This fall, the doors of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library are getting a new look with the installation of glass panels – but it actually marks a return to the their original design.
From the library’s construction in 1929 through the 1970s, its front doors were wood and glass, allowing passersby a look inside and filling the lobby with natural light. You can see the original doors in the photos below, identified by photographic archivists Stephen Fletcher and Patrick Cullom.
Though we haven’t been able to confirm when the doors were replaced with solid wood, the photographic evidence places it in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Wilson Library underwent major renovations between 1984-1987 after Davis Library opened as the new central library, and it’s likely that the doors were replaced in that period.
During World War II, Wilson Library (then the University Library) was home to the War Information Center, a hub of information and resources related to the war effort.
Briefly called the “Information Center on Civilian Morale,” the Center opened on December 8, 1941: the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Plans for the Center had been in the works for at least a month, but its organizers recognized the immediate need for information as the United States entered the war. The Center was supervised by librarian Katherine Kirtley Weed until the spring of 1942, when librarian Agatha Boyd Adams took on the role.
The War Information Center provided access to books, pamphlets, maps, charts, posters, and news on a wide variety of topics related to the war. Its original collection was drawn from the library’s existing collection, consisting largely of reference materials on countries involved in the war. The collection grew quickly as librarians purchased additional materials and added publications distributed by the United Nations and US government agencies. To make sure up-to-date information was available to students, librarians didn’t catalog the materials, instead making them immediately available on the Center’s open shelves. At its height, the collection consisted of roughly 20,000 pamphlets and 2,000 books (regularly weeded for outdated materials). Center volunteers – 16 women in the first half of 1942 – clipped relevant articles from newspapers, maintained a newspaper clipping file, and staffed the desk.
The Center’s impact was not confined to campus. Its services were open to all North Carolina citizens. The Center distributed reading lists across the state, and discussion groups could borrow “discussion packets” including books and pamphlets by mail. It also provided reference services to state agencies.
The Center closed shortly after the war ended and its books were cataloged and absorbed into the library’s general collections.
We are pleased to announce that the University Archives will be leading walking tours on the history of student activism at UNC Chapel Hill. These are offered in conjunction with the exhibit, Service, Not Servitude: The 1969 Food Workers’ Strikes at UNC Chapel Hill.
These tours will cover student activism at Carolina over several decades, highlighting examples of the different ways UNC students have joined together to make their voices heard and to advocate for change on campus, across the nation, and around the world. These tours will not cover every single instance of student activism – far from it – but will touch on a selection of the most prominent or most influential efforts by student activists and their allies.
Because the stories of activism at UNC are far larger and more complex than can be covered in a single afternoon, we encourage everyone, whether they join us on the tour or not, to explore the resources listed below and learn more about student activism at Carolina. Locations in parentheses refer to where the topic is discussed on the tour.
When folk singer Pete Seeger came to campus on this day in 1962, his visit was preceded by weeks of controversy.
In November, the Daily Tar Heel first reported that Seeger was scheduled to perform a concert in Memorial Hall sponsored by UNC’s New Left Club. It would be one of many concerts Seeger performed across the South to raise funds for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – his only in North Carolina.
Founded in 1960, SNCC was a vital civil rights organization that used community organizing and direct action to combat voter suppression, segregation, and racial violence. (Learn more about SNCC at the SNCC Digital Gateway.) The organization was involved in many of the most iconic events of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s – including the Freedom Rides, Mississippi Freedom Summer, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery Marches.
The New Left Club, which sponsored the show, was an active but short-lived student organization of the early 1960s dedicated to the study and discussion of leftist politics and labor issues, often inviting speakers to lead discussion on topics of interest.
Seeger himself was the target of some of the controversy – he had been subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about his political beliefs and affiliations with communist organizations. (The conviction was overturned on appeal.) Amid the era’s panic over communism on university campuses, some considered him a dangerous leftist influence. However, it was not Seeger’s first time in Memorial Hall – he had performed a Carolina Union-sponsored show there just three years prior, without any controversy. It seems the New Left Club’s sponsorship of the concert, the proceeds going to SNCC, and the escalation of fears over communism at universities converged to draw the ire of opponents on campus and beyond. Alum Spencer Everett (class of 1960) wrote in a letter to the Daily Tar Heel:
I hope that students, who might be tempted to view the appearance of Pete Seeger as a harmless affair, worth the price of admission, will consider the left-wing, un-American causes to which the admission proceeds will be applied. With this in mind, I am sure that on December 5 the entertainment will be better and the air a good bit fresher anywhere but in the company of Mr. Seeger and the New Left. (Daily Tar Heel, 11/18/1962)
The day of the show, the Daily Tar Heel published an editorial in support of the performance. The author wrote:
Of what party or cell or country club or lodge or whatever, Pete Seeger is a member will have little relevance to his performance tonight. As students, more than any other section of the citizenry, we should not be confused by false arguments and spurious logic. What you will hear is the folk songs of the nation’s leading folk writer and composer – there will be no cell meeting, no band of conspirators taking oaths in sheep’s blood.
