Artifact of the Month: Winston Rodeo bumper sticker, circa 1975

This month’s Artifact of the Month post illustrates our continuing fascination with objects related to tobacco marketing. (For prior evidence of this obsession, see posts about the Seal of North Carolina Plug Cut tobacco pouch, the Joe Camel holiday lighter, and the Duke Cigarettes tobacco cards.)

Our April Artifact is a bumper sticker for the Winston Rodeo, circa 1975. That’s Winston as in the cigarette brand, owned by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.


The Winston Rodeo series began in 1971 or 1972 (depending on which source you consult). It originally included roughly 600 rodeos each year throughout the country.

An intriguing 2010 article in the American Journal of Public Health analyzes internal tobacco industry documents to reveal the motivations behind tobacco company rodeo sponsorship. Not surprisingly, the goal was the promotion of cigarettes — not rodeo.

The researchers conclude that it was no coincidence that the advent of Winston’s rodeo sponsorship coincided with the 1971 ban on cigarette advertising on television and radio. During a televised rodeo event, TV cameras can pick up branded banners, scoreboards, and clothing, such as the jacket worn by a cowgirl in two photographs that came to the North Carolina Collection with the bumper sticker:


Tucked under the collar on each shoulder is the embroidered slogan “Winston: How Good it Is.”

If you find that kind of branding too subtle, then take the example of Miss Winston:


Miss Winston was a spokesmodel for the Winston Cup, a NASCAR racing series that was also sponsored by Winston. Miss Winston presumably made an appearance at the rodeo and autographed this photo for a lucky fan.

In 1975, R.J. Reynolds offered free Winston Rodeo bumper stickers, of which our Artifact is likely an example. Fans who were younger than 21 could skirt the company’s policy against marketing to young people by having their parents sign a statement provided by RJR.

On the back of the bumper sticker Winston advertises a 45 rpm souvenir record, a “Musical Salute to the Professional Rodeo Cowboy.”


It’s a clever marketing move: Why not use your promotional materials to advertise other promotional materials? The cost was only $1.50 and two empty Winston packages.

A 1979 study commissioned by R.J. Reynolds concluded that Winston’s rodeo sponsorship had its intended effect of increasing purchases among fans. The study found a 10% per-year increase starting in 1974 attributed partially to Winston’s sponsorship of its Rodeo Superstars and College Rodeo Scholarship programs.

We’re grateful to the researchers who sifted through all those tobacco industry documents: Drs Pamela M. Ling, Lawrence A. Haber, and Stefani Wedl.

And we’re grateful to the anonymous rodeo fan who opted not to affix this artifact to his/her bumper. It’s a perfect addition to the NCC Gallery’s collection of tobacco-related objects.

Join us for a Wikipedia edit-a-thon!


The North Carolina Heritage Award has been awarded to traditional artists since its inception in 1989. North Carolina has a rich heritage of folk and heritage arts, ranging from pottery to dance. Some of the award winners are internationally known for their craft, such as Doc Watson and Jim Shumate, whereas others have practiced their arts locally. Twelve North Carolinians have gone on to win the National Heritage Fellowship Award presented by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wikipedia is often the first place people visit to find information on a topic, yet many of our state’s notable traditional artists have no entry, and in other cases the entry has little information.

On April 5 at 5:00 p.m., we’ll hold an edit-a-thon in Wilson Library that will fill in some of these gaps. We’ll use collection materials to create, update, and improve articles about North Carolina Heritage Award winners, in anticipation of the Heritage Awards ceremony presented by PineCone and the North Carolina Arts Council.

The event is sponsored by the North Carolina Collection and the Southern Folklife Collection with support from PineCone and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

More information can be found in Wikipedia and on Facebook. We hope you’ll join us!

Artifacts of the Month: Duke Cigarettes tobacco cards, early 1900s

With the 88th Academy Awards happening this month, we’ve been dreaming of old-school starlets. Our February Artifacts of the Month are a trio of tobacco cards from the early 1900s featuring actresses from that era.


The tobacco cards came from Duke Cigarettes, a product of W. Duke, Sons & Co., founded by North Carolina tobacco magnate Washington Duke in 1881.

Tobacco cards were first included in cigarette packs in the 1870s, with the purpose of stiffening each pack to lessen the chance that it would be crushed or bent. It wasn’t long before some enterprising soul saw their potential for brand promotion and a new advertising medium was born.

