First Women’s Athletic Scholarship: Camey Timberlake

Over the past several decades, UNC woman’s athletics teams have had an incredible run of success, winning multiple NCAA championships in five different sports. However, it was just 50 years ago this month that UNC offered its first athletic scholarship to a woman athlete.

During the 1974-1975 season, women’s tennis coach and newly appointed Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, Frances Hogan, drafted a note for her team about the evolving standards for women’s sports at UNC. In the memo found in a folder for the 1974-1975 Tennis season, she wrote: 

Up until 1971, the philosophy of teams, or clubs as they were called, was to provide opportunities for a sociable, competitive experience… Women coaches have been oriented that way. We can no longer, as coaches, maintain this philosophy. We are now in athletics. A great amount will be budgeted for our women’s program from the athletic department next year. Coaches will have to look for the best players. . . . Recruiting is legal. Demands on the coaches will be greater. They must produce good teams to justify the money going in to the program.

This change from clubs to teams largely began with the passing of Title IX in 1972. Like most large scale social and political changes, the actual implementation comes in stages and looks different in different contexts. There were many local factors that impacted how things would change at UNC. One impactful moment came in 1974 when the first UNC women’s athletics scholarship was awarded. At the time, the scholarship was called a grant-in-aid. That awardee, Camey Timberlake, was a talented high school tennis player who would join the UNC squad in fall 1974.  

Screenshot of a Daily Tar Heel photograph of Camey Timberlake playing tennis.
Photograph from November 8, 1975 issue of the Daily Tar Heel.

As Hogan’s note to the 1974-1975 team highlights so well, the pressure on UNC women’s athletic teams to show up for this moment was real. And the pressure on Camey Timberlake was not wholly different. It was time to perform to win and keep the momentum for women’s athletics. 

Timberlake’s tenure at UNC included highs like beating Duke’s star player as a first year and lows like injuries that sidelined her more than once over the years. Disappointments are part of sports and those that play at the highest levels know that better than most. In an interview with the Daily Tar Heel in April 1978, she gave voice to the pressures she felt during her seasons with Carolina noting, “I had decided I wasn’t going to let the pressure bother me, but subconsciously, it was there, and there wasn’t much I could do about it.” While Timberlake’s playing experience at UNC may not have been as she had hoped, she emphasized the positive impact her fellow teammates had on her experience. Timberlake was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Screenshot of the Daily Tar Heel showing article about UNC tennis team beating Duke. Image show Timberlake playing tennis.
Image of the November 1, 1974 issue of the Daily Tar Heel.
Image of the 1977-78 team brochure for tennis
1977-78 season team brochure. This was Timberlake’s senior season.

On the other end of this pivotal moment, UNC continued to reshape the role of women’s athletics at the university in line with Title IX. Ahead of final Title IX regulations for athletics to be released in 1975 and requiring implementation by 1978, Chancellor Ferebee Taylor took proactive steps in 1974 to set the stage for change. The women’s athletic programs were moved into the Department of Athletics and Coach Hogan’s new role, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, was created. Chancellor Taylor also charged a new committee focused on equal opportunity for women at UNC called the Title IX Committee and Subcommittee on Athletics. (Jackson, p. 92; 134- 137). Building on the first women’s athletics scholarship, the second scholarship recipient, Ann Marshall, became a member of the UNC swim team beginning in 1975. Marshall made the 1972 Summer Olympics team as a teenager and was named an All-American 18 times while at Carolina. 

The path to women’s athletics at UNC was certainly not without challenges and some resistance. And to this day, all issues of equity and opportunity in women’s sports generally are far from settled. However, it’s still inspiring to consider these beginnings at UNC and see the line that can be drawn to all that has come after. We can celebrate the place that these early scholarship awardees made for so many other talented Tar Heels like Mia Hamm, Charlotte Smith, Shalane Flanagan, Ivory Latta, Erin Matson and countless others as well as opportunities for coaches like Karen Shelton to build programs of the highest quality to cheer for.  

