Artifact of the Month: WWI winter service jacket of William B. Umstead

It’s been 100 years since the first war that consumed the entire world. The North Carolina Collection Gallery explores the local implications of that global war in its current exhibition, “Doing Our Bit: UNC and the Great War.” Our April Artifact of the Month, William B. Umstead’s winter service jacket, is featured in the exhibition.

William B. Umstead's winter service jacket

William B. Umstead (1895-1954) was born on a farm in Durham County. He graduated from UNC in 1916 with a bachelor’s degree in history. After a year teaching high school history Umstead volunteered for the army when the US declared war. He saw combat in France and achieved the rank of first lieutenant.

Umstead later served as a representative in the US House, a US senator, and governor of North Carolina.

In a diary entry dated August 29, 1917, Umstead poignantly describes saying goodbye to his elderly parents before heading off to war:

Probably the saddest time I have ever spent was Mon. night. Aug 27 when I left home. I left father and mother in tears, and it almost wrung my heart from within me. To leave them, old and feeble at home alone was the most difficult task of my life. It is easy enough to go to the execution of one’s duty, when that duty can mean death, when there is no one but yourself, but to leave parents whose joy in life rests in their paternal interest in you, is the saddest and most trying of all tasks.

You can see Umstead’s jacket, diary, campaign hat, and UNC yearbook photo in the exhibition until June 11.

Artifact of the Month: A fraudulent North Carolina note

Early North Carolinians experienced many problems and frustrations with their money, and not just from having too little of it. One problem was that some of the money in circulation was fraudulent. We use this term rather than counterfeit because the problem went beyond counterfeiting — producing copies of genuine notes.

The North Carolina Collection Gallery recently acquired a “raised” note from the 1778 series of paper money. A genuine note is said to be raised when it has been altered to appear to be of higher denomination than it is.

The note below, shown front and back, at first glance appears to be worth four dollars. But reading the small print on the front — the main body of text or the vertical printing to the left — reveals that the note is worth one-fourth dollar. That’s a big difference.

front of fraudulent note
Front of fraudulent note
Back of fraudulent note
Back of fraudulent note

Compare the genuine but raised note to an unaltered example, below, also in our collection.

Unaltered note on the left; fraudulent note on the right.
Front of unaltered note on the left; fraudulent note on the right. Click for larger image.
Unaltered note on left; fraudulent note on right.
Back of unaltered note on the left; fraudulent note on the right. Click for larger image.

The raised note is a crude job, akin to a bad Photoshop job today.

Did it pass? Maybe.

Much paper money in circulation at the time was heavily worn, significantly more so than the relatively pristine unaltered 1778 specimen shown here. The holes and other defects produced by the raising might not alarm a person used to handling rags that had to serve well into frail old age.

Secondly, people may not have bothered to read the small print, especially if they had seen this type of note before.

Third, unusual (by present standards) denominations — such as four dollars — were more common before the Civil War, and would not have raised suspicions. And there was a genuine four-dollar note in the 1778 series, although it had a motto different from that of the quarter-dollar note.

The simple printing technology of the day, devoid of anti-counterfeiting measures, certainly did little to discourage crooks. Printing technology improved, but so did the skills of the charlatans. Raising genuine notes persisted well into the 19th century as a minor form of easy money making. Today, note raising is a seldom-encountered form of fraud. Modern crooks seem to do just fine with plain counterfeiting.

Artifact of the Month: Saunders Hall plaque

This month’s Artifact of the Month is the plaque that appeared on the building now known as Carolina Hall.

Image of a Plaque

Completed in 1922, the academic building originally got its name from class of 1854 graduate William Lawrence Saunders. Leading into 2015, UNC students objected to Saunders’ reported membership in the Ku Klux Klan and issued a call to action. According to the News and Observer, the UNC Board of Trustees deliberated for “about a year,” eventually voting 10-3 to select a more “unifying name.”

Even before the Board’s deliberation, some students proposed that the building should honor anthropologist and writer Zora Neal Hurston. The students advocated for that name because as an African American woman, her identity contrasted the issues of racism and sexism perpetuated by having Saunders’ name on the building. Hurston also had ties to the University: in 1939 she attended writing classes at UNC with playwright Paul Green. Some activists used hashtags like “#HurstonHall” on Twitter, while others made T-shirts like this one, from the University Archives’ digital T-shirt archive.

