Halloween is fast approaching, and students across campus are deciding what costume to wear for a night out on Franklin Street. The tradition of roaming Franklin Street on Halloween began in the early 1980s and while the tradition is well known across the state, it’s not the only way students on campus have celebrated the holiday. In the fall of 1981, residents of Mangum dormitory decided they wanted to buy an ice machine for the building. When they learned the University wouldn’t cover the costs under its enhancement policy, they took matters into their own hands and decided to raise the money themselves by staging a haunted house.
The first Mangum Haunted House opened at 7 p.m. on October 30, 1981 and visitors paid $1 for a guided tour through “madmen, a hell scene, a cemetery scene, and a lot of other scary scenes,” according to Mangum Resident Assistant Billy Leland (from the Daily Tar Heel, 30 October 1981). The 1st Annual Mangum Haunted House was open until midnight on the 30th and from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. on the 31st. The event was a success, and an ice machine was purchased.
The event continued until the mid-1990’s, with Mangum residents trying to create a new and scarier version of the haunted house each year, and beginning in 1982, proceeds from ticket and t-shirt sales were donated to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.
We recently received a group of photographs documenting the International Program in Sanitary Engineering Design (IPSED), a program established by the School of Public Health in 1962. The program attracted participants from all around the world to attend classes and complete internships in North Carolina, before returning to their home countries. Application materials show that some of these engineers were responsible for delivering potable water to entire regions and cities in their home countries, which included Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Libya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Sudan, Taiwan, and Venezuela.
According to a report found on the website of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), IPSED was developed to fill a gap in sanitary engineering education for engineers from “developing countries.” Prior to the creation of IPSED, promising sanitary engineers from these countries would attend schools in Europe or the United States. The design concepts taught at these schools had little practical application in the engineers’ home countries, where they would face radically different socioeconomic and technological conditions. The classes and internships offered by the IPSED program were oriented toward the unique sanitary engineering challenges that these engineers would face when they returned home.
The photographs shown here give a glimpse into the lives of a diverse group of sanitary engineers, learning and collaborating in Chapel Hill in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1994, the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center sponsored a three-day program for leaders of African American student groups at UNC. The Black Student Leadership Summit included sessions on leadership and community outreach and gave students opportunities to discuss issues and ideas. The event kicked off on the evening of September 2, 1994, with an opening reception and dinner followed by a featured speaker from out of town: Barack Obama.
The future president had received nationwide attention when he was elected as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was working as a Civil Rights lawyer in Chicago at the time of his visit to Chapel Hill.
Obama, whose first name was misspelled as “Barak” in the conference program, was listed as a “motivational speaker.” Unfortunately, there is little record of his speech or his visit. The booking was arranged through an agency, so there is no correspondence with Obama. The file did not include any photographs and the conference was not covered in the Daily Tar Heel.
The conference was held at the Aqueduct Conference Center south of Chapel Hill, so it’s likely Obama never even made it to campus. About all we can tell from the records is that the the visit was short: notes on travel arrangements showed that he arrived the afternoon of the 2nd, spent the night at the Omni Europa, and then flew back on the morning of the 3rd. Obama received a $1,500 honorarium for his talk. A handwritten note in the file said that he was travelling with his wife, so it appears that future First Lady Michelle Obama was here as well.
While we don’t know what Obama said, we do know that his speech was well received. With approval ratings that President Obama (or any politician) would envy, 21 out of 22 people responding to a post-conference survey said that they enjoyed Obama’s talk. Attendees said that they “Liked his views and thoughts about values and picking our battles,” and “liked the fact that he was a very successful Black man fighting for the betterment of Black people.” One respondent called him “inspirational.” Another said, “He was a little long.”
In researching Professor Andrew Henry Patterson for my last blog post, I came across an interesting document among his personal papers. In 1902, while still a professor at the University of Georgia, Patterson delivered a speech at the centennial assembly of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, N.C. titled “The Planet Mars – Is It Inhabited?” Following this address, the speech was supposed to be stored in a sealed envelope in the Salem Academy archive and reopened in 2002 “to compare theories in 1902 with those 100 years later.” However, attempts to find the speech at the Salem Academy archives in 1964 were unsuccessful. The speech now held by UNC is a copy of a draft of the original, acquired from Andrew Patterson’s son Dr. Howard Patterson.
