecting specimens of native plants and animals. Catesby used the samples gathered and the drawings completed during his trip, his second visit to North America, as the source material for his book. Although most often found as a two-volume set, Natural History was published in 11 discrete sections from 1734-1747 and sold by subscription. Although Catesby died in 1749, his work was republished in 1754 and again in 1771.

The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands includes an illustration of the Carolina Parrot (pictured above). Although now extinct, the species was abundant at the time of Catesby’s travels.

Catesby’s work also includes another bird now considered “critically endangered” and possibly extinct. Catesby referred to the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker as “the Largest White-bill Woodpecker,” and wrote that “the bills of these Birds are much valued by the Canada Indians, who make coronets of them for their Princes and great warriors, by fixing them round a wreath, with their points outward.”

Mark Catesby's illustration of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker

Catesby’s illustration of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is among the 17 archival reproductions now available for purchase through the Library’s web portal with 1000 Museums. In the coming weeks and months we’ll be adding more Catesbys as well as other prints and photos from the North Carolina Collection to 1000 Museums.

Check out what’s new in the North Carolina Collection

Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Recipes from the collection in honor of National Something on a Stick Day.

There are a number of wacky food days out there and today happens to be one.  March 28 is National Something on a Stick Day.  Here are a few recipes from the North Carolina Collection stacks to help you celebrate.

From Carolina Cooking.

From A Taste of the Old and the New.

From Buffet Benny’s Family Cookbook : Recipes, Stories & Poems from the Appalachian Mountains.

The Six Most Influential Books in Telling North Carolina’s History…Discuss!

At the “New Voyages to Carolina: The First North Carolina” conference held at East Carolina University in February of this year, Dr. Larry Tise shared a list of what he, Dr. William S. Price, and Dr. Jeffrey Crow “considered ‘the most influential books’ in shaping the way we have told the North Carolina story in the past and which will still inspire us as we formulate a new narrative. [These books] are the ‘perennial’ and ‘permanent’ formulations of North Carolina’s character and history. We also fondly aspire to tell the North Carolina story in the future as ‘elegantly’ as has been narrated in these important works.” [quote from email correspondence the author had with Dr. Tise]

The books are:

Thomas Hariot’s A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia…
John Lawson’s A New Voyage to Carolina
Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself
Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel
Guion Griffis Johnson’s Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History
John Hope Franklin’s The Free Negro in North Carolina

Seems like a pretty good list…but what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Additions? Deletions? (Let’s keep it at six…so if you add one, you have to delete one—so make your case well)

Pigmeat Markham’s mainstream moment

“[‘Laugh-In’ guest] Sammy Davis Jr., decked out in an oversized judicial wig and robe, introduced a courtroom sketch by strutting across the stage on his Cuban heels, waving his arms and chanting, ‘Here come de judge! Here come de judge! Here come de judge!’ — a line popularized by [Durham-born] black comedian Dewey ‘Pigmeat’ Markham….

” ‘Here come de judge!’ not only achieved a nationwide circulation exceeding Markham’s wildest dreams, but also earned a niche in the glossary of show-biz phraseology….

“Markham had spent decades on the vaudeville ‘Chitlin Circuit’ along with such greats as Moms Mabley and Mantan Moreland, occasionally heading downtown to perform before an integrated audience at Minsky’s Burlesque…. Only in the 1960s did he start showing up with any frequency on ‘mainstream’ television, and only during a one-year ‘Laugh-In’ gig did he ever appear as a TV-series regular.”

— From “From Beautiful Downtown Burbank: A Critical History of  ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,’ 1968-1973″ by Hal Erickson (2000)

A second “Laugh-In” catchphrase, “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls,” also originated with Markham. He died in 1981 at age 77.

Not all wronged blacks had ally in NAACP

“[In 1958 in Monroe, North Carolina] two Negro boys aged seven and nine were playing house with a group of white kids their age….  One of the white girls and one of the Negro boys kissed. The little girl told her parents. Joined by his neighbors, the girl’s father went looking for the boy and his family with a gun. Both boys were arrested and sent to reform school indefinitely. As head of the local chapter of the NAACP, Robert Williams…  called in the national office. There followed a classic case of alienation between the Negro middle class and the Negro poor….

“Since the boys were deemed illegitimate, the national office had reservations about  involvement in their case, feeling that the boys’  families just weren’t the type of Negroes to shine a national limelight on….

“But an English reporter got wind of the case and decided to visit the boys in reform school. She brought along their mothers, and the photo of their reunion was shown in newspapers around the world. Demonstrations in support of the boys were held in Paris, Rome, Vienna and Rotterdam. … Fifteen thousand signatures demanding their release were… sent to President Eisenhower and [Gov. Luther Hodges]. The boys were released on February 13, 1959.”

— From “Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America” by Hugh Pearson (1994)