New Collection: Martha Flowers Papers

We are excited to announce the Martha Flowers papers are now open for research. This collection contains programs, clippings, and photographs documenting the career and personal life of the legendary actress, singer, and UNC professor. Many of these items highlight Flowers’s performances in “Porgy and Bess” in the 1950s and 1960s.

Flowers, a Winston-Salem native, graduated from Fisk University before continuing her music studies at The Julliard School in New York City where she began her career as an opera singer.

Black and white profile image of Martha Flowers
Wellington Jones Concert series program

The renowned soprano toured internationally in the touring company as Bess in  “Porgy and Bess,” during the 1950s and 1960s, performing in 29 countries on four continents, and received numerous awards. Included in the collections are photographs of the cast in costume, programs from  international shows, and programs from the Flowers’ solo shows.

In 1973, Flowers joined the faculty in the Department of Music at UNC-Chapel Hill, becoming the first Black faculty member in the department. Flowers’s arrival was covered by Sadie Copland for Black Ink, the newspaper of the Black Student Movement. Copland wrote that Flowers “wanted to teach where she was most needed. Since there were no Black music instructors here, but there were Black students in the program, she decided UNC was where she could best fulfill this need.” During her tenure at UNC, she taught courses in voice, diction, and Afro-American music, and performed in faculty recitals in the Hill Hall Auditorium (now Moeser Auditorium).

Martha Flowers at piano with group of UNC Students.
Martha Flowers and UNC class, ca. 1970s.

Learn More:

Marc Callahan, David Garcia, and LaToya Lain, “DWW: Martha Flowers: Black Music Faculty Trailblazer.” UNC Department of Music, 11 November 2020.

UNC-CH honors Black music faculty trailblazer, Martha Flowers. The Durham Voice.

Remembering Martha Flowers (1926-2022). UNC Department of Music, June 3, 2022.

UNC Spring Commencement Speakers: A Historic List

The spring commencement ceremony has been a time for reflection and celebration since UNC’s first commencement in 1798. Commencement has traditionally included a featured speaker who provides insight and advice for the graduating students. These speakers have often included prominent people well known through their work in politics, arts, business, journalism, and public service. This list includes UNC-Chapel Hill’s featured spring commencement speakers from 1951-2022.

Year Speaker Role and Affiliation
2022 Frank Bruni Author, Journalist, New York Times
2021 Anthony Fauci and Kizzmekia Corbett (delivered virtually) Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Fauci), research fellow and scientific lead for the Coronaviruses Vaccines and Immunopathologies Team at the National Institutes of Health (Corbett)
2020 Roy Williams (delayed until October 2020) UNC Men’s Basketball Coach
2019 Jonathan Reckford CEO, Habitat for Humanity
2018 Rye Barcott Author, founder Carolina for Kibera
2017 Brooke Baldwin CNN Correspondent
2016 Anne-Marie Slaughter Foreign policy analyst
2015 Jason Kilar Former CEO, Hulu
2014 Atul Gawande Author, Surgeon
2013 Steve Case Co-founder, AOL
2012 Mike Bloomberg Mayor of New York City
2011 E.O. Wilson Author, Biodiversity scholar
2010 John Grisham Author
2009 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Anglican archbishop, Activist
2008 Jessye Norman Opera singer
2007 Madeleine Albright Former U.S. Secretary of State
2006 Wendy Kopp Founder, Teach for America
2005 Rev. Peter Gomes Theologian, Harvard University Divinity School
2004 Julius Chambers Attorney and Civil Rights activist
2003 Bill Cosby Actor, comedian
2002 John Edwards U.S. Senator, North Carolina
2001 Stuart Scott ESPN Anchor
2000 Stuart E. Eisenstat Deputy Secretary, U.S. Treasury
1999 Bill Bradley Former basketball player, U.S. Senator
1998 Marian Wright Edelman Children’s Defense Fund
1997 Erskine B. Bowles White House Chief of Staff
1996 Seamus Heaney Poet, Nobel Laureate
1995 Johnnetta B. Cole President, Spelman College
1994 Francis Collins Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
1993 Ted Turner Broadcaster
1992 David Brinkley News anchor
1991 Lawrence Douglas Wilder Governor of Virginia
1990 Hugh L. McColl Bank of America
1989 Roger H. Mudd News anchor
1988 Dale Bumpers U.S. Senator, Arkansas
1987 Peter V. Ueberroth Commissioner, Major League Baseball
1986 James G. Martin Governor of North Carolina
1985 Charles Kuralt  CBS News reporter
1984 William Leuchtenburg UNC Professor of History
1983 Jim Leutze UNC Professor, Curriculum of Peace, War, and Defense
1982 Martha Nell Hardy UNC Professor, Department of Communications
1981 J. Carlyle Sitterson Former UNC Chancellor
1980 Doris Betts UNC Professor, Creative Writing
1979 Richard J. Richardson UNC Provost
1978 Jim Hunt Governor of North Carolina
1977 Edward Bernstein President of EMB Research Economists
1976 J.W. Fulbright Former U.S. Senator, Missouri
1975 John Caldwell Chancellor, N.C. State University
1974 James Holshouser, Jr. Governor of North Carolina
1973 Juanita Kreps Professor of Economics, Duke University
1972 Elizabeth Koontz Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
1971 J. Carlyle Sitterson UNC Chancellor
1970 Clifton Daniels New York Times
1969 James A. Shannon Former director, National Institutes of Health
1968 Alexander Heard Chancellor, Vanderbilt University
1967 Gordon Blackwell President, Furman University
1966 Frank Porter Graham Former President, UNC
1965 Douglas M. Knight President, Duke University
1964 Terry Sanford Governor, North Carolina
1963 August Heckscher President’s Special Assistant on the Arts
1962 Ralph McGill Publisher, Atlanta Journal Constitution
1961 Lenoir Chambers Newspaper editor
1960 Luther Hodges Governor of North Carolina
1959 Vermont C. Royster Newspaper editor
1958 Norman Cousins Editor, Saturday Review of Literature
1957 Robert B. House Chancellor, UNC
1956 Barnaby C. Keeney President, Brown University
1955 Carl Sandburg Author
1954 Andrew J. Warren Rockefeller Foundation
1953 Francis P. Gaines President, Washington & Lee University
1952 Gordon Gray President, Consolidated University of North Carolina
1951 William Clyde DeVane Yale University

Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC: A Timeline

This timeline highlights some of the key people and events in the development and growth of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. The historic records of the department have been recently transferred to the University Archives and are now available for research.

March 1970: The student group Female Liberation issues a list of demands, one of which calls for “inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum.” [Source: Records of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 1920-2004, University Archives. Box 35: Female Liberation, 1969-1974 Demands.]

9. inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum and inclusion and re-evaluation of women in the subject matter of existing courses; Women are either patronized or ignored in courses, or their role is defined as erotic, troublesome and/or neurotic. It is certainly no accident that women students learn that all accomplishment and honor is male.
Excerpt from the Female Liberation demands, 1970, calling for women’s studies classes.

February 1973: The University Women for Affirmative Action organizes with the goal of ending discrimination based on gender at UNC. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

November 1974: Joan Scott, a faculty member in the Department of History, asks the Faculty Council to investigate the possibility of establishing a Women’s Studies program. At the Council’s request, Chancellor Nelson Ferebee Taylor appoints a committee to explore the idea. [Source: Interview with Mary Turner Lane, 1986-1987. Southern Oral History Program Interviews, Southern Historical Collection]

April 1975: The Chancellor’s committee to explore the creation of a Women’s Studies program unanimously recommends the creation of such a program. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

Article headline: Women's Studies. Renovating the Ivory Towers.
Excerpt from an article about Women’s Studies programs from the Nov/Dec 1975 issue of She.

July 1976: Professor Mary Turner Lane agrees to serve as the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program. Dr. Lane, a professor in the School of Education, began as an instructor in 1954. During her time at the UNC, Lane worked to end social limitations for female students. Lane also helped found the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals and served as a chair of the Committee on the Status of Women. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

Spring 1977: The Women’s Studies curriculum begins offering courses. Women’s Studies is offered as an area of concentration under the Interdisciplinary Studies major. [Sources:  Pamela Dean, Women On the Hill: A History of Women at the University of North Carolina; Daily Tar Heel, 10/22/1976]

Spring 1978: Women’s Studies 50 is established as a required introductory course. At this time, the Women’s Studies Program consists of about 25 courses. [Source: She, September 1977]

1979: The program graduates its first major, Sandra Jo Martin. Martin was the editor of She and an intern with the Council on the Status of Women. [Source: Pamela Dean, Women On the Hill: A History of Women at the University of North Carolina]

1982: The Duke-UNC Center for Research on Women is established to promote Women’s Studies scholarship, research, and curriculum development in the South. [Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1917-2002, University Archives. Series 2: Academic Programs, Subseries 2: General. Women’s Studies, Curriculum in: General, 1995-1997]

