Timeline of UNC-Chapel Hill Latinx History

This timeline presents key events in the history of Latinx students, faculty and staff, and programs at UNC-Chapel Hill. The timeline was developed using resources available in Wilson Special Collections Library. It is not intended to be comprehensive, but it is our hope that this will be a helpful resource for anyone interested in learning more about Latinx history at Carolina. We welcome any corrections or suggested additions at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.


Seven students dressed in suite and ties for a yearbook image
Yearbook photo of the Cuban club

UNC sees an influx of students from Cuba. Members of the “Cuban Club” are pictured in the 1909 and 1910 Yackety Yacks. At one point the Cuban Club had 11 members, a significant population at a time when UNC had a total enrollment of 778 with only 55 out-of-state students.

Source: For the Record blog, 28 March, 2016. The Curious Case of the Cuban Club – For the Record (unc.edu)


UNC establishes the Inter-American Institute, the university’s first formal structure for curricular and program development in Latin American studies. Following its establishment, UNC begins offering courses in Latin American history and geography.

Source: Elizabeth Hasseler, “A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina.” Carolina Passport, 2020. A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina – UNC Global

January – March 1941

The Inter-American Institute organizes a six-week “winter summer school” for 110 visiting educators, journalists, and professionals from South America. Countries represented included Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The visitors participated in classes, lectures, and tours. In recognition of their visit, they created an endowment in the University Libraries for the purchase of books and materials about South America.

Sources: Elizabeth Hasseler, “A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina.” Carolina Passport, 2020. A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina – UNC Global; Daily Tar Heel, 25 January 1941, 2 March 1941


The Inter-American Institute is reorganized and renamed the Institute of Latin American Studies.

Source: Elizabeth Hasseler, “A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina.” Carolina Passport, 2020. A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina – UNC Global

February – March, 1960

Fifteen students from Cuba visit UNC to take part in a four-week seminar focusing on sociology and anthropology. The visit is organized by the UNC Institute of Latin American Studies, the University of Havana, and the U.S. State Department.

Sources: Elizabeth Hasseler, “A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina.” Carolina Passport, 2020. A Century of Latin American Studies at Carolina – UNC Global; Daily Tar Heel, 3 February 1960.

Several male and female students dressed in jackets in the snow.
Students standing in front of the Institute of Government, 1960. 40089
Collection Title: Institute of Latin American Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1937-1983 #40089 Collection Title: Institute of Latin American Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1937-1983


The Annual Report of the Director of the Office of Records and Registration includes data for minority students enrolled at UNC, including students described as “Spanish American Surnamed.” For fall 1969, UNC reports 17 undergraduate and 21 graduate Latinx students. This data is drawn from information provided voluntarily by students on their fall semester matriculation cards.

Source: Office of the Registrar and Director of Institutional Research of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records (40130), University Archives.


The Institute of Latin American Studies selects twelve Mexican scholars for advanced study and research at UNC, funded by Pepsi-Cola of Mexico. The following year, the Institute selected an additional six Venezuelan scholars. The program concluded in 1983.

Source: Mexican Visiting Scholars Program, Institute of Latin American Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40089, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Group of men and women
Photograph of the Mexican Visiting Scholars Program participants. 1981-1982. in the #40089 Institute of Latin American Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


There are 22 Latinx faculty members at UNC as of December 1986, according to the Office of Institutional Research. At the time, there are 1,975 faculty members at Carolina.

Source: Fact Book, 1986-87. UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Fact Books | OIRA (unc.edu)

Fall 1990

The Carolina Hispanic Association (known as CHispA) is established by student Catherine Lindsay with a group of around ten students. As of Fall 1990, there are 201 Latinx students enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Source: Daily Tar Heel, 2 April 2001. The Daily Tar Heel. (Chapel Hill, N.C.) 1929-1943, April 02, 2001, Image 1 · North Carolina Newspapers (digitalnc.org); Fact Books from the UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Fact Books | OIRA (unc.edu)

Fall 1999

Maria DeGuzman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. María DeGuzmán, Eugene H. Falk Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature, establishes the UNC Latina/o Cultures Speakers Series. The speaker series has brought prominent Latinx scholars, authors, and artists to campus for lectures and discussions.

