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.”

The History of The Nutcracker at UNC

Attending a performance or two of “The Nutcracker” is a yearly holiday tradition among many families across the United States. It continues to be a staple in the repertoire of dance companies around the country and for countless theater-goers, a first glimpse into the world of ballet.

The ballet’s music was created in 1892 by Russian composer Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky based on the story The Nutcracker of Nurembourg by Alexandre Dumas. Dumas, the 19th century French writer most known for penning The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, adapted the story from E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov has been developed and changed over time. One of the most famous and reproduced renditions was created by George Balanchine, an enduringly prominent and influential figure in American ballet. (Fisher, 2012)

Like many classical ballets, modifications to the choreography have been made over time. Ballet training, aesthetic preferences and dancers capabilities are much different than they were when “The Nutcracker” was created (Daprati, Iosa & Haggard, 2009). Many artistic directors have also changed the racially and ethnically insensitive depictions of characters in the “Tea” and “Coffee” variations performed in the second act. One of the campaigns at the forefront of these changes today is the online platform Final Bow for Yellowface, led by New York City Ballet’s Georgina Pazcoguin (Lansky, 2018). Overall, directors have adapted the ballet to fit particular time periods, locations and tastes.

From the Daily Tar Heel, 16 May 1959.

At UNC, the first performance of The Nutcracker was by The Area Ballet in Memorial Hall nearly 60 years ago on May (not December!) 16, 1959. It was choreographed by John R. Lehman and sponsored by the UNC Music Club. (Daily Tar Heel, 1959). In 1978, the Carolina Dancers performed a funnier, “wilder” take on the traditional ballet with magicians on roller skates, punk rockers and candy cane pillows. It featured cameos from some of UNC’s faculty and notable dance professionals from across the Triangle. (Robinson, 1978). This performance was repeated in 1980, with appearances by UNC dancers, and again, dancers from around the city, such as M’liss Dorrance, Jack Arnold and Donald Blumenfeld (Moore, 1980). In 1989, the first occurrence of The Nutcracker: The Play was adapted by Karl Joos for Playmakers Repertory Company from the original E.T.A. Hoffman stories. (Daily Tar Heel, 1989). It has also been adapted by former Artistic Director David Hammond and current Chair of Dramatic Art and Dramaturg for Playmakers, Adam Versényi.

From the Daily Tar Heel, 6 December 1978.

UNC’s performance presenting organization, Carolina Performing Arts, has fused the tradition into the creation of their performance season every year. In 2009, the Carolina Ballet started performing The Nutcracker at Memorial Hall in addition to performing at theaters in Raleigh and Durham. The ballet, adapted by Artistic Director Robert Weiss, has plenty of occurrences of magical illusions, with bodies disappearing and appearing in boxes, trees growing and beds miraculously sailing across the stage on their own. (Strange, 2011). The audience is peppered with young people in awe of not only the magician Dosselmeyer’s tricks, but also the magic of attending live ballet.

Carolina Performing Arts 2012/2013 season brochure, Issu.

References and further reading:

Carolina Performing Arts. (2012, Dec. 31). Carolina performing arts 2012/2013 full season brochure. Issu.

Daprati, E., Iosa, M., & Haggard, P. (2009). A dance to the music of time: aesthetically-relevant changes in body posture in performing art. PLoS One4(3), e5023.

Fisher, J. (2012). The Nutcracker. Dance Heritage Coalition.

Lansky, Chava. (2018, Nov. 30). NYCB’s Georgina Pazcoguin on her new initiative to eliminate Asian stereotypes in ballet. Point Magazine.

Moore, Tom. (1980, Dec. 5). ‘Nutcracker to be presented.’ The Daily Tar Heel, 88(68), 9.

Robinson, Cathy. (1978, Dec. 6). Dancers inject humor in adapting ‘Nutcracker’. The Daily Tar Heel, 86(68), 1.

Strange, Deborah. (2011, Dec. 1). Carolina Ballet’s the nutcracker updated with magic tricks”. The Daily Tar Heel.

The Daily Tar Heel. (1989, Nov. 17). The nutcracker: a play [advertisement]. The Daily Tar Heel97(93), 11.

