Henry Patrick Merritt, Jr.: An Archival Photo Mystery Revealed

We are pleased to present this guest post from UNC-Chapel Hill student Autumn Linford. Autumn is a Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

Aros Coke Cecil’s photographs could be the work of any UNC undergrad of any era. Playing sports, the Old Well, friends goofing around, socializing with pretty co-eds: the images in Cecil’s 1917-1918 album wouldn’t seem out of place on a student’s Instagram page today.  There are photos of students studying, photos of students procrastinating, and even one of Cecil and a friend clowning around with a classroom skeleton (see figure 1).

There is only one photo in the album that stands out. A young man, college-aged, stands in a dorm room holding a bucket and broom (see figure 2) Pennants and framed pictures are tacked to the wall behind him. It isn’t the scene that sets this photograph apart. It’s the fact that the young man, who looks at home casually leaning up against a desk with neatly stacked books, is black.

Black men and women weren’t allowed to attend the university as students until 1951, following a federal court order that led to the admission of black students to graduate programs. African American undergraduates were not admitted until 1955. There were blacks on campus in 1917, but it was strictly in the role of staff, cooking or doing maintenance jobs or, as was likely case of the young man pictured, cleaning. That this man was photographed by a white student is surprising. That his photograph was carefully preserved in a book alongside Cecil’s other college memories seems remarkable.

While we know something about the photographer, nothing was written down about the young man pictured other than the suggestion that he may have been a janitor for the university’s dorms. Was he friends with Cecil? Was he seen as a mascot to the men in the dorm? Did he appreciate being photographed, or dislike it? Was he important to Cecil, or was this a way to finish out a roll of film?

There is so much that we can never know about this man, but I wanted to try to identify him with however much information I could. Utilizing the resources available online and in the Wilson Library’s collections, I was able to identify the young man in question as Henry Patrick Merritt, Jr.

My process was systematic and replicable. I first confirmed the janitor was, in fact, standing in a dorm room by examining other photographs in the collection and finding other shots of the same room. I then went through each page of Chapel Hill’s 1920 census record and found all black men employed on campus. I narrowed the list down to those working in dormitories, and then again to janitors, leaving about 10 men. It is difficult to tell how old the man in the picture is, but a conservative guess suggests he was between the ages of 15 and 35 at the time of the photograph. By eliminating all men whose ages were outside that frame, I was left with only three names: Johnson Merritt, Jr., Lee Baldwin, and Henry Merritt, Jr.

Other photographs in Cecil’s collection showed the college men receiving their draft information for WWI in 1917. I thought it likely that the black men on campus had received their notices at the same time. I looked up all three men in the WWI databases and found each of their war registration cards. In 1917, Johnson Merritt, Jr. wrote in his occupation as gardener for the college. Lee Baldwin listed his occupation as a laborer.  Henry Merritt, Jr., age 19, listed himself as a janitor for the dormitories at the University of North Carolina.

Merritt was born March 15, 1900 in Chapel Hill. His father, Henry Merritt, Sr. was a long-time janitor for the on-campus fraternity Kappa Sigma. Henry Jr. was the oldest of nine children: six sisters and two brothers. With so many younger siblings, the income Merritt made by working at the university would have been crucial to his family’s survival. At the time, janitors on campus were paid $14.93 a week, a wage that covered barely half of the average living expenses for blacks living in town at the time. Despite that, the wage was still considered “relatively high” for people of color at the time.[1]

After the war, Merritt worked for C. and P. Telephone Co. His father continued to work as a janitor at the university and features prominently in several editions of the Daily Tar Heel, including one with a four-column photograph in 1926 (see figure 3).[2]

A newspaper article titled "Five Cheerleaders at the Game Saturday" with a photo a five black men.
fig. 3 Henry Merritt, Sr. is pictured far right. [Click image to view article.]
We don’t know why Cecil took his photograph of Merritt, or why it was important enough for him to keep. We can’t know what Merritt felt while he posed or what he was thinking as he cleaned up after men he wasn’t allowed to call peers. But we do now know his name. In conjunction with the archivists at the Wilson Library, I have already begun the process of updating the system to include Merritt’s name and basic information. It is by treating him with dignity that we can begin to reckon with the past’s efforts to erase him and others like him.