Image of a T-Shirt

On May 28, 2015, the UNC Board of Trustees proceeded with renaming Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. The Board also issued a sixteen-year moratorium on renaming historic buildings. According to The Daily Tar Heel, some activists critiqued the moratorium as well as the selection of the name “Carolina Hall.”

In a May 2015 article of the Daily Tar Heel, senior Judy Robbins was quoted as saying, “Renaming it Carolina Hall is automatically silencing all of the students who worked on this and also all students of color who have ever attended UNC and ever will attend UNC.” Carolina Hall officially reopened in the fall of that same year with a new name plaque. The old Saunders Hall plaque came to the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

On November 11, 2016, a new exhibit opened exploring the history of the building’s name, William Saunders, and the Reconstruction era.

Picture of Exhibit

Artifact of the Month: Photograph of textile workers with Calvin Coolidge

In May 1926, roughly 150 female textile mill workers from Charlotte and Gastonia paid a visit to President Calvin Coolidge in the White House. A photograph from their visit is our January Artifact of the Month.

white house photo

The newspaper accounts we’ve found don’t reveal how the visit was initiated, but they do tell us that the girls and women worked hard to fund their trip, “producing plays, selling movie tickets, staging parties, making and selling candy, and in a dozen other ways” — in addition to the hard work they were undoubtedly doing in the mill.

At the White House, the delegation presented the president with Charlotte-made cloth and Gastonia spun yarns from the Chadwick-Hoskins and the Highland Park Mills. The question on everyone’s mind was whether Coolidge would meet the women personally; he hadn’t shaken any hands since his father’s death months before.

But Coolidge shook the hand of every member of the group — to the delight of the women and of newspaper headline writers, who gushed effusively:

Coolidge Gives Carolina Girls Genuine Thrill
Shakes Hands with 150 Piedmont Textile Workers

Young Women Having Time of Their Lives
Worshiped Sunday in Same Church with President and Mrs. Coolidge

142 Carolina Industrial Girls Honored in Washington
Appearance and Conduct Make Hit in National Folk

The other men in the photo are US Senator Lee Slater Overman and US Congressman A.L. Bulwinkle, both from North Carolina, with whom the delegation met. Bulwinkle also acted as the group’s official escort in Washington.

white house photo detail

For firsthand perspective on the event, one newspaper article quotes a young women identified as “pretty 16-year-old Beulah Crouch, who, with the aid of her brother, supports her mother, younger sister and invalid brother by her work in the Nebel Knitting Mills of Charlotte.” Crouch says, “This trip has taught us many things, and one of them is how to act in a large crowd, and to be proud of our country. We shall have lots and lots to look back to in the future.”

We’re grateful to Charlotte Observer librarian Maria David for salvaging this photo and donating it to the North Carolina Collection, as well as to Lew Powell for conveying it to us. Thanks, too, to NCC Photographic Archivist Stephen Fletcher for research help and for overseeing the proper care and housing for this unique photographic treasure.

Artifact of the Month: Goody’s Headache Powder store poster

It’s hard to believe that, in more than thirteen years of this blog, we haven’t once mentioned Goody’s Headache Powders. But a search through our archive suggests that may well be true. We’ll remedy that [pun sheepishly intended] with our December Artifact of the Month, a Goody’s Headache Powder store poster.

Goody's Headache Powders sign

According to NCPedia, headache powders have traditionally been popular in North Carolina and throughout the South. Marketed as fast-acting because there’s no pill to dissolve, these remedies were originally formulated as powders because they were cheaper to produce than pills.

The Goody’s brand was born in Winston-Salem in 1932 when tobacco and candy wholesaler A. Thad Lewallen bought the formula from pharmacist Martin C. (Goody) Goodman.

This sign was part of a donation brought to us by retired journalist and frequent Miscellany contributor Lew Powell, who visits the Gallery every December with a delightful aggregation of North Carolina ephemera.

He shared our amusement at the slogan “They are good,” which its creators considered so profound they rendered it in quotation marks.

Lew Powell
Lew Powell lays out his amazing finds.

Based on the price — 2 powders for a nickel, 12 for a quarter — Powell’s educated guess is that the sign dates from 1932 to 1950. We’d welcome comments from any readers in the know who could narrow that down further.

We’re grateful to Lew for another fantastic trove of North Caroliniana. Readers who are interested in seeing more can view the Lew Powell digital collection. It contains only a fraction of the huge collection, but we’ll continue adding to it!

Artifacts of the Month: Vintage regional soda bottles

Before the era of “Big Soda,” regional soft drinks occupied a greater share of retail shelves than they do today. Our November Artifacts of the Month offer a window into that time.