Images of documents from the Department of Athletics records:


  • For a more complete picture of the years long development of women’s athletics at UNC and Title IX context, check out this dissertation by Victoria Jackson. 
  • You can peruse old issues of the Daily Tar Heel here for lots of sports stories and highlights: 
  • Swimming: 1975-1976 season: General, Box 27, in the Department of Athletics of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40093, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  • Tennis: 1974-1975 season: General, Box 28, in the Department of Athletics of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40093, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  • Tennis: 1974-1975 season: Camey Timberlake, Box 28, in the Department of Athletics of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40093, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Now Available Online: Photos from 1963 Chapel Hill Civil Rights Marches

Sixty years ago, local high school students and community members led a series of marches and demonstrations in downtown Chapel Hill in protest of racial segregation in local businesses. The Wilson Library digital production staff has recently completed digitization of five color photos showing Civil Rights marches on Franklin Street in 1963.

These photos were taken by UNC faculty member Don Irish. Learn more about Irish and the photos in this blog post from his daughter, Sharon Irish: Walking Down a Black-and-White Road | Sharon Irish (

To learn more about the Civil Rights movement in Chapel Hill, this website from the Chapel Hill Community History Project is a terrific starting place: Civil Rights | Chapel Hill Community History (

Chapel Hill civil rights march, 1963. Photo by Don Irish.Chapel Hill civil rights march, 1963. Photo by Don Irish.Chapel Hill civil rights march, 1963. Photo by Don Irish.Chapel Hill civil rights march, 1963. Photo by Don Irish.Chapel Hill civil rights march, 1963. Photo by Don Irish.


Segregated Spaces at the UNC School of Dentistry, 1953

Signpost showing two signs with arrows: "Patient Information White" and "Patient Information Colored"
Detail from a photo of the UNC School of Dentistry, ca. 1950s, showing directions to the segregated information counters. UNC Photo Lab Collection (P0031).

The University of North Carolina enforced racial segregation in campus buildings well into the mid 20th century. There is clear evidence of this in documents, publications, and in the recollections of people who studied and worked at Carolina. However, photographs of segregated spaces at UNC are often hard to find. Recently we found a couple of photos from the UNC Photo Lab collection that provide clear evidence of how public spaces on campus continued to be segregated by race into the 1950s.

Sign on a wall reading "Colored Waiting Room. 103 A thru F"
Detail from a photo of the UNC School of Dentistry, ca. 1950s, showing a sign for the “Colored Waiting Room.” UNC Photo Lab Collection (P0031)

These photos are from a series taken by university photographers to publicize the opening of the new dental school building at Carolina. The new dental building (now known as “First Dental”) was a significant milestone in dental education and service at Carolina — in addition to teaching and learning facilities, the new building marked the beginning of patient services offered by the School of Dentistry. Dentistry faculty and students offered clinical services to patients from the local community and across North Carolina. A memo about the opening of the new building states: “There are separate, complete facilities for white and for Negro patients.” (Records of UNC President Gordon Gray, collection 4008, folder 383). The description of separate facilities was repeated in a Daily Tar Heel story about the dental building in December 1952.

The note about facilities for Black patients was intentional. The University clearly wanted to highlight the fact that it would be offering dental services to Black patients who might otherwise rightly have assumed that they would not be admitted to medical facilities at Carolina. However, the announcement was also clear to specify that the spaces would be segregated by race.

The publicity photos also included two showing patients in the separate waiting rooms. It’s hard to tell whether or not these photos represent typical conditions in the waiting rooms, but the differences are striking. The waiting room for white patients is spacious and shows just two people waiting. The waiting room for Black patients is significantly more crowded, with every seat full and one of the patients having to stand.

Waiting room at the UNC School of Dentistry, ca. 1950s. Image shows two white women sitting on couches, one reading a magazine, the other holding a teacup.
Waiting room at the UNC School of Dentistry, ca. 1950s. This appears to the waiting room for white patients.
Waiting room at the UNC School of Dentistry. The room is full, with Black patients filling every seat and one woman standing.
Waiting room at the UNC School of Dentistry, ca. 1950s. This appears to be the separate waiting room for Black patients.