References

[1] Dorothy Fahs, report. “Income and expenditure in 28 Chapel Hill Negro Families,” University of North Carolina Wilson Library.

[2] R.W. Madry, “Five Cheerleaders at the Game Saturday.” Daily Tar Heel, November 2, 1926. https://bit.ly/2rLme0j

Elephants and Butterflies . . . and Contraceptives

This post contains information about reproductive health that may be sensitive for some readers. 

A decade of change in UNC’s student population sparked several changes in reproductive and sexual health dialogue on campus.  From 1967 to 1977, women grew from 28.7% of the student body to 49.2%. Women were first allowed to enroll as freshman in most programs at the University in the early 1960s, and were admitted based on a higher academic standard until Title IX in 1972 (OIRA Fact Book, 1994). 

In December 1970, in response to a recognized need for more open dialogue about reproductive health on campus, a student and a faculty member started “Elephants and Butterflies,” a weekly column in the Daily Tar Heel. Created by student-activist Lana Starnes and Dr. Takey Crist, activist and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the column featured their responses to anonymous letters about health and sexuality.

dr. crist and lana starnes in office
Dr. Crist, holding a copy of the Elephants and “Butterflies…and Contraceptives” booklet and Lana Starnes, from “Rebellion in Black and White” by Robert Cohen and David J. Snyder

Some of the reasons Starnes and Crist cited for the necessity of the column were the high rate of unwanted pregnancies and the high rate and danger of illegal abortion (Bobo, 1973). Starnes noted that about 25,000 women sought an illegal abortion in North Carolina annually (Starnes, 1971). A few years earlier, in 1968, campus research showed that 60% of sexually-active women surveyed had not used contraceptives (Morrow, 2006, p. 12). Around the time, UNC administration denied the prescription of birth control to unmarried women, fearing that access to birth control and information would increase sexual activity (Warren, 1967). To make matters more difficult, if a student were unmarried and pregnant or found to have sought an illegal abortion, she would not be permitted to continue school (Unwed Pregnant Student Policy, Collection # 40124). 

The column grew out of the sexual health booklet titled “Elephants and Butterflies…and Contraceptives,” co-written by Dr. Crist and released in 1970.  To combat stigma and help dymystify human sexuality, Starnes and Crist wrote of their column:

“It is not our purpose to cause embarrasment or fear or shame, but to allow students to examine their educational presuppositions and value judgments concerning human sexuality. We feel your questions are legitimate, necessary and should make us respond thoughtfully, adequately and honestly.” (Starnes & Crist, 1971) 

Elephants and Butterflies newspaper column
Elephants and Butterflies column, Daily Tar Heel, February 14, 1972

The name of the booklet and column came from that same commitment to openness. It is a reference to the E.E. Cummings fairy tale, “The Elephant and The Butterfly”, a sweet, short story about love and dedication written for Cummings’ daughter (Popova, 2013). The story was printed in the beginning of the booklet, representing sexual relationships as ones that should be entered into with “caring and trust” (Cohen & Snyder, p. 201) In the health booklet, male physiology is described in the “Elephant” section and female physiology in the “Butterfly” section. (Starnes & Cheek, 1970)

the elephant and the butterfly front page
E.E. Cummings, Fairy Tales, illustrated by John Eaton [Rare Book Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library]
Subjects covered in the column ranged from how smoking affects sexual functioning (Sept. 6, 1971) to pregnancy after having a miscarriage (March 5, 1973). Sometimes, in leui of questions, readers could match definitions to a reproductive organ diagram (Sept. 25, 1972) or read an informative guide on STDs (October 1, 1973).

In 1972, the March 6th column was left blank in memory of an 18-year old student who died seeking an illegal abortion. That day, a somber message from Starnes and Crist in place of their usual advice asked if her death could have been prevented with proper birth control and counseling, ending with “We mourn in silence.” (March 6, 1972)

The final column was the seventh in a series of columns about contraception (March 4, 1974).  They omitted the recurring section requesting that students send in letters, but stated that the next essay (presumably the eighth) in the series would be on the future of birth control. They did not mention whether or not the column would return.