Sun-Rise and Smith's bottles

bottle backs

We found these two rather ordinary looking vintage soda bottles last year at an antique store in Burlington, N.C.  These brands are no longer made but serve as a reminder of the many different carbonated beverages once sold alongside soft drink giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola. We’ll add these bottles to Gallery holdings related to North Carolina and the history of carbonated beverages.

Sun-Rise Beverages began selling soda in 1910 in North Tazewell, Virginia. The Sun-Rise line offered root beer and fruit-flavored drinks such as Black Cherry and Lemon Sour. The company was sold a number of times in the twentieth century before Coca-Cola took over bottling and distribution in the 1950s. This bottle from the 1960s or 70s comes from the Burlington, N.C. Coca-Cola bottling plant. 

Our research into the story of the Smith Beverage Company has been less fruitful. The company was located in Burlington, but little information exists about it. An advertisement in the Burlington Daily-Times News of January 24, 1950 indicates that the Smith Beverage Company also distributed Cheerwine, a soft drink introduced in Salisbury by Lewis D. Peeler in 1917. 


Before Cheerwine, Peeler first held a bottling franchise for a short-lived brand of soda called Mint Cola, which was headquartered in Tennessee. 

Mint Cola bottle

Peeler developed the less sweet cherry-flavored Cheerwine in response to sugar shortages during World War I.   

Do you know anything more about Smith Beverage Company in Burlington? Please tell us in the comments!

Artifact of the Month: Poster from Herbert Hoover’s 1928 campaign

With all the media attention on North Carolina’s role in the 2016 election, it seems fitting to feature an artifact that represents the Ghost of Campaigns Past. Our October Artifact of the Month is a poster from Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign of 1928.

Herbert Hoover campaign poster

The text of the poster reads:


The above WHITE MEN AND WOMEN will not vote for Herbert Hoover for President, November 6, 1928, because Pet Denton, Smith Registrar, of Zebulon, Wake County, N.C., refused to register them. Some were refused on the ground of EDUCATIONAL DISQUALIFICATION, and others under a false claim of non-residence.

All have lived in the State all of their lives and in Denton’s precinct for more than seven months; some for many years.

============= EACH OF THEM BEGS YOU TO =============

Cast a Vote for Hoover for Them
Tammany System of Politics in North Carolina

The poster decries the consequences of discriminatory voting restrictions that had been established in North Carolina at the turn of the twentieth century. Remarkably, the poster doesn’t condemn the laws for being racist; instead it objects to their discrimination against white people.

In 1900 the state legislature had passed laws limiting the nearly universal male suffrage established by the North Carolina constitution of 1868. The laws made North Carolina one of many Southern states to enact poll taxes and literacy tests as a requirement for voting.

Poll taxes and literacy tests were used to deny voting rights to African Americans and American Indians. And while poll taxes were prohibited by the North Carolina legislature in 1920, literacy test laws remained on the books, excluding many potential voters from participating in the 1928 election.

Such laws, of course, can be only so targeted in their discrimination. The creator of this poster laments the laws’ unintended effects — namely that they had prevented white, lifelong North Carolinians from voting.

The poster ties such practices to those of New York’s Tammany Hall political organization, widely condemned for its corruption. Democratic candidate Al Smith lost the election to Hoover partly on the basis of his association with Tammany Hall — although his anti-Prohibition stance and his Catholic faith also played significant roles in his defeat.

Literacy tests were widely used in North Carolina until the US Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the federal government began to supervise state voting practices.

Visit the new Lew Powell digital collection!

This poster is part of the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, which we wrote about in September. You can see the poster and other items from the Lew Powell collection in the Lew Powell digital collection.

Artifact of the Month: James Taylor Hollywood Bowl poster

Forty-five years ago, James Taylor was a young, long-haired songwriter with just a couple albums under his belt. On September 18, 1971 he played a gig at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California. Our September Artifact of the Month is a poster from that appearance.


Taylor, who spent much of his childhood in Chapel Hill, later said of the performance, “When you play the Hollywood Bowl, you have a feeling — like at Carnegie Hall or the Royal Albert Hall in London — that you are playing in a major place, a place that has a lot of weight and is an important part of musical history. You have a feeling of having arrived.” (Source:

Visit the new Lew Powell digital collection!