It is now fourteen years after Patterson had intended the speech to be reopened, and our knowledge of the planet Mars far surpasses what was theorized in 1902. The most compelling evidence for life on Mars discussed in the speech was the existence of canals on the Martian surface, first observed by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877. Patterson devotes a great deal of his speech to corroborating the existence of these canals by citing other astronomers, concluding that “On the whole, I believe we may consider the existence of the so-called ‘canals’ as proved by most careful and reliable observers in many parts of the world.” Patterson proposes the theory that these canals are artificially created for irrigation. Astronomers of the period also observed that the polar caps of Mars appeared and disappeared according to the Martian season, theorizing that these could be sources of water for the vast irrigation networks. Patterson even imagines just how differently life might have evolved on Mars, stating “what manner of beings thet [sic] may be we lack the data even to conceive.” In his conclusion, Patterson stated his belief “that Mars seems to be inhabited is not the last but the first word on the subject.”
Despite the wide gap in astronomical knowledge between 1902 and today, the accuracy of some theories is impressive. With regards to the difficulty many astronomers had in observing Schiaparelli’s canals, Patterson cites a Dr. Fison, who argues “that these canals have not been seen at the Naval Observatory, Harvard Observatory, Yerkes Observatory and others having far better telescopes than those used by Schiaparelli, who had an 8 1/3-inch glass, and by Lowell, who had a 24-inch, and therefore the canals must be optical illusions.” Fison was ultimately correct about the canals being optical illusions. Patterson also quotes Fison accurately describing the surface of Mars as “a succession of bleak arid deserts over which the rays of the vertical sun would seem to struggle in vain to mitigate the blasting chill of attenuated air.” However, Fison then went on to suppose the existence of “elementary forms of vegetation capable of withstanding the rigors of a climate more than artic [sic] in character.” Patterson addresses the question of polar ice caps by citing scientists who believed “the snow caps to be composed of solid Carbon Dioxide, instead of water. . . . the spectroscope shows no trace, or at least very little, of water vapor on Mars.” We now know that the polar caps are composed of both frozen carbon dioxide as well as water-ice.
114 years after Andrew Patterson delivered his speech on Mars, it is now possible to view the surface of Mars in 360 degrees through a web browser. Using virtual reality technology, it is even possible to see what it would be like to stand on the “bleak arid deserts” of Mars from a first-person perspective.
UNC admitted its first African American students in 1951. While the students were able to enroll in classes and live in a dorm, many of the campus activities remained either closed to African Americans or strictly segregated. We came across an example of the students’ ongoing struggle to participate in normal campus life in a letter from James Walker to Chancellor Robert House in January 1952.
As the law school students planned their traditional spring dance, the question arose about whether the recently-admitted African American students would be able to attend. The student-run Law Association put it to a vote, asking whether the dance should be open to all students. The vote was fairly close, passing 82-63. The Daily Tar Heel reported on the “possible bi-racial dance,” calling it “the first in the history of the University and perhaps in the South” (DTH 1/15/52).
But the possibility of an integrated dance was quickly vetoed by the campus administration. Citing a Board of Trustees ruling prohibiting unsegregated social gatherings, Chancellor House wrote that “no mixed social functions shall be held on the University campus.” (DTH 1/16/52)
The letter shown below is James Walker’s response to House’s ruling. It is from the Chancellor’s records in University Archives, included among clippings and correspondence documenting desegregation efforts at the university, including Walker’s push to end segregated seating in Kenan Stadium.
Walker writes of his frustration at House’s decision, noting that it was especially cruel for having been announced right before exams. But Walker remains undeterred, writing, “I will never accept the denial of a privilege. I have made footprints around the world defending a free society.”
While looking through the University Papers this week, I found these exams administered at the end of the fall semester in 1885. There is one for Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics and English. Some of the questions would be familiar to a student today, but others, not so much. Can you tell us “what are the defects of our Alphabet?”
Exams administered December 1885 (from the University Papers, #40005, University Archives).
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the Cuban Club, a short-lived club for Cuban students at UNC in the early 20th century. This week, I came across a letter written just months after the Spanish-American War in which Major General Joseph Wheeler, president of the Cuban Educational Association, tells UNC President Edwin Alderman that he “note[s] with pleasure that you state that the University of North Carolina would easily give scholarships, remitting all tuition to several [Cuban students].”
The Cuban Educational Association operated from 1898 to 1901 and partnered with colleges across the United States to send Cuban and Puerto Rican college-age students to school in the United States. Universities and colleges offered one to two students a full scholarship to cover books, tuition and fees. The students and their families had to cover the cost of living, usually $200 – $300 annually. Therefore, most of the students coming to the United States were from the middle and upper classes. The scholarship mandated that the students return home after graduation.
Over the four years it was in operation, the Cuban Educational Association and its over 50 partner institutions helped to send over 2,500 students to school in the United States. When these students returned home, most became teachers, doctors and lawyers in their communities.