By the mid-1880s, manufacturers were printing themed sets of tobacco cards, with each card in the set bearing a unique image. The idea was to encourage brand loyalty by creating consumers’ desire to complete a set — so the themes capitalized on the popularity of certain cultural interests. Baseball players, boxers, and aviators all appeared on tobacco cards. And so, of course, did beautiful young actresses.

The three cards featured here are just a few in a huge series. Lillian Russell was one of the most famous American actresses at the turn of the twentieth century. Violet Cameron was a British stage actress with a scandalous personal life. And the lovely Lilia Blow remains a mystery to this writer. Students of cinematic or dramaturgical history, please chime in in the comments!

Pioneer female photographers exhibit extended


The current exhibition in the North Carolina Collection Gallery, Bayard Wootten & Frances Benjamin Johnston: Pioneer Female Photographers and North Carolina’s Preservation Movement, has been extended through February 7 due to popular interest.

In 1939 and 1941 photographers Bayard Wootten and Frances Benjamin Johnston, respectively, produced pivotal books on North Carolina architecture that spurred the state’s architectural preservation movement. Both women approached their projects with their own distinctive styles, in some cases producing dramatically different images of the same building. The resulting books, both published by the University Press, represent the divergent styles of the two photographers. The stories behind the books, however, are closely intertwined.

If you haven’t yet had the chance, please stop in and see the work of these two fascinating photographers side by side.

For hours, location, and parking, see our “Visit Us” page.

Artifact of the Month: Dizzy Gillespie for President button

If you’re already fed up with the 2016 presidential campaign and aching for a new candidate to shake things up, our December Artifact of the Month is for you!


The artifact is a pinback button reading “Dizzy Gillespie for President.” Dizzy Gillespie, of course, being the jazz trumpeter who earned his place in the pantheon of masters in the 1940s and 50s. Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, less than 15 miles from the North Carolina border. He spent two years in North Carolina studying at the Laurinburg Institute as a young man on a music scholarship, before his rise to fame and long before this button was made.

Now, if you’ve never thought of Gillespie as a politician you may be wondering why this button was made.

The practice of printing joke items reading “___________ for President” has long been a promotional tool for performers and other celebrities. That’s what the “Dizzy Gillespie for President” slogan was initially — just a funny tool for promotion. Gillespie’s booking agency, Associated Booking Corporation, created the buttons as merchandise for fans, probably in the late 1950s.

But several years later, with the fight for civil rights taking on increasing urgency and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom serving as inspiration, Gillespie decided he would, in fact, launch a presidential campaign. He had a political platform, a campaign manager, and a slate of jazz greats shortlisted for his cabinet.

Gillespie pitched his candidacy as a third choice in the 1964 presidential race between Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater. And although he never got on the ballot in any state, his campaign did serve as a valid — if sometimes lighthearted — critique of the issues.

1955 portrait of Dizzy Gillespie from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, reproduction number LC-USZ62-102156 DLC.
1955 portrait of Dizzy Gillespie from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection. File here.

In his memoir, To Be, or not… to Bop, Gillespie writes, “Anybody coulda made a better President than the ones we had in those times, dillydallying about protecting blacks in the exercise of their civil and human rights and carrying on secret wars against people around the world.”

How would a Gillespie presidency have been different? He would have had NASA send at least one black astronaut to space. Transformed the White House into the Blues House. Revoked the citizenship of Alabama Governor George Wallace and deported him to Vietnam. Required the Senate Internal Security Committee to investigate “everything under white sheets” for un-American activities.

Gillespie acknowledged later that the campaign “had its humorous side,” but the media attention he received shed light on critical issues like segregation and employment discrimination. He writes:

There were pressures on me to withdraw from the race after the press began to show some interest, and they found out that I was a serious candidate. Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee, an arch conservative, tried to split and draw away my support from the jazz community by naming Turk Murphy as his favorite musician. I replied, ‘All I can say is don’t blame Turk for that. I’m glad he didn’t pick me.’

The election took place on November 3, 1964. And — spoiler alert — Gillespie didn’t win. But his campaign was a media-savvy way to bring important ideas into the national conversation.

This pinback button is part of a recent donation of objects from donor and longtime friend of the NCC Lew Powell, along with a trove of other buttons, three-dimensional artifacts, and paper ephemera from North Carolina. We look forward to sharing more from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection in the new year!

Seeking love beads, legwarmers, and more!

Back in August we sent out a call to alumni seeking clothing from their student days. The items will be used in an exhibition about student fashion at UNC in the twentieth century.