The poster was donated by Lew Powell, author, retired newspaperman, frequent North Carolina Miscellany contributor, and prolific Gallery donor. Miscellany readers are already familiar with Powell’s radar-like attention to the unusual, the offbeat, the compelling — those details that make North Carolina the unique place that it is. It’s a sensibility Powell brings to his collecting activities as well.

We’re pleased to announce the publication of a digital collection of materials donated by Lew Powell. The collection showcases his diverse collecting interests, which include political campaign materials, regional travel souvenirs, protest movements, musical ephemera such as concert posters and tickets, pinback buttons, stickers and decals, advertisements for North Carolina products, college and professional athletic teams, and more.

The collection currently contains about 200 items, with more to be added in the future. We’re excited to expose a broader audience to these materials, which provide a unique window into North Carolina’s cultural, social, and political history through the lens of material culture.

Artifacts of the Month: Daily Grind menu board and stool

As more than 29,000 students return to Carolina’s campus, we welcome them back with our August Artifacts of the Month, a menu board and stool from the Daily Grind Café. The Daily Grind served coffee in a small, lively space adjacent to UNC’s Student Stores for more than twenty-two years. When news broke at the end of last school year that the Café would close in the summer of 2016, students, faculty, and staff mourned the loss of a campus institution.

Menu Board 500

These items serve as a reminder of just how fun and innovative The Daily Grind was. For over two decades, the cafe provided students with freshly brewed, locally roasted coffee in a multitude of ways — like their Crème Brulee and Snickerdoodle “Magical Mochas,” as seen on this menu board.

Stool 300

One-of-a-kind painted stools like this one offered the perfect perch for employees of the one-of-a-kind café, where students met up with friends, chatted with professors, or just took a break as they looked out into the Pit.

Stool Top 500

After Barnes and Noble assumed management of the Student Stores, the Daily Grind Café moved out of its location at the heart of campus. Yet students should have no fear! The Friends Café at the Health Sciences Library still serves the same “mean beans” as its sister café, with an extensive espresso drink list and fresh treats served every weekday.

The North Carolina Collection Gallery is honored to preserve these and other Daily Grind artifacts as a reminder of a beloved campus café. Getting coffee at the Daily Grind was more than a quick break — it was a UNC tradition.

For more Carolina traditions, both old and new, visit the exhibit Classic Carolina: Traditions Then and Now in the Gallery. The exhibit, dedicated to all of our new Tar Heels, shares Carolina food, athletic, and dorm traditions from the mid-twentieth century.

Artifact of the month: Caroline Lee Hentz’s lap desk, 19th century

Ideas about what constitutes portability have changed dramatically over the past 150 years. One piece of evidence for this (extremely non-controversial) claim is our July Artifact of the Month, a 19th-century lap desk.


Lap desks, popular in the 19th-century, enabled their owners to do their writing on the go. A lap desk provided an expansive flat writing surface that folded up neatly into a (relatively) compact box, as well as storage for ink wells, sand wells, pens, and quills.

Lap desk, open
Lap desk, open

This particular example belonged to Caroline Lee Hentz, an author and anti-abolitionist from Massachusetts. A prolific writer, Hentz produced a long list of poems, plays, romantic novels, and short stories — some of them, perhaps, written on this desk.

Image from the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives' Portrait Collection.
Caroline Lee Hentz. Image from the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives’ Portrait Collection.

Hentz moved to North Carolina with her husband when he began a position as a language professor at UNC. In Chapel Hill, Hentz met the enslaved poet George Moses Horton and became a great supporter of his work. Hentz’s 1833 novel Lovell’s Folly included an enslaved poet named George, who was openly based on Horton. She served as a benefactress to Horton, helping to edit, promote, and support the publication of his work.

Historical marker commemorating the life of George Moses Horton.
Historical marker commemorating the life of George Moses Horton.

Oddly, Hentz was also one of the era’s most influential defenders of slavery. Her widely-read novel The Planter’s Northern Bride is a direct reply to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist work Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Lovell’s Folly, George, admired for his poetry, is granted his freedom. However, as a plot device that reinforced Hentz’s belief that benevolent masters offer slaves a good life, the character George chooses to stay on the plantation.

The real Horton worked tirelessly in an effort to buy his own freedom.

Works by Hentz and Horton, including one of Horton’s poem manuscripts, can be seen in the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s current exhibition. Set in the Southern Part of Heaven: Chapel Hill Through Authors’ Eyes features 35 books by both professional and amateur writers. Included are historical accounts, short stories, mysteries, and even a fantasy-tinged romance with scenes that take place in Gimghoul Castle. Full details can be found on the Library’s blog.