February 1988: The UNC Faculty Council approves a proposal to make the Women’s Studies Program an independent curriculum offering a bachelor’s degree. The change was not approved by the UNC System. [Source: Daily Tar Heel, 2/25/1988; Daily Tar Heel, 4/1/1992]

1988: The Women’s Studies program offers a certificate in Women’s Studies. Many students used this certificate similarly to a minor in other fields in order to include Women’s Studies on their transcript without majoring in the program. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, University Archives.  Folder: Annual Report 1990-91]

1989-1990: Graduate students at UNC organize the conference “Women’s Studies in the Triangle.” [Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, University Archives. Folder: Annual Report 1989-90] 

31 July 1992: The UNC System Board of Governors approved the independent Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies as a full-fledged curriculum (a B.A. degree in Women’s Studies). Students could now major in Women’s Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Annual Report 1992-93] 

1993: The Women in Science program, housed in the Women’s Studies office, was established. The program contemplated issues leading to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the sciences. The program hosted seminars and discussions on a range of topics such as the daily lived experience of women in science and challenges faced by women in the sciences. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Annual Report 1994-95] 

1994: A graduate minor in Women’s Studies established.  [Source: Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1917-2002, University Archives. Series 2: Academic Programs, Subseries 2: General. Women’s Studies, Curriculum in: General, 1992-1994]

March 1996: During the 1996-97 school year, The Women’s Studies department celebrates its 20th anniversary. Part of this celebration includes a keynote address by Professor Joan Scott on “Gender and the Politics of Higher Education.” [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008]

2004: The Women’s Studies program begins offering a minor in Sexuality Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Sexuality Studies Minor]

July 2012: The Department of Women’s Studies becomes the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008]

 

 

 

Announcing a Change in Records Management: UNC-Chapel Hill Now Using the UNC System Records Schedule

A New Records Schedule for UNC-Chapel Hill

This spring brought significant news in records management on our campus. Effective immediately, UNC-Chapel Hill will no longer rely on a separate records retention and disposition schedule. Instead, we will use the UNC System schedule.

Why Was This Change Made?

For the past several years, the State Archives of North Carolina, which oversees records management activities throughout state government, has been working to consolidate local schedules in order to ensure consistency across state agencies and to make it easier to update and maintain records schedules. UNC-Chapel Hill was the only UNC System school to maintain a separate records schedule. By using the UNC System schedule we will bring our record retention and disposition practices into line with those of our colleagues at other UNC System schools throughout the state.

What Effect Will This Have on Records Management in My Office?

Probably very little. The retention requirements in the UNC System schedule match those in the separate UNC-Chapel Hill schedule in nearly every case. When there are differences, we will work with the State Archives to determine the proper requirements and update the records schedule as necessary. The biggest thing all of us will have to get used to is looking to a new document for all our records management questions.

What If There are Records in my Office That Are Not Covered in the UNC System Schedule?

This is bound to happen as we work through the process of reconciling the UNC-Chapel Hill schedule with the UNC System requirements. If you have documents in your office that do not appear to be represented in the UNC System schedule, please contact us right away: archives@unc.edu. We’ll work with you to figure out the appropriate retention and disposition plan and will continue to collaborate with the State Archives to ensure that the UNC System schedule covers all record types produced on our campus.

Will My Office Still Need to Work with the UNC-Chapel Hill University Archives?

Yes! We are still your first point of contact for all of your records management questions and will continue to be the repository for the official records of the university. We are still getting used to the UNC System schedule ourselves, but we are available to work with you to interpret the requirements in the records schedule and answer any questions you have.

Will You Offer Training on Using the UNC System schedule?

Yes! We will continue to offer records management training through Carolina Talent. These sessions will cover records management basics and will be updated to reflect the use of the UNC System schedule. Our Guide to Records Management at UNC-Chapel Hill has also been updated and continues to be the best first stop for your records management questions.

Edwina Thomas Applies to Graduate School at UNC in 1938

After working its way through the Missouri state and federal courts, the landmark case Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada challenging segregation in higher education came to a close in 1938. In December of that year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Lloyd Gaines had been unfairly denied admission to the University of Missouri Law School because he was Black. When Gaines first challenged his rejection, the University offered to pay for him to attend law school outside the state. Gaines’ lawyer, Charles Hamilton Houston, masterfully convinced the courts that if Gaines could not attend the University of Missouri, the state would have to build a law school for Blacks equal to that of whites, recalling the “separate but equal” doctrine laid down in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. The decision was to enroll Gaines at the University of Missouri.