Sources: “About the UNC Latina/o Cultures Speakers Series,” About The UNC Latina/o Cultures Speakers Series | UNC Latina/o Studies Program;List of the scholars, writers, performers, and educators that the UNC Latina/o Cultures Speakers’ Series has brought to campus and/or supported with funding.”

30 October 1999

Undergraduate students Sussy Portillo and Dawn Anderson crossed into the Kappa Chapter of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Incorporated. This marked the extension of Duke University’s LPC/LPCSI Kappa Chapter to UNC’s campus as one of the first Latina-focused sororities to be represented at the University.

Source: Phi Chapter – Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.

Spring 2000

Dr. María DeGuzmán taught English 864: Studies in Latinx Literatures, Cultures, Criticism (including “LatinX Environmentalisms”), the first graduate-level course on Latinx-U.S literature(s), culture(s), and criticism at UNC.

Source: Interview with Dr. María DeGuzmán, 2017, in the Latina/o Studies Program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40489, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

19 April 2001

The Alpha Iota Chapter of the La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Incorporated (LUL) was established on UNC’s campus. This is the one of the first Latino-centered fraternities to be represented at UNC.

Source: About Us: AI – UNC LUL

Fall 2002

Enrollment of Latinx students tops 500 for the first time. 511 students, identified as Hispanic in university data, make up 2.0% of the total student population.

Source: Fact Books from the UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Fact Books | OIRA (unc.edu)


UNC faculty members Paul Cuadros and Peter Kaufman establish the Scholars’ Latino Initiative (SLI), a scholarship and mentoring program housed in the UNC Center for Global Initiatives.

Source: About Us – Scholars Latino Initiative, About Us | LatinxEd


Building on the success of the Latino/a Cultures Speaker Series, Dr. María DeGuzmán and other faculty propose a new undergraduate minor in Latino/a Studies. The minor is approved in March 2004, leading to the establishment of a Latino/a Studies Program. The new minor and program are inaugurated with a celebration in Dey Hall on September 20, 2004.

Sources: “History of the UNC Latina/o Studies Program,” History of The UNC Latina/o Studies Program | UNC Latina/o Studies Program; Daily Tar Heel, 21 September 2004. The Daily Tar Heel. (Chapel Hill, N.C.) 1929-1943, September 21, 2004, Page 3, Image 3 · North Carolina Newspapers (digitalnc.org)

January 2006

The Daily Tar Heel publishes “La Colina,” a Spanish-language supplement to the newspaper. The single-page supplement runs monthly through 2008 and includes original stories of interest to UNC students and the local Latinx community.

Source: Daily Tar Heel, 25 January 2006. https://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92068245/2006-01-25/ed-1/seq-1/

Fall 2007

Enrollment of Latinx students tops 1,000 for the first time. 1,010 students, identified as Hispanic in university data, make up 3.5% of the total student population.

Also in Fall 2007, the number of Latinx faculty at UNC passes 100 for the first time. Of these, more than half (54) are in fixed-term positions. Latinx faculty make up 3.4% of the total faculty at UNC.

Source: Fact Books from the UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Fact Books | OIRA (unc.edu)

Smiling students laughing.
Students at Hamilton Hall as part of Hispanic Heritage Week. Daily Tar Heel records 2007.

November 2007

“Los Sueños de Angélica,” a film by UNC alumnus Rodrigo Dorfman, is screened at the FedEx Global Education Center. The film, the story of a Latinx couple in Durham struggling to decide whether to stay in the United States, is, according to the Daily Tar Heel, the “first Latino feature film to come out of North Carolina.”

Source: Daily Tar Heel, 14 November 2007. https://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92068245/2007-11-14/ed-1/seq-3/

10 April 2010

The Carolina Latina/o Collaborative (CLC), a university-backed collective focusing on Latina/o campus and community-wide affairs with plans to create a dedicated Center, is launched in Craige-North Residence Hall.