This letter was written 10 years before the Cuban Club appeared in the Yackety Yack, but it suggests that the influx of students from Cuba in the early 20th century may have been related to work begun by the Cuban Educational Association.
Letter to Dr. Alderman from Joshua (from the University Papers, #40005, University Archives).
While national prohibition was voted into law in 1919 with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, North Carolina had been dry since it passed a state-wide prohibition law in 1908. As the sale and consumption of alcohol in North Carolina had already been banned for twelve years when enforcement of the 18th Amendment began in 1920, prohibition had little direct effect on the University.
However, a 1925 German Club dance held around Thanksgiving prompted a harsh response from President H.W. Chase. Despite its name, the German Club was not related to the nation of Germany or the German language. Rather, the club, organized in the late nineteenth century, planned formal dances and other social events for its members. A ‘German’ was a kind of social dancing that became popular following the Civil War.
The incident caused by this dance was investigated by Andrew Henry Patterson, a professor of physics and Dean of the School of Applied Sciences. In his report to President Chase, Patterson noted that the conditions for illegal drinking were perfect as there were, “hundreds of visitors brought here by the game, and many of them with liquor. The wonder is that more drinking was not done[….]” The game to which Patterson referred was the annual Thanksgiving Day game against the University of Virginia. According to Patterson, “no estimate on the part of anybody as to the number of men who had taken a drink would run over 20 or 25% of those present,” and that “no shadow of a rumor that any girls were drinking has been found, which is encouraging.”
On the day this letter was sent to President Chase, December 4, 1925, he delivered an address to students in chapel discouraging the use of alcohol. Chase emphasized “the problem of the influence of drinking on the future business and social relations of the young men who make up the student bodies in our colleges today.” He went on to state “his opinion that drinking is now a thing for the vulgar and lower classes to indulge in” and that alcohol use was something “invariably leading to unmannerly and indecent conduct.”
This incident and its investigation prompted President Chase to suspend all dances at the University until the end of Easter holidays. This suspension also extended to “the giving of any dance by any University organization or student at any place outside the University campus.” When the suspension ended in April of 1926, the German Club adopted new bylaws that made its executive committee responsible to the University for the conduct at all dances, regardless of the clubs or groups hosting them. According to the Daily Tar Heel on April 15, 1926, these bylaws also imposed regulations on dances. These included no smoking on the dance floor, no girls leaving the dance hall without a chaperone, and strict end times for dances. Most dances were required to end by 1:00 AM, while Saturday night dances had to end by midnight. Some German Club dances were permitted to last until 2:00 AM. The German Club continued to organize dances and concerts until the late 1960s.
[President Chase’s letter to the German Club suspending all dances, from the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives]
In 2013, UARMS published a blog post highlighting the web archiving project of the UNC Libraries. To demonstrate how much the web had changed over time, this post featured UNC’s web page circa 1997. To update the information provided in that post, the Internet Archive now boasts 469 billion web pages saved since 1996 compared to the 366 billion pages saved in 2013. UARMS still actively captures and archives websites, which can be accessed through the University Archives’ Archive-It page.We have recently uncovered more documents related to the creation of this early UNC web page.
[Black and white print outs of the 1996 UNC homepage prior to being redesigned, from the Academic Technology and Networks of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records (#40224), University Archives]
In 1996, a group of faculty, staff, and students known as the Web-Walkers set out to redesign UNC’s home page. As highlighted in our 2013 blog post, the most prominent visual featured on the new web page was an acrostic spelling CAROLINA that was used to organize the links to other relevant web pages.
This acrostic was divisive among the Web-Walkers, with numerous correspondences both supporting and critiquing its use. One group member wrote in feedback that he would, “strongly suggest dropping the whole spelling-out of CAROLINA with section headings. As an acronym for website subsections, it looks, well, ‘cute,’ but it just doesn’t lend itself to a sensible organization of information.” This complaint was echoed by a self-described “Librarian and frequent UNC home page user,” who wrote that “forcing the logical categories of text to fit the word ‘Carolina’ is awfully cute and artificial.”
The redesign also garnered praise, with another group member writing, “the new UNC screen looks really good–very clever use of Carolina, too…I’ll bet that took some brainstorming.” This compliment was not unique, as another message stated, “It was very creative for someone to match CAROLINA with appropriate categories.” The problem with the acrostic became more apparent as users searched for content that had previously been accessible with a single click, such as “Departments and Organizations,” which was now buried several pages deep under the “Research and Academics” link.
The inspiration for the new categories originated with the University of Chicago’s homepage, which the Web-Walkers group used as a model. These categories were agreed upon before the CAROLINA acrostic was created:
When the design team chose to make the first letter big, it didn’t look quite right and they wanted to make it spell something. To get CAROLINA all they had to do was change Academic and Research to Research and Academic, Student Information to Information for Students, and add an O — Office of the Chancellor.