That year, in 1938, with the Gaines decision clearly having created fissures in the walls of Jim Crow, Black students continued pushing on the walls surrounding UNC. In late 1938, Pauli Murray applied to UNC’s graduate school and was denied. Her subsequent exchange with President Frank Porter Graham reveals both her genius and the tenuousness of Graham’s liberal position on race and integration.

Another Black woman applied earlier that year in 1938. Her name was Edwina Thomas. Her exchanges with Frank Porter Graham and Dean W.W. Pierson can also be found with Pauli Murray’s via the Records of the Office of the President of the UNC System Frank Porter Graham (1932-1949). When Thomas wrote to UNC asking the Dean for an application, the Gaines case had not yet been decided, but she was certainly very well aware of the details of the case and its chances for success.

Scan of letter April 1938 Dean Pearson to Edwina Thomas
In April 1938, Dean W.W. Pierson wrote to Edwina Thomas explaining why she would not be admitted to graduate school at UNC.

In January of 1938, Edwina Thomas, student at Talladega College in Alabama and of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, applied to graduate school at UNC. She requested an application by mail, which she filled out and returned. It is very unlikely that applications to the University asked for race – surely it was just assumed all applicants would be white. It appears to have taken some time for the Dean to realize that Thomas was Black. Pierson responds to Thomas at Talladega, dated April 27, 1938: “It is my understanding that it is the public policy of the State of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina not to admit members of the colored race to the University. Such admission would entail a reversal of a social policy of long standing and would require action to that effect by the trustees of the institution. I withhold therefore a ruling as to your academic eligibility for admission.”

In May, Thomas writes directly to President Frank Porter Graham, with echoes of the Gaines case in her response: “As I am unable financially to cope with the expenses of graduate schools outside my own state, I should like very much for you to advise me as to just what I can expect from the State of North Carolina in the way of help financially if I am to be denied admission to the State University because of my race.” Graham does respond to Thomas, assuring that despite the “laws of North Carolina with regard to providing separate schools for the two races, and the long established public policy of the state, I took the matter of your letter up with the Governor of our state,” and that the General Assembly should discuss the issue at some point the next year.

Scan of letter June 1938 Edwina Thomas to Frank Graham
In June 1938, Edwina Thomas writes from Winston-Salem stating that she is anxious to hear new of decisions regarding higher education and race.

In June 1938, Thomas writes Graham again, and on the letterhead of Wentz Memorial Congregational Church, where her father was Reverend. Referring to any possible decisions made at the state level regarding admission or funding of Black education, she says, “I look forward with great anticipation to any new developments along this line.”

Undeterred, Edwina Thomas still presses President Graham, writing from her home in Winston-Salem in August 1938, indicating that she is very much aware of legal and political tides within North Carolina: “Since a special session of the state legislature has been called, I was wondering the problem of facilities for negro graduate students could not be presented at this time. If this matter could be disposed of during this special session it would be considerably helpful for students, like myself, who wish to attend graduate school next year (next school year).” She closes, “I do hope that this very pressing problem can be mitigated soon.” Graham responds with news that neither education funding nor admission of Black students were discussed at the special session and would not be revisited until January 1939.

This is the extent of correspondence between Edwina Thomas and UNC administrators. She would not waste time waiting and went on to graduate school at Ohio State. Engaged as a scholar and leader, she became a lifelong member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. It is not clear if Graham took Thomas’ case specifically to the Governor at the time, as he claimed. The result would have been predictable, as Governor Clyde Hoey was a virulent segregationist and white supremacist.

Photograph of Edwina Thomas from 1963
Photograph of Edwina Thomas, The Ivy Leaf, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, June 1963

Edwina Theolyne Thomas was born in 1918 in Alabama to parents the Reverend George Jefferson Thomas and Winnie Cornelia Whitaker. Edwina’s father, originally from Georgia, was the leader of Winston-Salem’s Wentz Memorial Church, a Congregational Church. Before taking over at Wentz in 1924, George Thomas had been the field superintendent for Congregational Churches in Georgia and the Carolinas. When Thomas applied to UNC, she was 20 years old. A few years later when Thomas was 22, she married attorney H. Alfred Glascor, of Columbus, Ohio, and they lived some time in his hometown. Her marriage ended and she moved to Wisconsin, where Thomas became a renowned clinical psychologist at the Milwaukee County Memorial Hospital, a position she held for more than twenty years. There, she formed its first hospital outpatient unit in 1949. Tragically, Thomas died in a car accident in 1968 at age 50, and was mourned by the Milwaukee Star newspaper with a poem, “The Milwaukee Star mourns the loss/Of such an asset to our community;/But realize that one who lived so well/Will continue in the hereafter with impunity.”