Learn more about Dr. Crist, Lana Starnes and “Elephants and Butterflies” in “Sexual Liberation at the University of North Carolina,” by Kelly Morrow, a chapter in Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s. (Robert Cohen and David J. Snyder, eds., Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2013). The article is based on Morrow’s 2006 master’s thesis, available in Carolina Digital Repository: https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/concern/dissertations/d504rm21k.

Sources:

Bobo, M. (1973). Lana Starnes: the woman who helped bring ‘Elephants and Butterflies’ to UNC. The Daily Tar Heelhttp://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1973-02-09/ed-1/seq-1/  

Cummings, E. E. & Eaton, J. (1965). Fairy tales. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. https://catalog.lib.unc.edu/catalog/UNCb3123616

OIRA. Fact Book: Bicentennial Edition, 1793-1993. https://oira.unc.edu/files/2017/07/fb1994_bicent.pdf 

Morrow, K. (2006). Navigating the “sexual wilderness”: The sexual liberation movement at the University of North Carolina, 1969-1973.

Morrow, K. (2013) “Sexual Liberation at the University of North Carolina.” Rebellion in black and white: Southern student activism in the 1960s. Edited by Robert Cohen and David J. Snyder. The John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

Popova, M. (2013). Vintage illustrations for the fairy tales e.e. cummings wrote for his only daughter, whom he almost abandoned. Brain Pickings.

Starnes, L. & Cheek, T. (1970). Elephants and butterflies..and contraceptives. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1970-10-11/ed-1/seq-3/  

Starnes, L . & Crist, T. (1971). Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1971-08-31/ed-1/seq-50/

Starnes, L. (1971). College loans for abortion? The Daily Tar Heelhttp://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1971-04-08/ed-1/seq-8/ 

Starnes, L. (1972). Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1972-02-14/ed-1/seq-6/

Starnes L. & Crist, T. (1973) Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1973-04-16/ed-1/seq-6/

Starnes L. & Crist, T. (1974) Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel.

Unwed Pregnant Student Policy, 1967, in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40124, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Warren, V. (1967). Should university health services provide the pill?”. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1966-02-03/ed-1/seq-1/

The Black Arts Festival, 1972-1981

There are many forms of protest and one of them is the uninhibited celebration of your culture and the artistic achievements of your peers. Last month at the Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented) symposium in Atlanta, one of the student panelists emphasized the necessity for uplifting depictions of black joy in addition to recognizing some of the struggles of activism. The Black Arts Festival, held by the Black Student Movement from 1972 to 1981, is an example of such joy.

Blue Poster Announcing Events
1975 Black Arts Festival Poster [Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, University Archives]
Called by 1973 Cultural Coordinator Algenon Marbley, “soul-stirring events” that “exemplify our culture through song, dance and drama,” the Black Arts Festival was an explosion of performances, workshops and lectures that featured artists not only from on campus, but throughout the United States. (Marbley, 1973)

Letter on BSM letterhead
Letter from Marbley to Chancellor Taylor [Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, University Archives]
The annual festival happened from 1972 to 1981, and featured performances from Black Student Movement subgroups like The Readers (now The Ebony Readers/Onyx Theatre), Opeyo Dancers (now Opeyo! Dance Company) and the Black Student Movement Gospel Choir. The festival was lauded as an event where black students could come together and express themselves through performance.

The relationships and roots of Black American art in the African diaspora were consistent themes in the 1973 festival. While performance seems to be the dominant form of expression in each year’s festival, the week-long series of events also featured panel discussions and classes. The festival in 1973 included a conversation between Chapel Hill’s first black mayor, Howard Lee, and activist Owusu Saudaki (Mills, 1973). Often, the BSM reached out to communities near UNC and workshops were taught by Durham’s Ebony Dance Theatre and the Bowie State Dancers (Starr, 1979).

In 1975, students expressed concern for continuing the festival, and conversations were had about how a black student organization on a predominantly while campus could thrive in terms of funding and administrative support. The festival was put on hiatus between 1976 and 1978, during which time the organization focused on other concerns like recruitment of black faculty and students (Carolina Union Records).