The Daily Tar Heel. (1959, May 16). ‘Nutcracker suite’ performed in Memorial Hall at 8 tonight. The Daily Tar Heel, LXVII(167), 1.

Noteworthy Firsts: Lenoir Chambers

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.

Lenoir Chambers was one of the first three Carolina alumni, along with W. Horace Carter and Vermont C. Royster, to receive the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.

He graduated from Virginia’s Woodberry Forest School in 1910 and received an A.B. degree from The University of North Carolina in 1914. He then studied at the Columbia University School of Journalism from 1916 to 1917. After working on the Washington staff of the New Republic, he served overseas during World War I as a first lieutenant of infantry with the 52nd Infantry, Sixth Division. After the war, Chambers directed UNC’s news bureau until 1921, when he joined the Greensboro Daily News.

Chambers was married to Roberta Burwell Strudwick in 1928. They had a daughter, Elizabeth Lacy, in addition to a son from Ms. Chambers’ first marriage, Robert Strudwick Glenn.

In 1929, Chambers became associate editor of the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk under editor Louis I. Jaffe. Chambers became editor of the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch in 1944 and editor of the Virginian-Pilot in 1950, after Jaffe’s death. He was also the author of the biography Stonewall Jackson (1959) and Salt Water and Printer’s Ink (1967), a history of newspapers in the Norfolk, VA area.

Chambers was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his series of 12 editorials on the school integration problem in Virginia. He was very opposed to segregation, much to the surprise of those who knew him as a North Carolinian and the biographer of a Confederate general. His series in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot began with “The Year Virginia Closed the Schools,” published January 1, 1959.

Lenoir Chambers in 1914. [From the Yackety Yack yearbook, 1914].

The story is this: in 1958, Virginia closed the doors of a Warren County high school in Front Royal and two schools in Charlottesville. Perhaps most personally to Chambers, six schools in Norfolk were closed. The reason? To avoid desegregating them. With this action, Chambers wrote, the state denied nearly 13,000 children “the kind of education which the people of Virginia had in mind when they wrote… their Constitution.” This first editorial ended with a call to action:

The question Virginians must ask themselves on this New Year’s Day is what they can, and will, do in 1959 to recover from the tragedy of 1958.

The final editorial of the series was “The Year Virginia Opened the Schools,” published on the final day of 1959. Thoughtful and sober, it too ends with a challenge:

But the old years of impracticality, unconstitutionalism, and futility are on the way out. If Virginia can produce more willingness to face the facts and fresh qualities of initiative and leadership in dealing with them, the year the state opened the schools can lead to a new year of hope.

Between the poles defined by those two editorials, much changed in Virginia. Resistance to desegregation crumbled in the face of public school teachers, angry parents, and complaints by business owners. Eventually peaceful desegregation, on a limited scale, took place.

Chambers retired in 1961 and afterward continued to write and lecture and to serve on many civic and historical boards, including the Society of Newspaper Editors, the Virginia Historical Society, and the National Conference of Editorial Writers. He passed away in 1970, but Robert Mason’s letter nominating him for the Pulitzer is an admirable tribute to his spirit.

He never wavered. He wasted no time on the fiction of what might have been or might be. When some of his colleagues of the Virginia press at last joined him in his view, he welcomed them warmly, and he did not chide them for the lateness of their education.

It is not too much to say, I am persuaded, that Lenoir Chambers has done more, and under conditions more vexing and longer sustained, to give logic and direction to Virginia, and to the whole South, in the school problem than any other editor.

Many of Chambers’ papers are preserved in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library.

Sources and Further Reading:

Lenoir Chambers Papers (#3827), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lenoir Chambers Wins the Pulitzer Prize!The Virginian-Pilot May 2, 2013

Salt Water and Printers Ink. Lenoir Chambers. The University Of North Carolina, 2011.

Stonewall Jackson. Lenoir Chambers. Broadfoot Pub. Co., 1988.

Yackety Yack, 1914

 

Noteworthy Firsts: Dr. William Alexander Darity, Sr.

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.