New Names on the Landscape

Zora Neale Hurston Hall sign in the design of a plaque.
Sign for Zora Neale Hurston Hall, created by UNC art student Jeanine Tatlock in 2017.

In the wake of the recent decision by the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees to rescind the 16-year moratorium on building renaming that was enacted in 2015, many members of the UNC community have suggested potential new namesakes for campus buildings and public spaces.

In this post, we’re gathering some of the names that have come up most often and sharing suggested resources for learning more. We’ll update the post with new names and resources based on the feedback we receive.

Pauli Murray

Pauli Murray’s name often comes up in discussions about potential new namesakes for UNC buildings. An influential and inspirational author, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest, Murray had lifelong ties to UNC. She was a descendant of university trustee James Strudwick Smith and was related to benefactor Mary Ruffin Smith (namesake of Smith Building at UNC). Murray applied to attend graduate school at UNC in 1938 and was rejected because she was an African American. Four decades later, in recognition of Murray’s exceptional career, UNC offered Murray an honorary degree. She ultimately declined, citing the university’s continued failure to provide equal opportunities to Black students. UNC would not be the first University to name a building for Murray. In 2017 Yale University dedicated Pauli Murray College, a new residential building.

Suggested Resources:

henry owl

Henry Owl, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, became the first Native American student to attend UNC when he enrolled to attend graduate school in 1928. He graduated the following year with a master’s degree in history. Owl’s thesis, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Before and After Removal, is an important history of the Cherokee.

Suggested Resources:

james cates

Plaque honoring James Cates
This plaque honoring James Cates was installed in the Pit by student activists in February 2019. Photo by Sarah Lundgren, Daily Tar Heel.

Chapel Hill native James Cates was murdered by a white supremacist biker gang in 1970 following a dance on campus. After he was stabbed in the Pit, crucial minutes passed before Cates received medical attention, a delay many on the scene attributed to the inaction of local police. Cates’s killers were ultimately acquitted by an Orange County jury. In 1971 students rallied to protest Cates’s killing. In 2019, while the University community continued to debate the toppling of the statue on top of the Confederate monument, student activists installed a plaque commemorating Cates in the Pit. The memorial was soon removed by campus officials.

Suggested Resources:

Zora Neale Hurston

Banner reading "Hurston Hall" displayed over the door of Saunders Hall in 2015.
Hurston Hall banner on (then) Saunders Hall, April 2015. Photo by Stephanie Lamm, Daily Tar Heel.

In the mid 2010s, UNC student and faculty activists urged campus administrators to rename Saunders Hall for author Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston had a brief connection to UNC through playwright and faculty member Paul Green. Hurston visited campus many times in the late 1930s. She spoke at a drama conference on campus in 1939 and participated in a playwrighting workshop with UNC students at Green’s house. The UNC Board of Trustees ultimately removed Saunders’s name from the building, but neglected to honor Hurston, choosing the new name of Carolina Hall.

Suggested Resources:

Wilson Caldwell

Wilson Swain Caldwell was a 19th-century educator, public official, and university employee. He was enslaved by UNC President David Lowry Swain and was the son of November Caldwell, who was enslaved by the first university president, Joseph Caldwell. After the Civil War, Caldwell helped to found schools for Black students and became the first African American elected official in Orange County when he was elected Justice of the Peace. After the end of Reconstruction and the establishment of Jim Crow laws restricting opportunities for Black North Carolinians, Caldwell returned to UNC to work as the head janitor on campus. He is memorialized, along with his father and two other enslaved workers on campus, by an obelisk in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

Suggested Resources:

  • “Finding Wilson Caldwell: The Study of Slavery at UNC.” Carolina Alumni Review, January 2020. [Online access available to General Alumni Association members.]
  • “Honoring an Unsung Legacy.” University Communications, 27 February 2017. https://www.unc.edu/discover/honoring-unsung-legacy/
  • Kemp P. Battle, Sketch of the Life and Character of Wilson Caldwell, 1895. https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/items/show/3640. [Note: This account by University President Battle uses condescending language and may not be reliable in its account of Caldwell’s words and thoughts, but it is useful for learning some of the details of Caldwell’s life.]