Speaker Contract with Black Panther Party
1974 Contract with Black Panther Party Speakers’ Bureau [Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, University Archives]
Recruitment Recommendations Text
BSM Recommendations for Recruitment 1975 [Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, University Archives]
Distressed by the lack of black artists coming to Chapel Hill, members of the BSM worked to revive the festival (Worsley, 1979). In 1979, black film and theater legend Cicely Tyson was invited to appear at Memorial Hall. That same year, co-sponsored by the Carolina Union, the award-winning and Grammy nominated New York Community Choir performed.

In 1980, the festival saw much less of an audience outside of the 300 audience members who came to support the Freshman Bloc, a skit-based variety show. The festival continued in 1981, with Wanda Montgomery as Cultural Coordinator. (Blossom, 1981). This is seemingly the last year, because in 1982, the BSM continued to fight for funding. The Black Arts Festival was under scrutiny, funding was cut and some of the events were added to Black History Month (Black Ink, 1982).

There are some occurrences of week-long events similar to the Black Arts festival after this. In 1991, an African American culture week called “African Americans in the Arts,” sponsored by the Black Cultural Centers Special Programming Committee, featured the Opeyo! Dancers (Mankowski, 1991). In the early 1990s, African American Culture Week is still mentioned in Black Ink. The Black Student Movement and its subgroups continue to produce, sponsor and curate performances, continuing their legacy as an organization that uplifts black joy.

References:

Black Student Movement in the Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40128, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Blossom, Teresa (1981). “BSM Black Arts Festival Arrives Mar 18-25”. Black Ink. Retrieved from
http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/2015236558/1981-03-17/ed-1/seq-3/

Mankowski, Melissa (1991). “Opeyo! Dancers Mix Modern with Traditional Steps”. The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1991-09-27/ed-1/seq-5/

Marbley, Algenon. (1973). “BACF Affect Apathy”. The Black Ink. Retrieved from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/2015236558/1973-04-01/ed-1/seq-4/

Mills, Janice. (1973). “Realm of Black Arts Explored”. The Black Ink. Retrieved from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/2015236558/1973-04-01/ed-1/seq-4/

Starr, Mary Beth. (1979). “Notable Groups Reflect Culture in Performance”. The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1979-03-23/ed-1/seq-12/

Williams, Linda (1974). “’74 Festival Set” Black Ink. Retrieved from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/2015236558/1974-03-01/ed-1/seq-1/

Worsley, Carolyn. (1979). “A Week of Arts, Entertainment.” The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved from
http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1979-03-23/ed-1/seq-12/

Unknown Contributor. (1982). “Choir Guilty as Charged” Black Ink. Retrieved from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/2015236558/1982-04-29/ed-1/seq-2/

Introduction to the History of Performing Arts at UNC Library Guide

UNC’s campus culture and the lives of students can be examined through the sometimes exciting, sometimes fraught lens of the performing arts.  From controversial visiting artists to the joyful and attentive work of student and faculty artists on campus, performance has played a major part in representing the sentiment of any given time in UNC’s history.

A sample of resources you might use for research and curiosity about UNC’s relationship with performance is now available through the History of the Performing Arts at UNC library guide.

Students and Teacher in Music Classroom
Music Department, circa 1940s-1969 [UNC at Chapel Hill Image Collection, Folder P0004/0694]
Following the resources in this guide, you may come across some interesting facts:

There are several sketches, drafts of music scores and notes from Paul Green’s work with Richard Wright on the theater adaptation of Native Son. Native Son is one of Wright’s most well-known works and was staged in 1941 by Orson Welles “with imagination and force” (Atkinson, 1941).

Preliminary Draft of Native Son [Paul Green Papers, 1880-2009, Folder 3278cb]

 

-Some performing arts groups on campus have been around longer than you might think. The Opeyo! Dance Company, founded by Herman Mixon in 1971, continues to participate in outreach. They still host Dancing for Hope in the Fall semester, a benefit offering donations to charitable organizations.

-Carolina Performing Arts’ records are surprisingly helpful for theater architects! Folders of information provide insight into the specifications required for remodeling Memorial Hall. The correspondence related to theater acoustics and audience seating are as architectural as they are performance-oriented in nature.