We’ve been thrilled by the generous response to our request: Alumni have come forward with a mountain of fantastic items to loan and donate. As we make final decisions about what we have space for in the exhibit, we’re looking for a handful of specific items to fill in a few gaps.

Do you have any of these in your attic or closet?

From the late 1960s and early 1970s

Black Power necklace
Black Power necklace
Tie-dye t-shirt
Tie-dye t-shirt

From the mid- to late 1970s

Colorful head scarf
Colorful head scarf
Wide tie
Wide tie

From the 1970s or 1980s

Custom message t-shirt made (just for you!) in the Shrunken Head Boutique
Custom message t-shirt made (just for you!) in the Shrunken Head Boutique
Foster Grant sunglasses
Foster Grant sunglasses
Foster Grant sunglasses
Foster Grant sunglasses

From the early 1980s

Roller skates
Roller skates
Striped tube socks
Striped tube socks
Big plastic glasses frames
Big plastic glasses frames
Square-end knit tie
Square-end knit tie

From the late 1980s

Clothing with Benetton label
Clothing with Benetton label
Sweatshirt with the neck cut off
Sweatshirt with the neck cut off
Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses (or Wayfarers)
Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses (or Wayfarers)
Checkered slip-on Vans sneakers
Checkered slip-on Vans sneakers

From the 1990s

Baja jacket
Baja jacket
Slouch socks
Slouch socks
Pleated shorts
Pleated shorts
Button-down plaid shirt
Button-down plaid shirt
Hair scrunchie
Hemp jewelry
Hemp jewelry

From any era

Rainbow sandals
Rainbow sandals*

Can you help?

If you have any of these articles and would be willing to lend or donate them for the exhibit, please get in touch by calling the North Carolina Collection Gallery at 919-962-0104 or by emailing

* All photos from UNC’s yearbook, The Yackety Yack, except Rainbow Sandals photo by JVO27.

Artifact of the Month: Carolinas’ Carrousel commemorative buttons

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade enjoys the title for the nation’s most famous Thanksgiving parade, but North Carolina‘s most well-loved Thanksgiving Parade is surely Carolinas’ Carrousel. Our November Artifacts of the Month are two commemorative Carrousel buttons.


Carolinas’ Carrousel began in 1947 and quickly attained big-deal status. In 1950, celebrity cowboy Hopalong Cassidy led the parade, which drew a record crowd of 500,000 attendees.

The celebration has been held every year since its inception and is televised regionally. When it nearly folded in 2013, the company Novant Health rescued it, renaming it the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day parade (and leaving us to perpetually wonder: What was with the extra “r” in “Carrousel”?)


The parade remains as an annual holiday tradition, with floats, balloons, celebrity performances, and an annual scholarship competition. (Would you fault us for bragging if we mentioned that one of the NCC Gallery’s former student employees won 5th place in the 2010 competition?)

2011 Carolinas' Carrousel Parade. Photo by Flickr user cheriejoyful.
2011 Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade. Photo by Flickr user cheriejoyful.
2012 Carolinas' Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.
2012 Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.
2012 Carolina's Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.
2012 Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.

As we make our annual gratitude list in honor of Thanksgiving, we’ll certainly include blog contributor and ephemera collector Lew Powell. Thanks, Lew, for donating these fantastic buttons (and so many others).

Artifact of the Month: 1950s globe

In 1955, UNC’s senior class generously donated a large globe to the University Library. It’s still on display in the North Carolina Collection Gallery, and it’s our August Artifact of the Month.


I wonder if the donors could have known the many lessons the globe would impart beyond the ones they intended? Three that easily come to mind:

Lesson #1: Sixty years of geopolitical change can render a globe nearly unrecognizable. Gallery visitors remark about the globe’s mid-twentieth-century boundaries and country names. An undivided Korea. The size of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Unfamiliar nations like Tanganyika. The legacy of European colonialism: French Indochina, British Somaliland, Belgian Congo, Spanish Guinea.


Lesson #2: There’s a reason why museum professionals tell you not to touch things. The globe is in remarkably good condition, with two exceptions. The first is a dent near the North Pole. The second is a fingertip-sized place that’s been worn down to the metal… right smack in the middle of North Carolina. Decades of people pointing to home have rendered home invisible.


Lesson #3: There’s no substitute for a three-dimensional representation of Earth. Visitors of all ages are magnetically drawn to the globe, despite carrying around high-powered, handheld computers that can simulate the experience of manipulating the planet from outer space.

You can view the globe in our digital collection, Carolina Keepsakes. But remember lesson #3: Nothing beats seeing it in 3D.

Come visit us in person!