Image result for Dr. William Alexander Darity, Sr. unc
Darity in 2011. [From University of Massachusetts-Amherst].
Dr. William Alexander Darity, Sr. was born January 15, 1924, in East Flat Rock, North Carolina. He was born to Aden Randall and Elizabeth Smith Darity, neither of whom had an education past 6th grade. Nonetheless, Darity went on to pursue a collegiate education. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Shaw University and his Master’s of Science in Public Health from North Carolina Central University.

In June 1964, he became the first African-American to earn a Ph.D from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in what is now the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior, an accomplishment that only took him only two years to complete. His thesis was titled Contraceptive Education: The Relative Cultural and Social Factors Related to Applied Health Education with Special Reference to Oral Contraceptives.

Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., Darity accumulated 10 years of international experience with the World Health Organization, where he focused on malaria eradication. He also spent two years working with The North Carolina Fund, an anti-poverty agency. Afterwards, in 1965, Darity joined the University of Massachusetts-Amherst faculty; there were only three full-time faculty members in the public health department when he joined. Darity also helped to found the Black Caucus of Health Workers of the American Public Health Association (APHA) in the late 1960s. He became head of the department in 1968 and was named dean of the School of Health Sciences in September 1973.  Immediately before his appointment at University of Massachussetts-Amherst, Darity served as Director of Program Development for the North Carolina Fund, Inc. (a statewide, privately funded, non-profit, anti-poverty organization). 

Darity in 1974. [From Gillings School of Global Public Health].
In 1977 he received a Distinguished Service Award from the UNC School of Public Health Alumni Association, and he served as a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees from 1985 and 1991. In 1996 UNC named him a distinguished alumnus. In 2014 he was inducted into the Golden Rams Society, a group for alumni who matriculated at the University 50 or more years ago.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, one of Darity’s final research efforts at University of Massachussetts-Amherst was both extensive and important. He served as the principal investigator for a $3.4 million, five-year research study on smoking and cancer in black populations; the study explored the multitude of factors that lead to smoking and the accompanying health risks among low-income black communities.

After retirement, he continued to use his influence to do good. After his urging upon his retirement, the UoM-Amherst Division of Public Health became a School of Public Health with its own dean. The Division of Nursing also became a School of Nursing with its own dean. Moreover, he served as senior associate and deputy director for the Asia and the Near East for the Population Council of New York. He passed away in 2015 at age 91.

Sources:

Noteworthy Firsts: Sallie Walker Stockard

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.

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A portrait of Sallie Walker Stockard [From the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives]
In 1898, Sallie Stockard became the first woman to graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a thesis called Nature in Poetry. A few years later she triumphed again, earning a masters degree.

Before attending UNC, Stockard went to other institutions. In 1892, at the age of 23, Stockard enrolled in Guilford College — a school only 4 years old at the time.

The trustees of UNC voted to open its doors to women for postgraduate studies in January of 1897. Five women including Stockard were accepted, but the university was unprepared for the possibility that a woman would actually complete a degree. When Stockard did finish (the only one of the four to do so), she was excluded from all ceremonies, including the actual presentation of degrees and class pictures. She would stay on at UNC until earning a masters degree in 1900.

After obtaining her master’s degree, she left North Carolina for Clark University in Massachusetts where she published a dramatization of the Song of Solomon. By 1904 she had moved to Arkansas, where she married. She then moved to New Mexico, where she had two children. She separated from her husband soon after the birth of her second child, and in the 1920s, she moved to New York City and enrolled in Columbia University’s Teachers College. In 1924 she received a second masters degree there.

Over the course of her life, Stockard published several books on local history, both in North Carolina and other places she lived. Her master’s thesis at UNC was The History of Alamance, and was reprinted by the Alamance Historical Museum in 1986. Her second book, The History of Guilford County, North Carolina, was published in in 1902. In Arkansas, she published A History of Lawrence, Jackson, Independence and Stone Counties of the Third Judicial District of Arkansas.

In the 1940s, she wrote an autobiography detailing life in rural Alamance and her UNC experience, Daughter of the Piedmont: Chapel Hill’s First Co-Ed Graduate. Around the same time she founded a newspaper,  the Nassau Golden Fleece News Gleaner, in her new home of western Long Island, NY.

Stockard passed away at age 93 in Long Island.