Visitors entering Memorial Hall
Transformed Memorial Hall [Carolina Performing Arts Records, 1990s-2014, Digital Folder DF-40428/2]
Using the Guide:

Kick off your research by using the Home tab as a directory to the subject, department, organization or medium you are exploring. For example, if you’re looking for the work of a playwright who was a professor at UNC, check for resources under the Academic Departments tab. If you’re looking for general photographs, ephemera or video, check the Visual Materials tab. You can access the library guide here.

Happy searching!

 

 

References:

Atkinson, Brooks (1941). “‘Native Son’ by Paul Green and Richard Wright, Put on by Orson Welles and John Houseman”. New York Times. Retrieved 10 April 2019 from https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1941/03/25/85265284.pdf

Campus History Walking Tour: Student Activism at UNC Chapel Hill

Two young black men sit at a table outside on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill. The table has sign that reads" BSM Legal Defense Fund/Help Students Pay Fine."
Black Student Movement members collecting money to pay fines levied against those arrested during participation in the Food Workers’ Strike, circa April 1969. From the 1972 Yackety Yack yearbook.

We are pleased to announce that the University Archives will be leading walking tours on the history of student activism at UNC Chapel Hill. These are offered in conjunction with the exhibit, Service, Not Servitude: The 1969 Food Workers’ Strikes at UNC Chapel Hill.

These tours will cover student activism at Carolina over several decades, highlighting examples of the different ways UNC students have joined together to make their voices heard and to advocate for change on campus, across the nation, and around the world. These tours will not cover every single instance of student activism – far from it – but will touch on a selection of the most prominent or most influential efforts by student activists and their allies. 

Because the stories of activism at UNC are far larger and more complex than can be covered in a single afternoon, we encourage everyone, whether they join us on the tour or not, to explore the resources listed below and learn more about student activism at Carolina. Locations in parentheses refer to where the topic is discussed on the tour.

Speaker Ban (Franklin Street) 

Student Protest Movements, UNC Libraries. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/protests_unc/speaker-ban 

“The Speaker Ban Controversy” from I Raised My Hand to Volunteer, UNC Libraries. https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/protest/speaker-essay

 

Confederate Monument (McCorkle Place) 

A Guide to Resources about UNC’s Confederate Monument, University Archives. https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/silent-sam/about. 

A Guide to Researching Campus Monuments and Buildings: “Silent Sam” Confederate Monument. UNC Libraries. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/campus-monuments/silent-sam 

 

Vietnam Protests (Campus Y) 

“Vietnam War Protests,” from I Raised My Hand to Volunteer, UNC Libraries. https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/protest/vietnam-essay 

Student Protest Movements, UNC Libraries. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/protests_unc/anti-war 

 

Anti-Apartheid Protests (South Building) 

Timeline of 1980s Anti-Apartheid Activism, University Archives. https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/uarms/index.php/2017/05/timeline-of-1980s-anti-apartheid-activism-at-unc/ 

Student Protest Movements, UNC Libraries. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/protests_unc/anti-apartheid 

 

Student Body Sculpture (Hamilton/Manning Courtyard) 

A Guide to Researching Campus Monuments and Buildings: The “Student Body” Sculpture, UNC Libraries. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/campus-monuments/student-body 

 

Saunders/Hurston/Carolina Hall (in front of Manning) 

Southern Oral History Program, interviews on Racial Justice Activism at UNC: https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/search/collection/sohp/searchterm/L.15.%20University%20of%20North%20Carolina:%20Racial%20Justice%20Activism/mode/exact 

 

Food Workers’ Strike (in front of Manning) 

“The BSM and the Foodworkers’ Strike,” from I Raised My Hand to Volunteer, UNC Libraries exhibit. https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/protest/foodworker-essay 

Student Protest Movements, UNC Library guide: https://guides.lib.unc.edu/protests_unc/food-workers 

 

Black Cultural Center Protests (in front of Wilson Library) 

“Student Protests in Support of the Black Cultural Center, 1992.” University Archives. https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/uarms/index.php/2015/11/student-protests-in-support-of-the-black-cultural-center-1992/ 

Southern Oral History Program, interviews on Racial Justice Activism at UNC: https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/search/collection/sohp/searchterm/L.15.%20University%20of%20North%20Carolina:%20Racial%20Justice%20Activism/mode/exact 

 

 

 

UNC Jubilee Performers: A List

Cover to the 1965 Carolina Jubilee pamphlet. From the Records of the Student Union.