Elizabeth Brooks and Mary Smith

Elizabeth Brooks and Mary Smith were UNC employees and activists. While working at Lenoir dining hall in the late 1960s, Brooks and Smith advocated for improved pay and working conditions for food service workers at UNC. When these demands were not met, they led a strike that drew the attention of campus and state leaders and ultimately resulted in a change in supervision, improved pay, and the establishment of a statewide minimum wage. After UNC outsourced food service to a private company and working conditions failed to improve, Brooks and Smith were active in a second strike. Their efforts, in collaboration with members of the Black Student Movement and other campus allies, have served as an inspiration for future generations of activists and campus workers as they continue to work toward improved pay and treatment for the University’s front-line employees. 

Suggested Resources:

James Walker, Jr.

James Walker, Jr. was one of the first African American students to attend UNC. A North Carolina native, Army veteran, and alumnus of North Carolina Central University, Walker’s application to attend law school at UNC was initially rejected because of the University’s policy to refuse admission to African Americans. Walker joined the lawsuit that eventually led to the integration of graduate programs at UNC in 1951 and enrolled that summer. While at UNC, Walker fought to integrate social spaces on campus, pushing for the removal of segregated seating in Kenan Stadium and appealing to the Chancellor when university administration refused to allow an integrated dance on campus. After graduation, Walker had a long and successful legal career combined with a continued commitment to Civil Rights activism. In 2019, the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies announced a plan to commission a portrait of Walker, who was the first Black member of  the Societies, UNC’s oldest student organization. 

Suggested Resources:

slayton evans, jr.

Slayton Evans, Jr. was the first African American faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. A native of Mississippi and alumnus of Tougaloo College, Evans was hired at UNC in 1974 and remained on the faculty until he passed away in 2001. He was named Kenan professor of Chemistry in 1992. Evans developed a reputation as an outstanding teacher and mentor and earned multiple university and professional awards throughout his career.

Suggested Resources:

 

Digital Records Management 101: Remote Edition

We had planned to host a Digital Records Management 101 training session this month, but we had to cancel the training due to COVID-19. However, we still wanted to provide the university community with some tips for managing digital records. If you are working from home, this might be a good time to work independently to organize your work records or remotely collaborate with colleagues in your department to tackle organization of a shared drive.

This post provides suggestions for reviewing and organizing digital records based on the requirements found in the UNC at Chapel Hill General Records Retention Schedule (Retention Schedule). University Archives staff are working from home and we are available to answer records management questions. You can reach us at archives@unc.edu.

What is Records Management and what is the Records Retention Schedule?

Essentially, records management provides a systematic way to manage records. The Retention Schedule outlines the rules for how different types of records should be managed at our institution. For example, the Schedule (available as a PDF here), provides retention rules for a variety of Personnel Records. So, if you are wondering how long to keep SHRA personnel records, you can find that information on page 128 of the Schedule.
Many of the most common questions about records management are answered on this guide.

How can I used the Retention Schedule to determine what digital records can be deleted and what we need to keep?

The following prompts can help you determine how to manage a record.

  1. What type of record is it?
    • Based on the information communicated in the record, what type of record is it? Personnel? A policy? Curriculum? Student information? Financial?
  2. Who created the record? Who is responsible for it?
    • An important concept in records management is the Office of Record and Reference Copy. You may have copies of digital records that weren’t created by your department and so aren’t your responsibility. This can get tricky when it comes to cross-departmental collaboration. If you are uncertain, feel free to send us an email.
  3. What is the retention and disposition?
    • Check the Retention Schedule for the retention and disposition rules based on your assessments in question one and two above.
  4. Does it go to the Archives?
    • Some records are scheduled to be transferred to the University Archives. If you have records that need to be archived, please contact us.

I would like a way to better organize and manage digital records. What advice is there for individuals or departments on managing shared storage like shared drives or SharePoint sites?

  • One of the best things you can do to keep records organized is to discard files as soon as the retention period allows.
  • Creating a plan for how to organize active records and instructions for when to review records for retention can go a long way!
    • The plan should accounts for the variety of record types and storage locations that you use. Once you’ve outlined a plan — implement and use your plan consistently.
  • If you are developing a plan for a team or department, ensure that members of the team are involved in planning and communicate the plan clearly to everyone who will manage records.

What are some records organization plan components that I should consider?