It is noteworthy that the University established segregated patient spaces in 1952, just over a year after UNC was forced to begin admitting Black students to graduate programs. In the summer of 1951, Black students entered Carolina for the first time, enrolling in the School of Law, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Medicine, which was adjacent to the new dental building.

It’s not clear, at least from our initial research, how long the facility continued to operate separate waiting rooms for Black and white patients. When local high school students began challenging segregated businesses in Chapel Hill in February 1960, the protests soon spread to UNC buildings. In April 1963, the UNC chapter of the NAACP picketed North Carolina Memorial Hospital in protest of continued racial segregation of some hospital patients. Most likely racial segregation in the hospital and dental facilities continued in some form until the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1964.

1980s UNC Students Protest CIA Recruitment on Campus

In the 1980s, UNC-Chapel Hill students organized to protest on-campus recruiting by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Citing the CIA’s involvement in conflicts in Central America and the Middle East and drawing attention to the agency’s increased role under President Ronald Regan, student protesters objected to the presence of CIA recruiters on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Carolina students led anti-CIA protests as early as 1983, and the movement gained significant momentum when the student-run CIA Action Committee (CIAAC) led several protests between 1987 and 1989. The photos shown in this post are from the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection in Wilson Library.

Timeline of Anti-CIA Protests at UNC-Chapel Hill

October 29 1987: Six members of the CIAAC were arrested during a protest in Hanes Hall. Graham Entwistle, Keith Griffler, Dale McKinley, Joey Templeton, Mary Lisa Pories, and Katherine Taaffe (the only non-student) chained themselves together in order to block the entrance to Hanes Hall where CIA interviews were being held. These activists were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, but the judge in the case did not pursue criminal charges against any of the members. Daily Tar Heel, October 30, 1987.

Students protest in a building lobby. Two students are playing acoustic guitars, others are holding signs. The legible signs say "Criminals In Action" and "Peace with Justice for All."
Student protest in UNC-Chapel Hill Law School lobby, February 23, 1988. Photo by Jim Thornton, Durham Herald Co. Photo collection.

February 24, 1988: Members of the CIAAC went to the University Inn where a CIA recruiter was holding interviews and protested outside his door. The recruiter left Chapel Hill without conducting interviews after CIAAC members followed him down Interstate 40 making sure he did not enter campus. Daily Tar Heel, July 14, 1988.

Photo of a student holding a poster reading "6 Million Dead 1947-1988 / CIA Off Campus" while a man places materials in the trunk of a car.
CIA recruiter Page Moffett prepares to leave Chapel Hill after being confronted by protesters on and off campus. Photo by Jim Thornton, February 24, 1988. Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection in Wilson Library.

April 15, 1988: CIAAC protesters lay on the floor of the Career Planning and Placement Services work area in Hanes Hall. During the protest, CIAAC members sang protest songs and held hands. After refusing to leave the area, eight students were carried out of the building and arrested for trespassing. During this event, senior Graham Entwistle, junior Lisa House, junior Jerry Jones, junior Kasey Jones, graduate student Dale McKinley, evening college student Steve Sullivan, sophomore Joey Templeton, and senior Amy Thompson were arrested. This protest was intentionally held at the Career Planning office due to the office’s role in connecting CIA members with UNC students to discuss possible careers. Daily Tar Heel, April 18, 1988.

October 28, 1988: Members of another activist group, the Chapel Hill Coalition for the Freedom to Dissent (CFD), confronted the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees regarding their choice to stay silent regarding the case of Dale McKinley (his arrest and jail sentence). During this meeting, Ken Sandler, a graduate student and CFD member, read a letter condemning the Board of Trustees and their alleged attempts to stifle freedom of expression on campus. At this time, McKinley was serving a 21-day sentence in Orange County Jail for his actions on campus. Daily Tar Heel, October 31, 1988.

November 2, 1988: Following a rally in the Pit, around 20 students took part in another demonstration outside Hanes Hall, staging what they called the “CIA Café.” Students acting as waiters carried plates containing plastic limbs and other symbols of violence to illustrate their accusations against the CIA. As people walked by, the waiters offered the plates, asking, “Did you order the CIA atrocities?” Daily Tar Heel, November 3, 1988.