From 1963 to 1971, the end of UNC-Chapel Hill’s spring semester was marked by Jubilee, a festival that lasted for three days.  Though it began as a small and fairly restrained affair on the lawn of Graham Memorial,  it expanded to bigger and more raucous events that took place in larger venues such as Polk Place and Kenan Stadium. Each year would feature an abundance of performers, and a list of those performers can be found below.

1963: The Four Preps; The Chad Mitchell Trio; The Jades; The Migrants; The Duke Ambassadors; The Harlequins; Iain Hamilton

1964: The Four Freshmen; Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs; The Serendipity Singers; Charlie Byrd; The Sinfonians;

1965: Johnny Cash; June Carter; Statler Brothers Quartet; The Tennessee Three; The Four Preps; The Platters with the Sinfonians; The Modern Folk Quartet

1966: Jay and the Americans; The Bitter End Singers; Warm Brows and Cool Tones; David della Rossa and Brooks; Charlie Byrd; Al Hirt

1967: The Temptations; Jim Kweskin Jug Band; Petula Clark; The Association; The Fabulous Five Combo; The Dynamics Combo

1968: Carla Thomas; Rufus Thomas; The New Bar Kays; Neil Diamond; Junior Walker and the All-Stars; Spanky and Our Gang; Nancy Wilson; Soul, Limited

1969: Chambers Brothers; Babe Stovall; Red Parham; Elizabeth Cotton; Alice and Hazel; Bill McElreath; Rev. Pearly Brown; Paul Butterfield Blues Band

1970: Sweetwater; James Taylor; Pacific Gas and Electric; Joe Cocker and the Grease Band; B.B. King; Grand Funk Railroad; Baby Boy Glover Resurrected; New Deal String Band

1971: Chuck Berry; Spirit; Cowboy; Muddy Waters; J. Geils; Brushy Mountain Boys; Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band; Allman Brothers; Alex Taylor; Tom Rush

Read more about Jubilee here.

References:

Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1931-2013 (#40128)

Jock Lauterer Photographic Collection, circa 1964-1968 (#P0069)

Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham

“If you build it, they will come,” intones a mysterious voice at the beginning of Field of Dreams, the classic 1989 baseball movie. If you like baseball, you like Field of Dreams—that is an unavoidable fact of life. If you don’t like baseball, you also like Field of Dreams. There is no group that dislikes Field of Dreams; there are only those who have seen it and those who haven’t. The film’s high concept is flawless, after all: “what if baseball ghosts loved the Midwest more than the afterlife?”

As deserved as it may be, this post isn’t meant simply to sing the praises of Kevin Costner: one particular aspect of the movie relates to UNC specifically and especially.

Field of Dreams features an elderly doctor and ex-baseball player for the New York Giants, “Moonlight” Graham (played by Burt Lancaster). This character wasn’t entirely fictional and was based on one Archibald Graham, older brother of Frank Porter Graham: UNC system president, UNC student union namesake, and U.S. senator. President Graham admired his elder sibling and wanted to pursue a career in baseball himself, but luckily for the UNC system it didn’t take off.

Image of the UNC baseball team from the 1900 yearbook. Moonlight is the player with crossed arms on the far right, below the suited figure.

“Moonlight” was born in Fayetteville in 1879, and was a skilled baseball player since childhood. He pursued that passion for the game during his time at UNC-Chapel Hill (Frank Porter Graham did too, but as the Carolina Alumni Review points out, “it was Archie who could hit”). He put off advancing as a doctor to enter the minor leagues, and some suspect that’s where his famous nickname came from: moonlighting as a ball player to pay his way to a doctorate.

In 1902 he finally earned a certificate of medicine from UNC and completed his degree in 1905, at the University of Maryland. In 1909 he left North Carolina for the small town of Chisholm in Minnesota, where he established himself as the local doctor. As he lived there he became a beloved father figure to the community, only rarely returning to NC.