Source: Press Release, in the Latina/o Studies Program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40489, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

24 April 2010

After the National Executive Board (NEB) of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. decided to grant UNC recognition of its own chapter, students Christina Jusino and Wendy Tapia cross into LPC/LPSCI and mark the founding of LPC/LPSCI’s Phi Chapter.

Source: Phi Chapter – Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.

Fall 2010

Latinx enrollment continues to grow. University sources report 2,428 students described as “Hispanic of any race,” representing 8.3% of the total student population.

Source: Fact Books from the UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Fact Books | OIRA (unc.edu)

23 April 2011

The Beta Lambda Chapter of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated is established on UNC’s campus.

Source: Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated – Heel Life

April 2016

The UNC Centers and Institutes Review Committee approves the proposal to create a Latinx Center on campus. The Center receives final approval from the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees in January 2019.

Source: Latinx Center website: Our History – Carolina Latinx Center (unc.edu)


The Office of the Executive Vice Provost formed the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and Undocumented Resource Team, an effort to coordinate resources and information for undocumented students at Carolina.

Source: DACA/Undocumented Students – Dean of Students


UndocuCarolina is established as part of a collaborative effort to support education and programming around contemporary immigration policy and a better understanding of issues faced by undocumented students and families. UndocuCarolina also offers Ally Trainings, half-day workshops focused on immigration, education policy, and best practices for providing support to undocumented students.

Source: UndocuCarolina (unc.edu)

Spring 2018

The Carolina Hispanic Association (CHispA) is renamed Mi Pueblo to reflect the group’s vision of unity and inclusivity.

Source: Mi Pueblo UNC on Instagram: Hola, Mi Pueblo! As many of you know, we recently decided on changing our name from the Carolina Hispanic Association (CHispA) to Mi Pueblo…”

October 2018

Ricky Hurtado and Elaine Townsend Utin establish LatinxEd, a nonprofit educational initative providing support to Latinx students and immigrant families.

Source: LatinxEd website.

4 October 2019

The UNC Carolina Latinx Center opens in Abernathy Hall.

Source: Latinx Center website: Our History – Carolina Latinx Center (unc.edu)

January 2020

UNC faculty member Todd Ramón Ochoa chairs the UNC DACA and Undocumented Resource Team.

Source: Daily Tar Heel, 12 January 2020. Universities are preparing for the future of dreamers amid DACA’s potential rollback – The Daily Tar Heel

Fall 2020

UNC employs 201 faculty members identified as “Hispanic of any race.” These faculty make up 4.9% of the total faculty at Carolina.

Source: Fact Book, 1995-96. UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. fb2007_2008.pdf (unc.edu)

November 2020

UNC alumnus and staff member Ricky Hurtado is elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, becoming the first Latinx Democrat elected to the state legislature.

Source: INDY Week, 4 November 2020. Ricky Hurtado Becomes the First Latino Democrat Candidate Elected to North Carolina State House – INDY Week

Fall 2022

For the Fall 2022 semester, 9.3% percent (2,961) of UNC students are identified as Hispanic.

Source: UNC Office of Institutional Research & Assessment. Student Characteristics, Fall 2022. Analytic Reports | OIRA (unc.edu)

Carolina Concert for Children Brings Grandmaster Flash and U2 to Chapel Hill in 1983


Crowd in rain gear watching concert.
Crowd in rain gear watching concert. Yackety Yack, 1983.

On a rainy day in April 1983, music legends U2 and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five performed in Kenan Stadium as part of The Carolina Concert for Children. Despite the stellar lineup, the university ended up losing money due to poor attendance which was blamed on rainy weather and other factors (alcohol was banned in the stadium).