The overwhelmingly logical path is not to be frightened away from the Seeger concert by the muddled words of those who are afraid of men who sing songs praising peace and scorning war….not be frightened by the words of those who shudder at the thought of a “hammer of justice.” The logical path leads to Memorial Hall to see and hear the controversial Mr. Seeger, and decide for yourself. (Daily Tar Heel, 12/05/1962).
That night, Seeger performed before a crowd of over 1,000, while 10 picketers marched outside Memorial Hall bearing signs with messages like “Give your money to Easter Seals, and not to SNCC,” “Watch from outside the windows,” “Do not go to this red-inspired concert,” and “Don’t support the silent sponsor.” Some of the protesters were from the conservative group Young Americans for Freedom, while others marched independently. A crowd of 30-40 students watched the protest. (Daily Tar Heel, 12/06/1962)
One protester reflected in the Daily Tar Heel (12/16/1962) that their purpose was to “make sure that people were well-informed about his sponsor (the New Left), his record (many Communist-front affiliations) and the probable destination of their money (a freedom rider’s pocket).” He reported that “the people did not turn away in droves but enough did to give us some satisfaction.”
Jesse Helms, then an executive and commentator for Capitol Broadcasting Company (later North Carolina senator) lashed out in his nightly Viewpoint segment on WRAL-TV later that week:
The University campus has welcomed this Fall just about every conceivable type of extreme leftwinger. One night last week there was a folk-singer whose loyalty to his country has been at serious question…The folk-singer, a fellow named Pete Seeger, is not reported as having dispensed any of his political philosophy, and therefore we presume that he was invited merely for the purpose of adding to the University’s cultural life. It was mere coincidence, the academic freedom set will assure you, that Seeger’s appearance on the University campus was sponsored by the so-called “New Left Club.” Still, let’s tell it all: Seeger has been clearly identified as a known Communist; he refused to answer questions regarding his affiliation with the Communist Party; he has marched in Communist May Day parades; he was described in the 1961 report of the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee as ‘….without question, the best-known of the Communist Party’s entertainers.
The controversy on and off campus did little to dampen the spirit of Seeger or the audience. The Daily Tar Heel reported the day after the concert that “Seeger performed a program of old and contemporary folk songs that include several songs that have arisen from the desegregation movement. The greatest audience participation of the evening came on one of these, “We Shall Overcome,” theme song of CORE [Congress of Racial Equality].” (12/06/1962)
For the last two years, the University Archives has collaborated with Linda’s Bar and Grill on Franklin Street to host a round of UNC history-themed trivia during the first week of classes. How would you do? Test your knowledge with the questions below, then check out the answers here.
1. Eight of the buildings currently in use on the UNC campus were originally built before the Civil War. Can you name at least five?
2. Only two U.S. Presidents have studied at Carolina. James K. Polk, who graduated in 1818, is the only UNC graduate to go on to become President. Who is the other future President who took classes at UNC? Hint: he spent one summer taking classes at the UNC School of Law in 1938.
3. In the 1920s, students often complained about the noise coming from the basement of Caldwell Building. What was the source of the noise?
Practices by the UNC Mandolin and Guitar Club
Mysterious yells and chants from Order of the Gimghoul ceremonies
Barking and howling from lab animals used in Medical School courses
Loud hammering and clanking from the UNC blacksmith shop
4. In the early 1990s when basketball coach Dean Smith decided that the Tar Heels needed a new look, what local fashion designer did he turn to for help redesigning the team’s uniforms?
5. Which well-known author is not a UNC alumnus?
Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities
Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series
Sarah Dessen, author of Saint Anything and other popular young adult novels.
Walker Percy, author of The Moviegoer and Lost in the Cosmos
6. The design of the Old Well was modeled after a similar structure in what country?
7. In 1965, UNC students were frustrated with the poor performance of the basketball team and blamed the young coach, Dean Smith. How did they express their dissatisfaction?
