Today over on the DigitalNC blog we’re sharing 10 examples of North Carolina student protests, beginning with the historic Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in on this date in 1960 and continuing up to 2012.
The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is located in Wilson Library and works closely with the North Carolina Collection. We’ll occasionally be cross-blogging some posts that North Carolina Miscellany readers may find interesting.
One hundred years ago today the tall, rather awkward, not quite yet sixteen-year-old Thomas Clayton Wolfe boarded an early morning train in Asheville bound for Durham. There he was met by his brother-in-law who drove him the twelve miles over to Chapel Hill to enroll at the University of North Carolina. Wolfe had longed to attend the University of Virginia. But his father had insisted he go to Chapel Hill, foreseeing a possible legal career and future in politics for his youngest child. Once at Chapel Hill, however, Tom quickly dove into both coursework and campus activities with a passion and focus that quickly made him among the most prominent and popular students on campus.
Upon arrival in Chapel Hill, Tom signed up for room and board at the three-story rooming house of Mrs. Mattie Eva Hardee, a widow originally from Asheville–$15 a month for board and $7.50 for a student’s half of a room. Writing to his brother-in-law a few days later, he declared the food “splendid” but the room rent “exorbitant.” His professors were “all fine fellows” for whom he hoped to “do well in all my studies and my guess is that I’ll have to ‘bone’ up on math.”
During the next four years, Wolfe would do well in his studies—as a junior winning the prize in philosophy for best student thesis and earning multiple A’s that same year from favorite professors Edwin Greenlaw in English, Frederick Koch in dramatic literature, and Horace Williams in philosophy. His achievements in student publications and as a leader of campus organizations were equally outstanding—assistant editor, then managing editor, and finally editor-in-chief of the Tar Heel student newspaper; assistant editor, then assistant editor-in-chief of the University Magazine; associate editor of the Yackety Yack yearbook; member of student council; author of and sometimes actor in plays performed by the campus Carolina Playmakers campus theater company; and class poet.
After graduating from UNC in 1920, Wolfe studied playwriting at Harvard, then moved to New York where he initially did some teaching at New York University. But soon he turned his legendary intellectual energy and passion to fiction writing. In 1929 his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published, winning wide praise among literary critics and creating a sensation because of the thinly-veiled autobiographical nature of the book. The life and experiences of the book’s protagonist, Eugene Gant, are often unmistakably similar to those of Thomas Wolfe. In Look Homeward, Angel, however, young Gant attends the state university at Pulpit Hill, not Chapel Hill. But the sense of adventure, excitement, and intellectual stimulation he experienced there as described in Look Homeward, Angel, echo loudly the fond memories of Thomas Wolfe for a place and time he would later describe as being “as close to magic as I’ve ever been.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your web browsing has included perusal of yearbooks or newspapers from North Carolina colleges and universities, then you likely have seen the work of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Its mission includes scanning and publishing online materials from cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. The center and its hardworking staff are headquartered in Wilson Library, here in Chapel Hill. And this month the Digital Heritage Center is celebrating a milestone. It just added its 200th partner institution. And those partners extend across 119 communities in 73 counties.
Our May Artifact of the Month is the state-of-the-art IBM Personal Computer AT, IBM’s second-generation PC.
While this computer may seem like a mammoth in comparison to the latest MacBook Air, it was IBM’s streamlined and state-of-the-art release in August of 1984. In fact, AT stands for Advanced Technology. Advanced, high-technology features of this computer include: 80286-based processor with 265k RAM, one 1.2-Mbyte floppy disk, and high-capacity diskette and fixed-disk drives. When it first went on sale, all this and more could be had for the low, low price of $3,995!
If the RAM-and-bytes jargon doesn’t make sense to you, we’ll simplify: this computer was pretty high-tech for its time, and it was designed for professional applications, office environments, and personal productivity. This computer in particular was used in an office in Davis Library during the first decades of automated record keeping and online searching.
To put technology growth into perspective: In August of 1984, the IBM Personal Computer AT was released with a memory capacity of 256K RAM. In 1995, the average RAM of most computers was 2 Megabytes. Modern-day RAM is anywhere between 4-12 Gigabytes. In other words, from 1984 to 2016 there was a million-fold increase in computer memory capacity. That’s pretty astounding.