  • One of the most important parts of a records management plan is to determine who (be specific!) will review records and how often that review should occur. This role might fall to one person or to a small team. In our experience, offices who designated a records management point person or small team have the most success at keeping things organized. We suggest that records are reviewed for retention yearly, but you can review more frequently.
  • List all the digital storage options available and create guidance on how to use that storage and what records should be stored there.
  • Create short, descriptive notes in digital folders.
    • Use a text file (.txt) in a program like Notepad (PC) or Text Edit (Mac) to describe a folder of digital files. Remind your future self or future staff what the contents of the folder are. Title the file README.txt
  • Use file and folder names wisely & go for consistency
    • Create a standard date formatting in file and folder names to make finding things easier: YYYY-MM-DD_AnnualReport.pdf
    • Think of other people – what would help them understand what this file is or what this folder contains?
  • Use folders strategically, but don’t go overboard with too many nested folders. That can end up making it harder to navigate to files later.
  • Centralize storage (digital or analog) for final copies of records. Avoid relying on individual staff computers/OneDrives for storing important departmental records.
  • Create a process to ensure any staff who leave employment in your department add important documents to shared storage, so that records are not left behind in personal OneDrive accounts or other cloud storage accounts (e.g. Google Drive).
  • Ensure digital files are secure and backed-up as needed. Discuss this with ITS as needed.

Do I really need to look at every file? There is so much content and much of it was added to our shared drive by other people or before I worked in the department.

Records management assessment relies on understanding the information contained in a file, so in many cases it is necessary to look at files individually. But there are some higher level strategies that might help to make the task easier.

  • Try to use folder title and filename cues. If you trust a folder name like “Annual Reports 2012-2016” then you probably don’t need to open every single file in that folder to determine the contents.
  • Instead of trying to organize everything in one project, you might start by tackling one year’s worth of records at a time. Maybe start with the newest or oldest year. Similarly, you could focus on one specific record type at a time. For example, maybe the first project is to find and organize all annual reports and strategic planning documents.

How can I manage my email more effectively?

As of April 2019, we implemented a new policy on email retention (see Appendix A of the Retention Schedule document). Under this policy, email records created and received by employees in selected administrative positions will automatically be retained as permanent records in the University Archives. All other email accounts will be retained for a period of five years after the employee leaves the University and then discarded. All employees still have a responsibility to evaluate emails, like other record formats, based on the Retention Schedule.

To manage email more effectively, we suggest:

  • Delete “transitory” or reference copy emails as soon as possible. This refers to things like messages about meeting room changes, calendar invitations, messages about breakroom food or staff parties, or messages sent to the entire campus.
  • Use folders to organize emails that are related to your department and your substantial work projects.
  • We suggest that records are reviewed for retention yearly, but you can review more frequently.

How do I access work records from home?

If you are working with records in OneDrive, Outlook, Sharepoint, or a work computer you brought home with you, you can log in to those sites or devices as you normally would when on campus. If you want to work with files that are on a shared drive or access a work computer that is still on campus, you can likely do this from your home with a few extra steps. Follow the guidance below to set up access at home:

  • If you were able to bring home a work computer:
    • Install and log in to the VPN following this guidance from ITS.
    • Once logged in with the VPN, you can access shared drives as you normally would.
      You do not need to be logged in with the VPN to access Outlook, SharePoint, or OneDrive.
  • If you were unable to bring a work computer home:
    • You may be able to access your work computer desktop (and all your files) from home using VPN and the Remote Desktop application.
    • See this guide for more information on connecting to Remote Desktop.
      • Note: Step 1 of this guide won’t be possible remotely. If you don’t know your office computer IP address, contact the ITS Help Desk or your departmental IT to get IP address information for your work computer.
  • If you run into any issues with VPN or remote desktop, contact ITS Help Desk or your departmental IT staff for further assistance.

How should I collaborate remotely on reviewing digital records from my department?

This will depend on your team and the type of records you have, but you could consider:

  • A series of virtual meetings to discuss the current state of your department’s digital storage options and goals for reviewing and organizing that storage.
  • A discussion of records management and the Records Management guide as it applies to records in your office.
  • Create a plan for assessing older digital records. Discuss the plan over virtual meetings and divvy up tasks based on who can access files from home.
  • Create a plan for organizing new digital records going forward and determine the best way to get buy-in from your department.

New Website Collection and Digital Access Guide

We have written before about collecting tweets related to the recent protests of the Confederate monument on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. We would like to announce the availability of the UNC-Chapel Hill Confederate Monument Protest web archive collection as an additional resource on the recent protests.

Screenshot of a wordcloud. some of the most prominent words are students, confederate, statue, unc, monument, silent, campus, protest
Sample wordcloud generated from collected tweets that included #silentsam or #silencesam (from Fall semester 2017).