November 6, 1989: The CIAAC created a “symbolic graveyard” on Polk Place in front of South Building. This was accompanied by a mock funeral procession. The protesters carried their symbolic coffins inside the building and left them at Chancellor Paul Hardin’s desk. Hardin was not present for the protest. Daily Tar Heel, November 7, 1989.

A student hammering a wooden cross in a grassy area of campus.
UNC student Graham Entwistle placing crosses in front of South Building as part of a protest against CIA recruiting on campus, November 6, 1989. Photo by Dan Charlson, Durham Herald Co. Photo Collection.
Students march to Hanes Hall holding a sign stating, "Non-Disruptive Peaceful Protest"
Students march to Hanes Hall to protest CIA presence on campus, November 1988. Photo by Chuck Liddy, Durham Herald-Sun photo collection.
Ten students hold posters against the CIA's presence on campus in front of Hanes Hall
Student protest at Hanes Hall, November 1988. Photo by Chuck Liddy, Durham Herald-Sun photo collection.

Doris Betts on Traffic and Campus Parking, 1967

Doris Betts in her office near a sign that reads "Reserved Parking for Doris Betts"
Doris Betts in her UNC office, 1992, with a sign that may have been inspired by her 1967 letter about campus parking. [News Services Records, 40139]
Although the UNC campus has changed and grown significantly over the past half century, one thing has remained exactly the same: it can be tough to find a place to park. Students, visitors, and employees all know the struggle of searching campus lots for open spots or else paying for a space that is often nowhere near your final destination.

In the University Archives, folders labeled “Traffic” or “Parking” are common in administrative collections, usually filled with letters complaining about campus parking challenges. We found one of these folders, labeled “Parking, 1967” in the records of Chancellor J. Carlyle Sitterson. One of the letters it contained seemed similar to so many others, until we noticed the name of the writer: Doris Betts, the acclaimed novelist and longtime UNC faculty member in the Department of English.

In September 1967, after receiving a $1 parking ticket for failing to display her parking sticker, Betts wrote to the Chapel Hill Police Department, with a copy of her letter to Chancellor Sitterson. “Having paid the dollar,” she wrote, “I now feel entitled to complain.”

In what is easily the most literary parking complaint we’ve ever read, Betts addressed the absurdity of receiving a ticket while parking in order to pick up her faculty parking permit. Betts compares the campus parking regulations to scenes from Alice in Wonderland, with the police department in the “position of the gardeners in Wonderland who—discovering that they had planted a white rose bush in the spot the queen has ordered a red one—were busily coating the blooms with red paint.”

Betts also raises an important point that is likely even more relevant today: the burden of long commutes and parking challenges falls largely on those students and staff who cannot afford to live near campus. The full letter, transcribed below, is worth reading in its entirety.

September 28, 1967 

Chapel Hill Police Department
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 


 I enclose my fine of $1.00 for the parking ticket issued yesterday by Officer 3 for my car . . . parked in a faculty zone while I was teaching classes but not yet marked with the new permit sticker. Having paid the dollar, I now feel entitled to complain.  

I commute to teach classes in the University English Department, and since I am not on-campus between Wednesday and Monday, there is an inevitable time-lag in the receipt of red-tape requests and the compliance with red-tape requests. I have paid my parking permit fee for the new sticker, to replace last year’s F. sticker for which Officer #3 must have noted on the bumper, but in order to go to the department and obtain this sticker on my next teaching day, it was necessary—oddly enough—to leave the car in a parking space. I was so enchanted to find one in time, for a change, to be in the office at the time set for student conferences, that I scooted right in and parked in it without considering this hazard of time-lag. The sticker will be on the bumper next time your officers pass my car. Whether it will be PARKED anywhere is, of course, a very different and more complex question.  

 On my first day of classes, having driven over from Sanford, I then put nearly and equal amount of mileage on the car by motoring up and down the lanes and lots of the U.N.C. campus in search of some place to be rid of the thing. When I finally did park and hike some distance to my department office, I encountered both my department chairman and the provost, who responded to my grumbling by saying all would be different as soon as I paid the new fee and obtained the new parking permit.  