The Spring Concert was something that the student body petitioned to have in 1983 (Daily Tar Heel, 20 April 1983). The Carolina Concert for Children’s goal was to be different from previous concerts like Chapel Thrill and Jubilee. The student-organized event was a benefit concert for Special Olympics, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and UNICEF (Daily Tar Heel, 21 March 1983).

Two members of the group, The Producers, playing their guitars on stage
The Producers. Yackety Yack, 1983.

The Producers and Todd Rundgren also performed at the concert. Rundgren, who, like U2 and Grandmaster Flash, would later be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was at the height of his popularity and was the headline act. He was also paid significantly more than the other artists. Rundgren was contracted to receive $25,000 and a percentage of all gross ticket sales over $125,000 (Daily Tar Heel, 29 March 1983).

U2 was offered $7,500 but negotiated for $10,000 since the concert “fell on the opening of their tour.” Grandmaster Flash and the Producers each received $5,000. The three charities were due to receive profits from the sale of T-shirts and concessions.

Members of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on stage
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Yackety Yack, 1983.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five opened the concert. The Daily Tar Heel described them as a funk group from New York City “made popular by a type of music called ‘rap’” (Daily Tar Heel, 25 April 1983). The band interacted with the crowd while wearing elaborate costumes including a white leather cowboy outfit and a police uniform. The Producers went next, a new “progressive pop” band from Atlanta best known for their songs, “What’s He Got” and “She Sheila.”

Bono from U2 on stage.
Bono. Yackety Yack, 1983.

U2, touring to promote their album War, was beginning their third tour in the U.S. with the Chapel Hill concert.  Addressing the weather, the Irish band’s lead singer, Bono, told the crowd, “We’d like to thank you for making it rain today so it would be more like home for us.” Their set included “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” as Bono leapt on and off stage (Daily Tar Heel, 27 April 1983).  U2’s experience can’t have been wholly negative – ten years later (and significantly more popular), the band tried to book Kenan Stadium but their request was denied because the date conflicted with a Carolina football game (Daily Tar Heel, 8 September 1992).

According to the Daily Tar Heel, the concert ended up losing “$30,000 to $40,000,” that number was later shown to be closer to $60,000.  However,  on a positive note, there were less issues with alcohol from previous concerts.


Joel Broadway. No back-up band Rundgren slated solo. March 29, 1983. The Daily Tar Heel. 

Tom Conlon, “Ran erodes concert profits.” April 25, 1983. The Daily Tar Heel. 

Jennifer Cresimore. “One Fine Chapel Hill Party.” April 20, 1983. The Daily Tar Heel.

Linda Messner. “Start Planning Now” April 27, 1983 . The Daily Tar Heel.

Lisa Pullen, “’Chapel Thrill’ may get Facelift, chairmen says” November 8, 1982. The Daily Tar Heel. 

Mark Stinneford. “Committee announces plan for reserved seating at the concert.” March 21, 1983. Daily Tar Heel. 

Men’s Varsity Glee Club Summer 1966 Europe trip

In 1966 the UNC men’s varsity Glee Club celebrated their 75th touring season with a month-long tour through Europe, including 21 performances in England, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, West Germany, and East Germany. Director Joel Carter (1913-2000) and student members collected a variety of items during their trip, now available in a new addition to the records of the Department of Music in the University Archives.

Dr. Carter’s planning materials include a packing list for club members. Suggested items include: a wool and summer blazer, a dressing gown and slippers, collapsible coat hangers, a shoeshine kit, and “your favorite tummy-ache remedy.” The list discourages liquids as “they are heavy and treacherous!” 

Two copies of the typed packing list given to Varsity Glee Club members for the summer 1966 Europe trip, circa May 1966. One is annotated by hand, the other is a plain copy. The annotated copy is yellowed.
Two copies of the typed packing list given to Varsity Glee Club members for the summer 1966 Europe trip, circa May 1966.
Typed draft letter to Ed Sullivan written by Glee Club members, circa 1965-1966. Annotated by hand and signed Alvin Tyndall and Paul Wyche, two officiers of the club. Alvin Tyndall's name is crossed out.
Typed draft letter to Ed Sullivan written by Glee Club members, circa 1965-1966. Signed Alvin Tyndall and Paul Wyche.