Sources and Further Reading:

103rd UNC Commencement Pamplet

Dean, Pamela. Women on the Hill: a History of Women at the University of North Carolina. Division of Student Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1987.

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4042

“‘Daughter of the Piedmont’ by Sallie Walker Stockard” in Miscellaneous Writings, circa 1893-1956 #03704-z, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finding Aid: https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/03704/

“Stockard, Sallie Walker (1869-1963): Scan 1” in Digital North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

Stockard, Sallie Walker. History of Guilford County, North Carolina. Nabu Press, 2010.

Stockard, Sallie Walker. History of Lawrence, Jackson, Independence, and Stone Counties of the Third Judicial District of Arkansas. Little Rock: Arkansas Democrat Co., 1904.

Noteworthy Firsts: Johnston Blakeley

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.

Captain Johnston Blakeley (sometimes spelled Blakely) was a successful naval officer during the War of 1812 and the first University of North Carolina alumnus to give his life in military service to the United States.

Blakeley had a long journey to Chapel Hill. Born in County Down, Ireland in 1781, he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1783. Tragically, his mother died during the voyage. His family lived in Wilmington, NC, but he spent much of his youth in school in Flatbush, Long Island, NY.

In 1796 he entered UNC (making him a contemporary of Hinton James) and was a member of the Philanthropic Society by 1797. The first speech he gave to the society “spoke on the happiness of ye farmers.” His later speeches and compositions covered a variety of topics: the education of women, Jacobinism, the advantages of education, self-government, the state of France and America, Brutus’ speech to the Romans, advantages of riches and poverty, and tobacco. He even gave a reading of Ulysses’ speech to Alcinous and the queen from The Odyssey.

A 1797 record of Blakeley’s presentation to the Philanthropic Society about women’s education [From the Records of the Philanthropic Society, University Archives].
In 1797, when Blakeley was 16, tragedy struck again. His father died and he was orphaned, becoming a ward of Edward Jones of Rockrest, Chatham County. Moreover, he was left without money due to a disastrous fire that destroyed his family’s warehouses.

Portrait of Johnston Blakeley. [From the North Carolina Portrait Index, North Carolina Collection].
In 1800 he joined the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, becoming a lieutenant seven years later. In 1812 he served on the President and the Enterprise before being made  Master Commandant and put in command of the Wasp and its 173 person crew.  In 1814 he sank and captured a number of British ships, among them were Three Brothers, the Bacchus, the HMS Reindeer and HMS Avon. He also captured the Atalanta, a supply ship laden with wine, brandy, and silk. Though Blakeley had a custom of burning the ships he battled, there was doubt as to the Atalanta’s nationality. Instead, he put Midshipman David Geisinger and a prize crew aboard. On September 22, 1814 the Atalanta set sail to Savannah, Georgia, where she arrived safely in November. No further word was ever received from the Wasp.

A Wilmington marker memorializing Blakeley. [From North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program].
Rumors abound about Blakeley’s mysterious disappearance. A privateer claimed to have seen the Wasp off the Canary Islands. The British frigate Lacedemonian was believed by some to have sunk her off Charleston, South Carolina. John C. Calhoun even heard a report that she was operating in the Pacific Ocean. It’s more likely that the Wasp simply sank due to winds, but whatever the case he and his men never returned.

In January of 1815 his wife, Jane Hoope Blakeley, gave birth to a daughter, Udney Maria. The following year the North Carolina legislature resolved to pay for Udney’s education and to provide the family with funds. The legislature planned to give Udney a sword in memory of her father, but in the end, at her mother’s suggestion, she was given a  silver tea service. In 1904, the US Navy honored Blakeley with the naming of a battleship, the USS Blakely.

A poem written by a “highly gifted and accomplished young lady” demonstrates the power of Blakeley’s legacy:

No more shall Blakeley’s thunder roar
Upon the stormy deep;
Far distant from Columbia’s shore
His tombless ruins sleep;
But long Columbia’s song shall tell
How Blakeley fought, how Blakeley fell.

Sources:

Homans, Benjamin. Army and Navy Chronicle. Vol. 6, 1838.

“Johnston Blakeley, 1781-1814.” North Carolina Portrait Index, 1700-1860. Chapel Hill: UNC Press. p. 25.