They started a petition calling for Smith’s firing.
They toilet-papered Smith’s house.
They wrote letters to former coach Frank McGuire, urging him to come back to UNC.
They hanged Smith in effigy.
8. Captain Johnston Blakeley is believed to be the first UNC alumnus to be killed in military service. In what war was he killed?
9. In 2006, UNC was the first predominantly-white university to name a building in honor of someone formerly enslaved on campus. Name the building and the man for whom it was named.
10. Every October 12th, the University celebrates “University Day” in honor of an important event that happened on that day in 1793. What was it?
11. Who was the first student to attend UNC?
12. Which of UNC’s varsity athletic programs has the most NCAA championship wins?
13. UNC has 5 buildings named after members of the same family. What is the family?
14. What UNC sports team was, for a time, known as the “White Phantoms?”
15. In the 1970s, the “High Noon Society” regularly met on Fridays at the Bell Tower. For what purpose?
16. How many students were in UNC’s first graduating class? Hint: Not many.
17. In 1951, the first four African American students were admitted to UNC. They were graduate students in what program?
18. In 1935, UNC president Frank Porter Graham proposed a plan to reform intercollegiate athletics, which was met with immediate backlash. Which of the following was not part of the Graham Plan?
Eliminated athletic scholarships
Made first-year students ineligible to participate in varsity athletics
Prohibited students from missing class for games
19. In 1852, UNC completed a building that would serve a dual purpose as a library and ballroom. It was later used as a performance venue. What is the name of that building now?
20. According to a Daily Tar Heel report, “Carmichael auditorium oozed steamy sexuality” during this late musical artist’s 1983 performance.
In an article published Friday, the Raleigh News and Observer‘s Rob Christensen made reference to former UNC president Frank Porter Graham’s plan for intercollegiate athletics, known as the “Graham Plan.” The plan, developed by Graham and colleagues at a 1935 meeting of the National Association of State Colleges, was intended to suppress corruption and de-emphasize the role of athletics in university life. It limited athletic recruiting and abolished athletic scholarships, forbade post-season play, required athletes and athletic departments to provide accounts of their income and expenses, and placed athletics under the control of the faculty. Despite having support from administrators at many other colleges and universities, the plan faced significant opposition and was not successfully implemented.
You can read the plan’s proposed regulations here:
Recently we were pleased to receive a series of newsletters from the UNC School of Pharmacy. These newsletters provide a window into the activities of the School and its students from 1962-1965 and frequently feature creative cartoon covers. Check out a preview below, and stop by Wilson Library to browse the collection!
The LGBTQ Center, established in 2003, works to make the UNC campus a welcoming environment for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
The new addition includes materials documenting events and programs sponsored by the Center in the 2000s, as well as materials from organizations predating the LGBTQ Center, including the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association (CGLA) and its successors, Bisexuals, Gay Men, Lesbians and Allies for Diversity (B-GLAD) and Queer Network for Change (QNC). The addition also includes a wealth of newspaper and magazine clippings and ephemera documenting events related to LGBTQ issues on campus, in the local area, and beyond in from the late 1980s through the 2000s.
A few years ago, we posted about a series of cartoons found in the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005). The large, undated drawings showed Chemistry and Physics as colliding trains, fighting roosters, and scuffling men. We weren’t sure when the cartoons were made, or what exactly they meant. But while searching the Daily Tar Heel on Newspapers.com today, I stumbled across a story that offers an explanation – a story of inter-departmental conflict and a creative student prank.
The June 6, 1904 issue of the Daily Tar Heel reports that the Alumni Association invited Judge Francis D. Winston, class of 1879, to speak and share his memories of his time at UNC. In his speech, he recalled:
The reopened University* found itself practically without scientific apparatus. Its scarcity caused a conflict between two members of the faculty. The institution owned a dilapidated air pump, which was claimed by two departments – Chemistry and Physics. The professor of Physics, a man of few words and quick to act, took it to his room in the end of the Old West. In his absence the professor of chemistry had it taken to Person Hall by the college servant. Professor [Ralph Henry] Graves arrived on the scene just as it reached the door. He seized it and had it returned. Professor [Alexander Fletcher Redd] Reed [sic] interfered and they came ‘mighty nigh fighting’with chemistry worsted. And this was in the days of a struggling college, over an instrument which Dr. Elisha Mitchell had condemned as useless in 1856 and which had not exhausted air in a quarter of a century.