 Now, however, time lags and all, this begins to sound more and more like Alice in Wonderland, like the Queen of Hearts passing sentence first and having a verdict second. I am not clear why a permit and a sticker ten feet high will manufacture a space where no space existed without said permit. In actuality, I have paid $5 for the privilege of driving around just as much and just as often and an extra dollar for the privilege of meeting the student conference on time and being delayed in picking up the sticker. While some students and lithe young faculty members, residing in Chapel Hill, may be able to reach classes on-foot, on-Honda, and on-Schwinn, those of us who commute must come in automobiles of necessity. I assure you, that if you drove on highway 15-501, behind school buses and brick trucks, behind trucks which showered your windshield with sand and poultry feathers, and cars full of nice old ladies who straddle the center-line in the interests of moderation and safety, sniffing your own burning gasoline in the air of Lee, Chatham, and Orange Counties—and THEN arrived, minus the cost of a permit and the cost of a traffic ticket unable to find a plain legal rectangle within reasonable distance of your duties, you’d be in a cross mood, too.  

 Gentlemen, the situation is not your fault; Officer 3 is doing his duty in abiding by understandable campus rules; I submit the fee fully understanding the justice of it. But the purpose of the letter, with its carbon to Dean Sitterson, is to relieve my feelings and find a more suitable outlet for them than Muttering Under One’s Own Breath.  

 I call your attention to the editorial in today’s Greensboro Daily News, which seems to be based on such common sense that it comes like the voice of Alice into the Queen’s croquet game and trial.  

 By the way, the student conference I met yesterday was also delayed. The student came out to his own car to find that HIS sticker had been neatly peeled off his bumper—either that, or the glue proved unreliable. He had been by to collect, he though a duplicate sticker, since he had paid a $10 registration fee and will actually be graduating in January. He was told that, for the coming 3½ months, he must buy a second sticker, at an additional $10. They are trying to discourage black market track in stickers, he said. The two of us had a difficult time getting off this subject and onto the purpose of our meeting, which had to do with literature and the rhetoric of fiction. Had I known that at that very time Ticket Number 40457 was even then nestling under my windshield wiper, I doubt we would have managed to deal with the short story form at all.  

Gentlemen, you are in the position of the gardeners in Wonderland who—discovering that they had planted a white rose bush in the spot the queen has ordered a red one—were busily coating the blooms with red paint. As such, you have our sympathy. It is not much help to you, any more than my complaining is much help, but I hope it makes you feel better. I do.  

 Sincerely yours, 

Doris Betts
(Mrs. Lowry M. Betts)

UNC Spring Commencement Speakers: A Historic List

The spring commencement ceremony has been a time for reflection and celebration since UNC’s first commencement in 1798. Commencement has traditionally included a featured speaker who provides insight and advice for the graduating students. These speakers have often included prominent people well known through their work in politics, arts, business, journalism, and public service. This list includes UNC-Chapel Hill’s featured spring commencement speakers from 1951-2024.