Archie passed away in 1965, and the Chisholm Free Press honored him with a story:

He was the champion of the oppressed; the grand marshal of every football, basketball, and baseball game. He encouraged youth to train and play; he always carried that extra candy bar for the energy some lanky, hungry lad needed; he was the first one at the side of the boy who got hurt in any sport. Doc was just that kind of man.

Read more about Moonlight Graham here.

Sources and Recommended Reading:

Carolina Alumni Review: September/October 2005

Chasing Moonlight : The True Story of Field of Dreams’ Doc Graham

The Hellennian (1900)

New Collection: Carolina Performing Arts

In 1931, a Spanish dance performed by Carola Goya was the first University Entertainment Series performance to grace the stage of Memorial Hall. It was the beginning of a robust history of commissioned and curated performing arts at UNC. From 1931 to 2002, the job of programming those performances was in the hands of the Carolina Union.

Over time, there were several complaints about the sound quality and comfort level of Memorial Hall. One audience member wrote that she attended a show featuring a renowned musician who couldn’t even play his instrument properly. His fingers were too sweaty from the humidity in the room! Since 1931, Memorial Hall has undergone several changes and in 2005, after a three-year hiatus, the theater reopened.

Plans for the updated venue accompanied plans for a new performance presenting organization that would be called Carolina Performing Arts. In the newly minted position of  Executive Director of the Arts, Emil Kang led the new organization into its 2005 inaugural season. Itzhak Perlman, Ronald K. Brown and Tony Bennett and the North Carolina Symphony were a few of the artists featured in CPA’s first year.

Plans and correspondence about the transformation of Memorial Hall and CPA’s inaugural season as well as ephemera from several Carolina Union performances are now available in the Carolina Performing Arts Records (#40428).

Items from the Carolina Performing Arts Records (#40428), University Archives

 

Pete Seeger at UNC Chapel Hill, December 1962

Pete Seeger, a young white man in a button up shirt and tie, plays the banjo before a microphone.
Folk singer Pete Seeger in Memorial Hall. From the Daily Tar Heel, 6 December 1962.

When folk singer Pete Seeger came to campus on this day in 1962, his visit was preceded by weeks of controversy.

In November, the Daily Tar Heel first reported that Seeger was scheduled to perform a concert in Memorial Hall sponsored by UNC’s New Left Club.  It would be one of many concerts Seeger performed across the South to raise funds for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – his only in North Carolina.

Founded in 1960, SNCC was a vital civil rights organization that used community organizing and direct action to combat voter suppression, segregation, and racial violence. (Learn more about SNCC at the SNCC Digital Gateway.) The organization was involved in many of the most iconic events of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s – including the Freedom Rides, Mississippi Freedom Summer, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery Marches.

The New Left Club, which sponsored the show, was an active but short-lived student organization of the early 1960s dedicated to the study and discussion of leftist politics and labor issues, often inviting speakers to lead discussion on topics of interest.

Seeger himself was the target of some of the controversy – he had been subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about his political beliefs and affiliations with communist organizations. (The conviction was overturned on appeal.) Amid the era’s panic over communism on university campuses, some considered him a dangerous leftist influence. However, it was not Seeger’s first time in Memorial Hall – he had performed a Carolina Union-sponsored show there just three years prior, without any controversy. It seems the New Left Club’s sponsorship of the concert, the proceeds going to SNCC, and the escalation of fears over communism at universities converged to draw the ire of opponents on campus and beyond. Alum Spencer Everett (class of 1960) wrote in a letter to the Daily Tar Heel:

I hope that students, who might be tempted to view the appearance of Pete Seeger as a harmless affair, worth the price of admission, will consider the left-wing, un-American causes to which the admission proceeds will be applied. With this in mind, I am sure that on December 5 the entertainment will be better and the air a good bit fresher anywhere but in the company of Mr. Seeger and the New Left. (Daily Tar Heel, 11/18/1962)

The day of the show, the Daily Tar Heel published an editorial in support of the performance. The author wrote:

Of what party or cell or country club or lodge or whatever, Pete Seeger is a member will have little relevance to his performance tonight. As students, more than any other section of the citizenry, we should not be confused by false arguments and spurious logic. What you will hear is the folk songs of the nation’s leading folk writer and composer – there will be no cell meeting, no band of conspirators taking oaths in sheep’s blood.