The morning after this occurrence there was seen over the rostrum in the chapel, a large drawing in flaming colors, of two engines approaching each other on the same track. They were labeled Chemistry and Physics. Another scene told the story. Chemistry was derailed and demolished. Every student was at prayers that morning. The interest was manifest.
Dr. [Charles] Phillips was conducting chapel prayers that week. When he entered the door he took in the situation at a glance. When near the bull pen he broke into a quick run. He was applauded. He rushed up the steps to the hanging cartoons, but he failed to reach them, and he tried again and again. He was not without sympathy in the student body. How well do I recall their efforts of help and encouragement, when with his hand within an inch of the paper some one would cry: “Just a little more, oop-a-doop, a little higher.” But it was beyond his reach and he sat down. Wilson Caldwell, the college servant was sent for and the papers removed and prayers were said.
The next morning the artist put the incident into another form by having a game cock labeled Physics after a crestfallen, retreating rooster named Chemistry. The crowd was expectant. The good doctor saw the cartoons as he entered the door. He went to the desk with measured step. He appeared not to notice it. In the lesson that he read occurred this verse: ‘Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even or at midnight,’ and here he paused, ‘or at the cock crowing in the morning, lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping.’
Though Winston’s memories of the cartoons and the event they commemorated – shared thirty years after the fact – may not be entirely reliable, these cartoons now make a lot more sense. We now know that they were created between 1875 and 1879 and refer to a real conflict between two departments on campus. The drawing of the two men fighting over a piece of equipment labelled “air pump” can be taken much more literally than previously thought, as we now know it depicts an actual dispute over an air pump.
Although Winston remembered the train and rooster drawings appearing separately and they are here presented on one sheet of paper, the holes and tears at the corners of these cartoons suggest that these may some of the original drawings he remembered being hung in Gerrard Hall during chapel exercises.
At the University Day celebration on October 11, 2016, Chancellor Carol Folt announced a new program to name scholarships after notable “firsts” in UNC history. In recognition of the individuals recognized as pioneers at UNC, the University Archives is publishing blog posts with more information about each of the twenty-one “firsts.” This post is part of that series.
In 1953, journalist W. Horace Carter was one of the first UNC alumni to win a Pulitzer Prize. Carter, the founder and editor of the Tabor City Tribune, was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for his brave reporting on the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in Tabor City – reporting that led to an FBI investigation and the convictions of almost one hundred KKK members.
When Carter entered UNC in 1939, he was not only the first in his family to attend college, but the first to graduate from high school. In an interview conducted by the Southern Oral History Program, Carter said that the summer before coming to Chapel Hill, he saved up $112 while working in a cotton mill. His first day on campus, he went to Director of Admissions Roy Armstrong’s office and asked whether he thought he could get through school with the money he’d saved. Armstrong encouraged him, saying “I know a lot of people who got through on less.”
Carter immediately got a job at the UNC News Bureau, working about eight hours a day, and also joined the freshmen baseball team. He soon became a sports editor for the Tar Heel (today the Daily Tar Heel).
In 1942, as the United States entered World War II, Carter left UNC to work in a shipyard. After several months, he joined the Navy and was assigned to a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. After serving there for a year, he returned to UNC – this time as part of the V-12 Navy College Training program. He returned to work at the News Bureau and at the Tar Heel, where he served as sports editor, then as a co-managing editor, and, starting in May 1944, as editor. He was involved in a number of campus organizations and activities, and was tapped as a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Grail.
After graduating from UNC, Carter moved to Tabor City, North Carolina, to start a newspaper, the Tabor City Tribune. Four years later, after the KKK paraded through the town, Carter wrote his first anti-Klan editorial, headlined “No Excuse for KKK.” Without the support of his community and at great risk to himself, he would go on to write more than 100 articles exposing and condemning Klan activities in the area. The articles drew the attention of the FBI, and nearly 100 members of the Klan were arrested and convicted as a result of the investigation.
In 1953, Carter and Willard Cole, the editor of the Whiteville News Reporter, were both honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in recognition of their work. Carter continued at the Tribune for two decades before retiring to Florida, where he was a prolific writer on nature, fishing, and other topics. He returned to the Tribune in the 1990s, working there until shortly before his death in September 2009.
“No Excuse for KKK,” Horace Carter, Tabor City Tribune, 27 July, 1950
Oral History with W. Horace Carter, January 17, 1976. Interview B-0035. Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. https://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/B-0035/menu.html