UNC alumni: Do you have what we’re looking for?

From the 1974 UNC yearbook, the Yackety Yack.
From the 1974 UNC yearbook, the Yackety Yack.

Any UNC alum who’s recently been on campus knows just how much student fashions have changed since their own time at Carolina. Next February, the North Carolina Collection plans to open an exhibition exploring clothing styles at UNC as they’ve evolved over time. We’d love your help!

We’re in search of clothing to represent every era of student fashion at UNC — whether it’s a class sweater, a dress purchased on Franklin Street, or a piece that captures the essence of your years at Carolina.

Do you have any articles of clothing or shoes you wore as a student? Would you be willing to donate or lend them to the North Carolina Collection for the exhibition?

If so, please contact Linda Jacobson, Keeper of the NCC Gallery, at 919-962-0104 or

Artifact of the Month: 1943 dance card

In 1943, UNC-Greensboro was the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina. And on this day in 1943, first-year students were preparing for their freshman formal. Our May Artifact of the Month is a dance card from that event.


In the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, dance cards provided a structure and etiquette for attendees of formal dances. The dance card — which was really a small booklet — had a number of blank lines corresponding to the dance songs at the event. When a man invited a woman to dance to a particular song, she’d write his name down on the corresponding line.

These days, if a critical mass of people still attended formal dances, someone would design a smart phone app to handle this task. But in the 1940s, paper and pen managed just fine.

And although the dance card is no longer a mainstay of social gatherings, we’ve kept the idea of the dance card alive as a metaphor for describing our social capacity — hence the phrase “my dance card is full.”

dance card




This particular dance card was donated by NCC Gallery volunteer and donor Bob Schreiner, who came across it for sale on the Web. We don’t know anything about its original owner, but the dance card itself conveys enough information to give us an intriguing picture of the life of that Woman’s College student.

The card gives the location, Rosenthal Gymnasium, which was built on the campus in the 1920s and can be seen in this photograph from the County Collection in the NCC Photographic Archives:

Rosenthal Gymnasium

We also know that the official guests included Frank Porter Graham, who was then UNC President, and Woman’s College Chancellor Walter Clinton Jackson.


Graham is described in the 1943 Woman’s College yearbook, Pine Needles, like this:

Dr. Graham is recognized as one of the South’s truly great men, but this is not what endears him to us. He is a particular favorite of ours because of his easy manner, his very effective speeches, and his delightful conversation. Our only complaint is that we see too little of him.

The cover and front page of the 1943 yearbook.
The cover and front page of the 1943 yearbook.

The 1943 Pine Needles also illuminates some aspects of life at this women’s college during World War II. The foreword to the yearbook reads:


“The 1943 Pine Needles is trying to portray for you the true spirit of a great woman’s college; to give you the picture of young women who — in the midst of a world at war — are seeking to equip themselves to play a useful role in a post-war world in need of a responsible youth; and to aid you, the students, to recall the laughter and hard work, the study and recreation, and — above all — the pure joy of living which was so much a part of your college life.

You may not remember… the times you were homesick… your struggle in Statistics… the payments you made in the Treasurer’s Office… the term papers you ground out in the Library… how long the lunch lines were…

But just try to forget: … those solitary walks by the lake… those ever-welcome boxes from home… initiation day for freshman and how queer girls look minus make-up… coming from chapel in the rain… the snowballs you threw… registration day and the struggle to avoid “eight o’clocks”… that blankety-blank alarm clock… dashing into Junior Shop for cokes and crackers between classes… “after-school” hockey games and the appetites you worked up… a W.C. formal with its dance cards and crowded floor… dance group and how you wished you were in it… those dorm parties which always surprised you… riding at Mary Lee… the jam around the Milk Bar on Saturday nights… the sophomore Christmas pageants which were always lovely… waiting for the mail to be put up… rolling your hair at night in hopes that it won’t rain the next day… learning to aim at your target… !

Because dance cards were typically carried by women, they usually list men’s names. But judging by the names on this card, the card holder’s dance partners were all women. Thanks to the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, we can even see photos of those dance partners in the 1946 Pine Needles.

And while the yearbook foreword mentions the “W.C. formal with its dance cards and crowded floor,” it doesn’t give any indication of whether the floor was crowded solely with women. The names on this dance card are our only clue.

If the freshman formal was an all-women event, we’re left to wonder whether that was by design, or whether the war effort overseas had affected the population of local young college men.

If any readers have personal experience or more information, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Thanks to Bob Schreiner for this fantastic donation!