The first stop of the tour brought the club to New York City, where they performed a worship service at St. George’s Church in Greenwich Village followed by a national television performance on the Ed Sullivan show. Dr. Carter’s records include a draft letter by club members to Ed Sullivan requesting to perform on his show. The show, filmed on June 12, 1966, also featured The Dave Clark Five, tap dancer Peter Gennaro, and writer Elwyn Ambrose who recited poetry with a cat puppet.  

Photograph of airline tickets and ticket folders from 1966 European tour.
Airline tickets and ticket folders from 1966 European tour.
Photograph of train and ferry tickets, booklet, and German beer coaster, 1966
Train and ferry tickets, booklet, and German beer coaster, 1966

 Paul Wyche, club president and class of 1967, saved his KLM and Eastern airlines boarding passes. These paper tickets have hand-written and stamped flight information and seat numbers. Two have passport control tickets attached. There are also ferry, bus, and train tickets. Someone collected travel brochures, including foreign currency guides, ferry boat brochures, and a tourist magazine from Copenhagen.   

The Glee Club’s choice of songs, demonstrated in their partial repertoire list, emphasizes American music and composers. The list features two songs by Stephen Foster (1826-1864), sometimes called “the father of American music.” Further underscoring their ‘Americanness,’ they performed at Rebild National Park Society’s American Independence Day celebration, one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations outside of the United States.  

The European tour event program describes an 1895 Glee Club poster calling their performances “rollicking songs, jigs and banjo picking.” The program goes on to say “[t]he banjos and jigs have been packed away with the knickers and knee socks worn by the Club’s earlier members. But the University of North Carolina Men’s Glee Club is still known for its ‘jolly programs’ and ‘rollicking songs.’” They paid homage to their early banjo pickin’ days with the song “Ring de Banjo” by Stephen Foster.  

The club’s oeuvre included African American spirituals; however, many of the African American spirituals performed, with a notable exception of the arrangement of “Were You There?” by Henry Thacker “Harry” Burleigh (1866-1949), were arranged by white composers. The club also performed exclusionary and injurious music, the most conspicuous example being “Dixie,” the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy, which they sang on the Ed Sullivan Show.  

Photograph of the Glee Club in front of the United States building during the 1965-1966 New York Fair. Also included is a news release describing their national tour and upcoming European tour.
Photograph of the Glee Club in front of the United States building during the 1965-1966 New York Fair. Also included is a news release describing their national tour and upcoming European tour.

 The club members found time to sightsee in between performances. Tourist memorabilia is scattered throughout the collection, including museum and Cinerama tickets. Someone saved a hotel shower cap, receipts, and blank postcards. A hastily scrawled note to a member who slept in tells him where to meet the group later that morning.  

Photograph of Paper tickets to various events and locations, including Westminster Abbey, the Musee Nationaeux in Paris, the Cinerama in London, and the Casino in Lucerne. There is also a small flip book of Westminster Abbey.
Paper tickets to various events and locations, including Westminster Abbey, the Musee Nationaeux in Paris, the Cinerama in London, and the Casino in Lucerne. There is also a small flip book of Westminster Abbey.

In a 1986 Chapel Hill Newspaper article on the Glee Club reunion, Betty North described their experiences in Paris: 

By the time the group arrived in Paris, one of the last major stops, the club members were tired and running short of money, North said. The group stayed in a cheap hotel and toured the city in the least expensive way possible: by foot and by subway. “In the winter, the hotel we were staying in was a house for ladies of the night, and the desk clerk was a madame,” North said. “She just couldn’t understand why all these young men were staying there, next to the Moulin Rouge, and not going after the women.”

The members still had plenty of indecorous fun. Two German beer coasters and a ticket for a casino in Lucerne are in the collection. There is also a Playboy Club napkin of unknown American origin—likely from St. Louis or New York City during the national tour.   