UNC has close ties to IBM because of Fred Brooks, computer architect and founder of UNC’s Computer Science department. Brooks managed the development of IBM’s System/360 family of computers that revolutionized IBM computing, made advancements in capability, and allowed machines to be upward-compatible. Brooks also facilitated the transition of the 360-series from a 6-bit byte to an 8-bit byte. Simply put, a byte is the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer, and for that reason it’s the smallest addressable unit of memory in computers. The switch from a byte composed of 6 bits to that of 8 bits allows us to use lowercase letters.
If, like us, you’re thankful that computer text is not all caps and doesn’t read as if someone is yelling at you, give Fred Brooks a nod if you ever see him on campus.
Our March Artifact of the Month is a UNC sweatshirt that saw two generations of UNC basketball championship wins — and carries the spray paint to prove it.
Wynne Maynor Miller bought this faded Carolina blue shirt during her freshman year in 1982 and was wearing it as she celebrated UNC’s 1985 championship victory on Franklin Street. She recalls:
I bought this blue sweatshirt during my freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill. It witnessed all the chaos on the night we won the NCAA Basketball Championship in 1982. I will never forget the final 30 seconds of the game when the Georgetown Hoyas had one point on us, 62-61. Michael Jordan stole the ball for a one-point win. The students in Morrison Dorm chanted and screamed so loud that I felt the building shake in my 8th floor room… We could hear the whole campus roaring. I grabbed my favorite sweatshirt and we headed to Franklin Street. Beer flowed in the streets, students painted each other with blue spray paint, and naked blue people hung from trees.
I graduated in December 1984, married my college sweetheart, and left my home state — but my heart never left Carolina.
Her daughter, Courtney Miller Hileman, wore the sweatshirt as UNC again won a championship in 2009, in what would have been her final semester had she not graduated early. Her recollection:
I don’t remember the specific details like my mom does. My memory contains a blur of Carolina blue, cheering, and the smell of fire. I remember the feeling of camaraderie gained from sharing a moment in sports history: the thunderous crowd transitioning into silence as we raised our hands and held our breath while watching Tyler Hansbrough at the free throw line; the communal resounding sigh of relief when he made the shot; and the emphatic ‘Go to Hell Duke’ at the end of the game.
The sweatshirt reminds me of that instant bond between alumni that only another Tar Heel can understand.
This storied sweatshirt has clearly been well loved, though it’s in good enough condition that a third generation might be able to share in this tradition. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that it proves to be lucky again.
Among the jewels of the North Carolina Collection are more than 15,000 postcards. And we have one man to thank for about 8,000 of those items—Durwood Barbour. For 25 years, Barbour combed through boxes at coin and postcard shows looking for images that told stories of bygone people, places and doings in his native state. His collection, housed mostly in shoeboxes, grew so large and valuable that he worried about keeping it at his home in Raleigh. In 2006, he generously donated it to the North Carolina Collection. We learned on Sunday that Barbour died on March 2. He was 87.
Barbour was born in the Barbourtown section of Johnston County, an area near Four Oaks. His parents were farmers and he grew up helping in the fields. In 1948 Barbour enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill. He was the first in his immediate family to attend college and he told an interviewer in 2010 that he earned the money for tuition by raising sweet potatoes. Barbour graduated from UNC-CH in 1952 with a degree in geology, and, shortly thereafter, he began work as an asphalt engineer for the state highway department, where he remained for many years. Barbour made his home in Raleigh with his wife and two sons. Later in life, Barbour sold real estate. He was an active member of two Raleigh Methodist churches, including Edenton Street United Methodist, where his memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday. Barbour was also a local historian, working with Todd Johnson, executive director of the Johnston County Heritage Center, to produce a book of images of his native county in 1997.
Barbour’s interest in postcards grew from his hobby of collecting coins and paper money. His wife, Mary Anne, recalled in 2010 that there were frequently a few boxes of postcards at numismatic shows. As her husband perused tables with coins and paper money, she looked at the postcards. Eventually Barbour, too, turned his interest to postcards. And we’re thankful he did.
As a tribute to Durwood Barbour, here are a few postcards of places or activities that represent significant parts of his life. All of Barbour’s postcards—and a few thousand more—are available via North Carolina Postcards.
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
From the mid- to late 1970s
From the 1970s or 1980s
From the early 1980s
From the late 1980s
From the 1990s
From any era
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
* All photos from UNC’s yearbook, The Yackety Yack, except Rainbow Sandals photo by JVO27.
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?
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.”
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:
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 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!