In the same email explaining the origin of the acrostic, the UNC Campus-Wide Information Systems Manager, who oversaw the website redesign, predicted that “this new page won’t last much more than a year.” The webpage would not be redesigned again until 1999, three years later.
Another major issue that arose in designing the new website was the color scheme. While the final version features Carolina Blue text over a white background, there is copious feedback featuring complaints about blue text and black links. As one Web-Walker wrote,
I find the main page color scheme (text in blue, links in black) to be _very_ confusing… a lot of browsers default to black text with blue links, and particularly with the C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A structure here it is not immediately clear whether the user should click on the initial letter or on the rest of the word.
This advice was never taken and the first letter of each category was never made part of the link. A follow-up email by the same person states that after showing the page to friends, “NONE managed to click on the actual links without several false starts.” The use of Carolina Blue as the font color, while rich in school pride, also posed a user interface problem. As one member reported, “the contrast is not very good, and it is difficult to read…I hate to say it, but a royal blue (Duke?) is much easier on the eyes.”
Since the design discussed in this blog post debuted in August of 1996, the UNC homepage has undergone three major redesigns. The most recent redesign was implemented in July of 2010, bringing us the homepage that is now familiar to all Tar Heels. Click on the screenshots below to peruse each iteration of the site in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
The UNC University Archives does not collect syllabi or reading lists from each course taught at UNC-Chapel Hill. Because this question comes up pretty often, I wanted to share more information about our process for determining what to collect and talk about cases where we make exceptions.
Records Schedule In deciding which official UNC records to collect, we are guided by the General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, which describes in detail the types of records created by the university and outlines rules stating which should be kept, and for how long. The records schedule was developed with the State Archives of North Carolina, which oversees official records statewide. Here’s what the schedule says about syllabi, in the section on curriculum and instruction records:
2.11 Syllabi and Outlines Records Records (including reference copies) documenting each course taught by the unit. This series may include but is not limited to: draft and final copies of course syllabi and outlines, and related documentation and correspondence.
Disposition Instructions: Destroy in office when reference value ends.
This means, simply, that syllabi should be kept only for as long as they’re useful in the office. That’s clear enough, but it does pose a dilemma: part of our job is documenting the history of the university, and detailed information about what is taught in specific classes is important to understanding the evolving curriculum at UNC.
Finding Historic Syllabi from UNC Syllabi, and materials related to the development of the academic curriculum at UNC, do show up in University Archives in administrative and departmental records, and also in faculty papers in the Archives and the Southern Historical Collection. A finding aid search reveals many collections with syllabi from UNC faculty and even more containing files on course offerings and curricula. Syllabi may also appear on websites that are collected as part of the UNC University Archives Web Archives.
Many UNC academic departments offer sample syllabi online, including some from previous years (we found examples from History, Biology, and Social Work).
Changes at UNC-Chapel Hill In 2012, the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council approved a resolution requiring standard elements in each syllabus and requiring that these be maintained for at least four years. This decision was driven by a desire for increased accountability and transparency regarding courses offered at the university. There are not currently any plans to retain these syllabi beyond the four year period mentioned in the resolution, unless a department decides that the syllabi would still be useful to keep on file.
Nationwide Efforts to Collect Syllabi There have been several projects aimed at collecting and analyzing information from college course reading lists nationwide. The largest current effort that I’m aware of is the Open Syllabus Project from Columbia University. Rather than presenting the content of individual syllabi, the website’s “Syllabus Explorer” aggregates assigned readings from submitted syllabi and enables users to view trends in texts used for college classes. The book appearing most frequently in the submitted syllabi is The Elements of Style, followed by Plato’s Republic and The Communist Manifesto.
The Open Syllabus project appears to have received many syllabi from UNC-Chapel Hill instructors. Elements of Style tops the list of most frequently assigned readings for UNC classes represented in the database, followed by SILS Dean Gary Marchionini’s book Information Seeking in Electronic Environments. This suggests that the library science courses are over-represented in the syllabi submitted from UNC. Either that or Marchionini’s work has crossed over into classic literature and is now being studied in English classes. We’d need more data to say for sure.
Syllabi and Intellectual Property
For this blog post, I’ve just focused on collection and preservation. There is a larger and more complicated debate around the issue of syllabi as intellectual property. This has played out most recently in Missouri where a legislative demand for transparency is countered with a desire among some faculty to protect their intellectual property. Any effort to collect and widely distribute the content of individual syllabi would have to address this issue.