Newspaper clipping, Joan Page, “Glee Club’s Visit in Red Area Brings Somber Note to Travels.” 1966.
Newspaper clipping, Joan Page, “Glee Club’s Visit in Red Area Brings Somber Note to Travels.” 1966.

The club’s travel to Leipzig and East Berlin in East Germany, then under Soviet rule, served as a subdued note. A four-page information pamphlet from the United States Mission in West Berlin details the process of traveling into East Berlin. The group shared a general anti-Soviet sentiment in a 1966 newspaper article, describing the land as “creepy,” “completely colorless,” and “dirty, barren and downright spooky.” The article also describes East Germans as glaring at the diesel bus. Student photographer Jock Lauterer photographed the group in East Germany; the negatives of these photos are in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives in Wilson Library.  

Despite their fundraising efforts, the club ran out of money by the end of the tour. In a letter to the Alumni Annual Giving fund dated September 22, 1966, Dr. Carter asked for a gift to help cover their $3,025.49 deficit. Dr. Carter mentions he enclosed “pictures, news releases, brochures, and other souvenirs of our European Tour.” Perhaps Dr. Carter and members collected memorabilia to give as thank you gifts to their tour sponsors, and this small collection was left.  


Liz Lucas, “Glee Club Recall ’66 Tour,” The Chapel Hill Newspaper, May 11 1986.  

Joan Page, “Glee Club’s Visit in Red Area Brings Somber Note to Travels,” Newspaper clipping, 1966.  



Now Available Online: 1992 Spike Lee Rally Video

On September 18th, 1992, filmmaker Spike Lee spoke at a rally at the Dean E. Smith Center in support of a free-standing Black Cultural Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Lee had learned about student activism in support of a Black Cultural Center at Carolina when the New York Times reported on the participation of several Black football players in the movement. The UNC Libraries Digital Production Center has recently digitized a videotape of the rally. The full video is now available online.

In the 81 minute-long recording, leaders of the Black Cultural Center (BCC) movement and the Black Awareness Council (BAC), an organization founded by four football players, speak to an audience of over 5,000 attendees. Then, Spike Lee enters the stage to offer words in support of the students rallying for a free-standing Black cultural center. He also offers praise to the athletes involved in the movement and highlights the contributions of Black athletes in the rising prominence of college athletics. In an interview prior to his speech, Lee said that he was there to learn from and show support to the student leaders involved in this movement.

The rally was an important step in the multi-year, student-led advocacy for the building that would become the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

Learn more:

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.”

Archival Photo Mystery: Buncombe County Military Recruits, 1916-1917

During a recent renovation project at Wilson Library, we came across a couple of photographic postcards that had been set aside.  Based on a note left with the photographs, it appeared that the items had probably been separated from the University Papers; however, when we tried to find corresponding folders or items in the collection, we were unsuccessful.  Thus began our most recent processing mystery.

The backs of the postcards are blank, which leads us to believe that they were enclosed with a letter, likely sent to President Edward Kidder Graham in 1917.  The photos are dated in 1916 and 1917 and show how two men have gained weight over the course of several months, before-and-after style.

We were of course curious about who these two men were and why their photos were sent to President Graham.  Based on UNC records, it doesn’t look like either White or Bryson were ever students here, but after some searching, we did learn a few things.

After looking through census and military records, we found a little information about the first man — Jobe White. He was from Weaverville, N.C., born in February 1897 to Malissa White, and he had two brothers — Bradshaw and Hardy.  We were less successful in discovering the identity of the second man.  The writing on the postcard appears to show just initials and surname — W.C. Bryson  — and we can guess that he was also from Buncombe County.  While we did find records that gave us pause and made us wonder whether this was the same man, none contained enough information for us to make a confident match.

What we can say is this: both men were part of the First North Carolina Infantry in 1916 and 1917. They were both from Buncombe County.  And they both gained a significant amount of weight over the course of five months of military training. (White gained 30 lbs. and Bryson gained 50.)