“Minutes, 1795-1959.” in the Philanthropic Society of the University of North Carolina Records, 1795-1959 #40166, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program, ID D-37

S. M. Lemmon, Frustrated Patriots: North Carolina and the War of 1812 (1973).

Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library (Record Group 45), United States National Archives.

A. R. Newsome, “Udney Maria Blakeley,” North Carolina Historical Review 4 (1927).

Noteworthy Firsts: Irene Dillard Elliott and Anna Forbes Liddell

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.

1924 was a big year for UNC-Chapel Hill: that year, the university awarded doctorates to women for the first time. The two recipients were Irene Dillard Elliott and Anna Forbes Liddell.

Irene Dillard Elliott
Elliott earned a BA from Randolph-Macon Women’s College; she went on to earn an MA from the University of South Carolina in 1921. Her next stop was UNC, where she earned a Ph.D. in English. Her dissertation was A History of Literature in South Carolina. After receiving her Ph.D., she made her return to University of South Carolina, becoming an English professor and the first dean of women in the school’s history. She retired in 1935, but then returned in 1946 as a professor of English at USC to compensate for teachers lost to World War II. She continued teaching until 1964.

In addition to her teaching and administrative duties, Elliott founded the South Carolina chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). In the 1960s, Dr. Elliott gave funds to start a scholarship fund for students at the Tamassee DAR School and Children’s Home, located in upstate South Carolina. Through the Elliott Scholarship Fund, the chapter currently gives funds each year to the Tamassee DAR School for scholastic purposes.

The 1924 UNC commencement pamphlet listing the theses of Dillard and Liddell.

Anna Forbes Liddell in 1969. [From Florida Memory, photographed by Richard Parks].
Anna Forbes Liddell
Anna Liddell received her BA from UNC in 1918 and an MA from Cornell in 1922. She returned to UNC, earning a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1924. Her dissertation was titled, The Logical Relationship of  the Philosophy of Hegel to the Philosophies of Spinoza and Kant. 

Liddell was an active suffragette in addition to being an academic. In 1913, prior to joining the university, Liddell helped to form the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League in Charlotte. In a Life magazine contest to see who could produce the best original article on feminism, her entry was one of eight selected and purchased from among the 3,000 submitted.

From 1925 to 1926, Liddell was professor of social studies at Chowan College. In the fall of 1926 she joined the faculty of the Florida State College for Women (which became Florida State University in 1947), where she taught philosophy until her retirement in 1962. She served as head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion from 1932 to 1951.

In 1978, then 87 years old and using a wheelchair, she attended a rally in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in Florida and rebuked lawmakers for not supporting the amendment. Liddell passed away in 1979.

Sources:

Florida Memory

Lambert, Barbara Elizabeth. “Liddell, Anna Forbes.” Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Vol. 4, L-O. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Mack, Tom, editor. South Carolina Encyclopedia Guide to South Carolina Writers. Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2014.

http://www.sc.edu/bicentennial/pages/rootedpages/elliott.html

South Carolina Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution

South Carolina Encyclopedia entry on Irene Elliott

129th UNC Commencement Pamphlet

Walter James Forbes Liddell Papers, 1831-1914
Finding Aid: https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/00904/

 

Noteworthy Firsts: Vermont C. Royster

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.

When Vermont C. Royster began his studies at UNC in 1931, he was no stranger to the campus.  He was born in Raleigh, and his father, Wilbur Royster, was a professor of Greek and Latin at the university. Although Royster did receive his degree in Classics, his mark on UNC as a student, alumnus, and professor was made through his journalism — writing for the Wall Street Journal and later teaching at the School of Journalism. Royster was one of the first UNC alumni to receive a Pulitzer prize in 1953 (the same year as W. Horace Carter), and he later received a second Pulitzer in 1984.

Royster’s profile in the 1935 Yackety Yack.

Royster began his journalism career at UNC, where he worked for several campus publications, including The Daily Tar Heel and The Student Journal.  During his senior year, he revived and wrote a column in the Daily Tar Heel titled “Around the Well,” which highlighted and described various campus happenings and gossip.