The web archive collection contains a variety of content related to the protests. It contains many statements about the monument in the form of editorials, webpages, tweets, and Google documents. The collection also includes news articles from The News & Observer, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and more. The collection also includes other online materials such as activist websites, editorial cartoons, and Facebook event pages. You can learn more about the web archive in the finding aid on our website.

Additionally, the UNC-Chapel Hill Confederate Monument Protest tweet collection has expanded to include tweets from 2018 and 2019. Visit the finding aid for additional details.

Access to the tweets and web archives can involve a slight learning curve due to technical methods used for collecting the material. So, with this in mind, we are also happy to announce the release of a guide to accessing digital materials. The guide includes information on where to find archived websites, tools for using Twitter data sets, and tips on accessing the myriad file formats in our collections.

If you have any questions about these collections or are interested in donating material related to protests of the monument, please feel free to contact us by email: archives@unc.edu.

New Collection Alert: Student Musical Groups

A collection of materials from UNC student musical groups is now available for use in Wilson Library. The collection includes materials from several UNC Student Musical Groups including the Clef Hangers, Loreleis, Tar Heel Voices, and Pauper Players. Collection materials range from the mid 1980s through the mid 2000s, with a lot from the 1990s. The collection includes flyers, posters, and recordings from the groups’ performances.

Student Musical Groups at UNC-Chapel Hill, 1985-2005: https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/40328/

The Myth of the Wilson Library Dunce Cap

VIew of Polk Place on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.
This mid 20th century photo shows the dunce cap effect of the Bell Tower on Wilson Library when viewed from South Building. UNC Image Collection, NC Collection Photo Archives.

Have you heard the story that the Bell Tower was intentionally placed right behind Wilson Library so that, when viewed from South Building, the top of the tower looks like a dunce cap on the round dome of the library?

The dunce cap story has been one of the enduring campus legends for decades. The story originally told was that John Motley Morehead, angered that Louis Round Wilson wouldn’t let him put the tower on top of the new library building, put it right behind to make fun of Wilson. I’ve heard a slightly different version on campus recently, which attributes it to an ongoing battle between two of the university’s “founding families,” the Moreheads and the Wilsons, making them seem like UNC’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys.

As with many campus legends, this one is not true, though some of the stories hint at what really happened.

The Bell Tower was the idea of John Motley Morehead, the Carolina alumnus and industrialist who donated the Morehead Planetarium and established the Morehead scholarships. According to Louis Round Wilson, Morehead’s first proposal was made during the renovation of South Building in the 1920s. Morehead, who had been interested in bringing a tower with chimes to the campus, suggested funding the construction of a tower on top of South Building under the condition that it be renamed the Morehead Building. The Trustees refused, and Morehead looked for other sites.

Morehead turned his attention to the new library building planned for the opposite end of Polk Place, and suggested a bell tower on top of it. This was indeed rejected by librarian Louis Round Wilson. Wilson spoke from his knowledge of bell towers on top of buildings at Cornell University and the University of Illinois. He wrote that, while pleasing to the campus in general, “the ringing of bells and chimes immediately above the reading rooms of the libraries in working hours played havoc with mental concentration and quiet study.”

Morehead had yet another idea: when the university announced a plan to move the large flagpole on campus from McCorkle Place to its current location in the center of Polk Place, Morehead suggested this as the perfect site for the bell tower. The flagpole could be placed on top.

Finally, by 1930, a location was settled. Though initially appearing to be at the very southern end of the campus, long-range plans to expand the university to the south would put the bell tower at the center of the campus, which is where it stands today. The Morehead-Patterson Memorial Bell Tower was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1931.

"Wilson Wears Dunce Cap" article, Daily Tar Heel, August 25, 1975
Daily Tar Heel, 25 August 1975.

It’s not clear when the dunce cap story began. The earliest published reference to it that I could find was in a 1975 Daily Tar Heel article. The author of the story, Dan Fesperman, had the advantage at the time of being able to go straight to one of the sources: 99-year-old Louis Round Wilson was still living in Chapel Hill. Wilson reviewed the debate over the placement of the tower and then addressed the legend directly. “When Wilson was asked if there was even a speck of truth in the Bell Tower legend, he said, ‘It wasn’t designed for that purpose at all.’ He then added, ‘But it does look that way – like a fool’s cap.”

Sources: “The Saga of the Morehead Patterson Bell Tower.” In Louis Round Wilson’s Historical Sketches. Durham: Moore Publishing Co., 1976. https://catalog.lib.unc.edu/catalog/UNCb1408393

Daily Tar Heel, 25 August 1975. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1975-08-25/ed-1/seq-44/