Based on the years and regiment, they were probably sent to Texas as part of the Mexican Border Campaign, also known as Pershing’s Punitive Expedition or the Pancho Villa Expedition. The First Regiment mustered at Camp Glenn, in Morehead City, during the first week of August 1916, arrived in El Paso in September 1916, and returned to North Carolina in early February 1917.

While we were able to find out all this just using the captions on both photographs, where they came from is still a mystery.  Were they sent to President Graham enclosed with a letter? Why were they sent to him? Who sent them?  If these men were never UNC students, how were they connected to the University? If you have any ideas, please let us know in the comments on this post or get in touch at archives@unc.edu.


For further reading:

State Archives of North Carolina, First North Carolina Infantry Regiment Panoramic Photograph. http://ead.archives.ncdcr.gov/AV_7005_First_North_Carolina_In_.html

National Archives, The United States Armed Forces and the Mexican Punitive Expedition: Part 1. https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1997/fall/mexican-punitive-expedition-1.html

A New Addition of Athletics Photographs from the 1960s and 1970s

We are excited to announce that a new accession of photographs to the Department of Athletics Collection is available for research. This accession is particularly special since it contains images of less-documented sports — including women’s sports and intramural sports — from the 1960s and 1970s.

Included in this addition are images of the Titleholder’s Championship (also called the Women’s Pro Tournament), held at Southern Pines and sponsored by UNC in 1972.  The Titleholder’s Championship was only a handful of championship-level events for professional women’s golf in the 1970s, and the winner of the event — Sandra Palmer — was one of the most accomplished female golfers of the time. The addition also includes photographs of the 1963 renovations to Kenan Stadium.

The selection of photos below include images of men’s intramural handball; women’s intramural basketball, volleyball, tennis, and bowling.


An evening with William Shatner at Memorial Hall, 1976


Shatner speaking with “pomp, bombast, humor, and terror.”  The Daily Tar Heel,  November 8, 1976

Trekkies unite! 41 years ago today, William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk, spoke at Memorial Hall, where he gave a performance about the history of science-fiction.

However, the Enterprise captain experienced less-than-smooth sailing in Memorial Hall on November 4, 1976.  The Daily Tar Heel reported on November 8, 1976, that Shatner “couldn’t command the film projector of the PA system to work” and was therefore unable to show planned video footage.

Despite the lost battle against machines, Shatner continued his performance with gusto. Although many guests left because of the technology problems, those who stayed enjoyed a passionate performance.

His appearance at UNC was part of a 40-day tour of 40 colleges and universities, and his performance at Hofstra University was recorded for distribution.

Advertisement in The Daily Tar Heel, November 1, 1976

Now Available: Edie Parker Papers

We are pleased to announce a new addition to University Archives, the Edie Parker Papers.

Edie Parker (then Edie Knight) attended UNC from 1947 to 1949. As a student, she was active in student government, Greek life, and the Model United Nations. The collection — mostly in the form of a scrapbook — includes materials from the Women’s Intercollegiate Government Forum that Parker planned, orientation booklets, rush invitations, clippings about the Model UN from the Daily Tar Heel, and letters from male suitors. While at UNC, Parker also participated in a conference about the U.S. role in European recovery from World War II that Mademoiselle magazine hosted in 1948. Her notes from the conference are included in the collection. Parker’s scrapbook and accompanying papers provide insight into the life of a woman student at UNC during the late 1940s.

Below, we’ve highlighted just a few items from the Edie Parker scrapbook, including photographs of UNC students and the 1949 UNC Commencement program.

Guide to Good Times: Summer Fun in Chapel Hill in 1979

Chapel Hill has always slowed down in the summer. Even with a growing population of summer school students and programs, the campus and town remain comparatively quiet in the months between commencement and the start of fall classes.

The summer staff of the Daily Tar Heel in 1979 took on the challenge of finding a summer activity for every letter of the alphabet. Presented below, from the issue published on May 31, 1979, is the “Guide to Good Times,” the ABCs of summer entertainment in Chapel Hill.