In addition to being drawn to journalism at UNC, he was also an active writer and participant in the Department of Dramatic Arts.  As part of a play-writing course, he wrote and staged two plays — Shadows of Industry and Prelude — both of which can be found in the archives.

After graduating, Royster went on to begin the journalism career for which he is well known.  He moved to New York and began working for the Wall Street Journal in 1936.  He retired from the Wall Street Journal in 1971 and joined UNC’s School of Journalism as a faculty member later that year.  Over the course of his career — both as a professional journalist and university professor — he won two Pulitzer Prizes: the first in 1953 for Editorial Writing and the second in 1984 for Commentary.

Royster died in 1996, and his personal papers are housed in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library. In addition, Royster published several books over the course of his life — including My Own, My Country’s Time, A Pride of Prejudices, and Journey Through the Soviet Union — all of which can be found in UNC Libraries.

Sources & Additional Readings:

Collection of “Around the Well” columns

“Vermont C. Royster (1914-1996),” written by Will Schultz.  North Carolina History Project. http://northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/vermont-c-royster-1914-1996/.

Vermont Royster papers #4432, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Essential Royster: a Vermont Royster reader. edited by Edmund Fuller. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books, 1985.

My Own, My Country’s Time: a journalist’s journey. Vermont Royster. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books, 1983.

A Pride of Prejudices. Vermont Royster. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books, 1984.

Journey through the Soviet Union.  Vermont Royster. New York, D. Jones [1962].

Noteworthy Firsts: Patricia Horoho

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.

Patricia Horoho was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She went to school in Fayetteville and then enrolled at UNC, graduating in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

After leaving UNC, Horoho began a successful career as a nurse and later as an administrator in the U.S. Army. She was serving in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and provided first aid to many of the victims of the attack. The American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum honored her service on September 11 by recognizing her as a “Nurse Hero.” In 2009, Horoho received the USO Woman of the Year award.

In 2011, Horoho was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. She was the first nurse and the first woman to serve in that role. She completed a four-year term as Surgeon General in December 2015 and retired from the Army in 2016.

Sources  & Further Reading

SON Alumna Becomes Army Surgeon General.” December 6, 2011. UNC School of Nursing news release.

“First Rank: Nurse Nominated to be Army Surgeon General.” Carolina Alumni Review, September/October 2011, p. 57.

Campus Events 2011: School of Nursing and the Kenan Flagler Business School: General Patricia Horoho (Presentation), in the News Services of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40139, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Noteworthy Firsts: Karen L. Parker

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.

Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Karen L. Parker made history at UNC in 1965, when she became the first African American woman to receive an undergraduate degree from the University.

Parker began her studies at UNC in 1963 following two years of study at the North Carolina Women’s College in Greensboro (now UNC-Greensboro). During her time at UNC, she took an active role in the local and national civil rights movements, participating in sit-ins and marches. The diary she kept as a student — which documents her experience on campus and in the community, her hopes and goals for the future, and the trials she encountered along the way — has been digitized and can be found in the Southern Historical Collection.  

At UNC, Parker majored in Journalism. For her senior year, she was named the editor of The Journalista news publication put out by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Parker was also chosen to participate in UNC’s exchange program with the University of Toronto.

After graduating, Parker went on to have a successful career in journalism, working at Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Michigan; the Los Angeles Times; and other publications before returning to North Carolina to work at the Winston-Salem Journal. She retired in 2010, and was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 2012.

Parker has been active with UNC, serving on the Friends of the Library Board and the Board of the General Alumni Association. In 2015, during the campaign to rename the former Saunders Hall (now Carolina Hall), a UNC student wrote to the Daily Tar Heel published a letter to the editor, suggesting that the building be renamed in honor of Karen Parker.

Sources and Further Reading:

A Role Model for Change.” UNC News Services, February 19, 2015.

Karen Parker.” I Raised My Hand to Volunteer, UNC Library Exhibit, 2007.

Morgan Jones, “Karen Parker: A Woman to Remember.” For the Record, UNC University Archives blog, March 18, 2013.

Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Oral Histories:

  • February 2007 interview with the Southern Oral History Program
  • April 2007 interview with the Southern Oral History Program
  • December 2012 interview with UNC-Greensboro
  • March 2016 interview with the Southern Oral History Program