The overwhelmingly logical path is not to be frightened away from the Seeger concert by the muddled words of those who are afraid of men who sing songs praising peace and scorning war….not be frightened by the words of those who shudder at the thought of a “hammer of justice.” The logical path leads to Memorial Hall to see and hear the controversial Mr. Seeger, and decide for yourself. (Daily Tar Heel, 12/05/1962).

Several white young men in suits carrying signs, some with indiscernible text. Two signs read "New Left: Silent Sponsor" and "Don't give your $$$ to the New Left."
From the Daily Tar Heel, 19 December 1962.
A young white man in a suit and tie holds two signs, one reading "Save your dollars for democracy" and another reading "Seeger's hammer" with a drawing of a hammer and sickle dripping blood.
From the Daily Tar Heel, 6 December 1962.

That night, Seeger performed before a crowd of over 1,000, while 10 picketers marched outside Memorial Hall bearing signs with messages like “Give your money to Easter Seals, and not to SNCC,” “Watch from outside the windows,” “Do not go to this red-inspired concert,” and “Don’t support the silent sponsor.” Some of the protesters were from the conservative group Young Americans for Freedom, while others marched independently.  A crowd of 30-40 students watched the protest. (Daily Tar Heel, 12/06/1962)

One protester reflected in the Daily Tar Heel (12/16/1962) that their purpose was to “make sure that people were well-informed about his sponsor (the New Left), his record (many Communist-front affiliations) and the probable destination of their money (a freedom rider’s pocket).” He reported that “the people did not turn away in droves but enough did to give us some satisfaction.”

Jesse Helms, then an executive and commentator for Capitol Broadcasting Company (later North Carolina senator) lashed out in his nightly Viewpoint segment on WRAL-TV later that week:

The University campus has welcomed this Fall just about every conceivable type of extreme leftwinger. One night last week there was a folk-singer whose loyalty to his country has been at serious question…The folk-singer, a fellow named Pete Seeger, is not reported as having dispensed any of his political philosophy, and therefore we presume that he was invited merely for the purpose of adding to the University’s cultural life. It was mere coincidence, the academic freedom set will assure you, that Seeger’s appearance on the University campus was sponsored by the so-called “New Left Club.” Still, let’s tell it all: Seeger has been clearly identified as a known Communist; he refused to answer questions regarding his affiliation with the Communist Party; he has marched in Communist May Day parades; he was described in the 1961 report of the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee as ‘….without question, the best-known of the Communist Party’s entertainers.

The controversy on and off campus did little to dampen the spirit of Seeger or the audience. The Daily Tar Heel reported the day after the concert that “Seeger performed a program of old and contemporary folk songs that include several songs that have arisen from the desegregation movement. The greatest audience participation of the evening came on one of these, “We Shall Overcome,” theme song of CORE [Congress of Racial Equality].” (12/06/1962)

 

Sources and Further Reading

The Daily Tar Heel (dates cited in text), accessed via DigitalNC

Viewpoint, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library

Mike Seeger Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library

Ronald D. Cohen Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library

Guy and Candie Carawan Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library

Highlander Research and Education Center Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library

New Collection: Fred Brooks Papers

Fred Brooks at the dedication of the Brooks Computer Science Building in 2008.
Fred Brooks at the dedication of the Brooks Computer Science Building in 2008. Photo by UNC News Services.

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new collection: the Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. Papers. This collection documents the work of Fred Brooks, the pioneer computer scientist and founder of UNC’s Department of Computer Science. The UNC Computer Science building, dedicated in 2008, is named for Brooks.

The collection includes materials about the Department of Computer Science, the development of the Triangle Universities Computing Center (an early collaboration between Duke and UNC), and records of Brooks’s research and writing, including the manuscript of his influential book The Mythical Man-Month.

The Brooks Papers are open and available for research in Wilson Library.

Image source: News Services of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#40139). Digital Folder DF-40139/0382, https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/record/uuid:a80564ce-18dc-487b-ad64-3519cc0879ae