Year Speaker Role and Affiliation
2024 Zena Cardman NASA
2023 Bryan Stevenson Equal Justice Initiative
2022 Frank Bruni New York Times
2021 Anthony Fauci and Kizzmekia Corbett (delivered virtually) Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Fauci), research fellow and scientific lead for the Coronaviruses Vaccines and Immunopathologies Team at the National Institutes of Health (Corbett)
2020 Roy Williams (delayed until October 2020) UNC Men’s Basketball Coach
2019 Jonathan Reckford CEO, Habitat for Humanity
2018 Rye Barcott Author, founder Carolina for Kibera
2017 Brooke Baldwin CNN Correspondent
2016 Anne-Marie Slaughter Foreign policy analyst
2015 Jason Kilar Former CEO, Hulu
2014 Atul Gawande Author, Surgeon
2013 Steve Case Co-founder, AOL
2012 Mike Bloomberg Mayor of New York City
2011 E.O. Wilson Author, Biodiversity scholar
2010 John Grisham Author
2009 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Anglican archbishop, Activist
2008 Jessye Norman Opera singer
2007 Madeleine Albright Former U.S. Secretary of State
2006 Wendy Kopp Founder, Teach for America
2005 Rev. Peter Gomes Theologian, Harvard University Divinity School
2004 Julius Chambers Attorney and Civil Rights activist
2003 Bill Cosby Actor, comedian
2002 John Edwards U.S. Senator, North Carolina
2001 Stuart Scott ESPN Anchor
2000 Stuart E. Eisenstat Deputy Secretary, U.S. Treasury
1999 Bill Bradley Former basketball player, U.S. Senator
1998 Marian Wright Edelman Children’s Defense Fund
1997 Erskine B. Bowles White House Chief of Staff
1996 Seamus Heaney Poet, Nobel Laureate
1995 Johnnetta B. Cole President, Spelman College
1994 Francis Collins Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
1993 Ted Turner Broadcaster
1992 David Brinkley News anchor
1991 Lawrence Douglas Wilder Governor of Virginia
1990 Hugh L. McColl Bank of America
1989 Roger H. Mudd News anchor
1988 Dale Bumpers U.S. Senator, Arkansas
1987 Peter V. Ueberroth Commissioner, Major League Baseball
1986 James G. Martin Governor of North Carolina
1985 Charles Kuralt  CBS News reporter
1984 William Leuchtenburg UNC Professor of History
1983 Jim Leutze UNC Professor, Curriculum of Peace, War, and Defense
1982 Martha Nell Hardy UNC Professor, Department of Communications
1981 J. Carlyle Sitterson Former UNC Chancellor
1980 Doris Betts UNC Professor, Creative Writing
1979 Richard J. Richardson UNC Professor, Political Science
1978 Jim Hunt Governor of North Carolina
1977 Edward Bernstein President of EMB Research Economists
1976 J.W. Fulbright Former U.S. Senator, Missouri
1975 John Caldwell Chancellor, N.C. State University
1974 James Holshouser, Jr. Governor of North Carolina
1973 Juanita Kreps Professor of Economics, Duke University
1972 Elizabeth Koontz Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
1971 J. Carlyle Sitterson UNC Chancellor
1970 Clifton Daniels New York Times
1969 James A. Shannon Former director, National Institutes of Health
1968 Alexander Heard Chancellor, Vanderbilt University
1967 Gordon Blackwell President, Furman University
1966 Frank Porter Graham Former President, UNC
1965 Douglas M. Knight President, Duke University
1964 Terry Sanford Governor, North Carolina
1963 August Heckscher President’s Special Assistant on the Arts
1962 Ralph McGill Publisher, Atlanta Journal Constitution
1961 Lenoir Chambers Newspaper editor
1960 Luther Hodges Governor of North Carolina
1959 Vermont C. Royster Newspaper editor
1958 Norman Cousins Editor, Saturday Review of Literature
1957 Robert B. House Chancellor, UNC
1956 Barnaby C. Keeney President, Brown University
1955 Carl Sandburg Author
1954 Andrew J. Warren Rockefeller Foundation
1953 Francis P. Gaines President, Washington & Lee University
1952 Gordon Gray President, Consolidated University of North Carolina
1951 William Clyde DeVane Yale University

Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC: A Timeline

This timeline highlights some of the key people and events in the development and growth of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. The historic records of the department have been recently transferred to the University Archives and are now available for research.

March 1970: The student group Female Liberation issues a list of demands, one of which calls for “inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum.” [Source: Records of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 1920-2004, University Archives. Box 35: Female Liberation, 1969-1974 Demands.]

9. inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum and inclusion and re-evaluation of women in the subject matter of existing courses; Women are either patronized or ignored in courses, or their role is defined as erotic, troublesome and/or neurotic. It is certainly no accident that women students learn that all accomplishment and honor is male.
Excerpt from the Female Liberation demands, 1970, calling for women’s studies classes.

February 1973: The University Women for Affirmative Action organizes with the goal of ending discrimination based on gender at UNC. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

November 1974: Joan Scott, a faculty member in the Department of History, asks the Faculty Council to investigate the possibility of establishing a Women’s Studies program. At the Council’s request, Chancellor Nelson Ferebee Taylor appoints a committee to explore the idea. [Source: Interview with Mary Turner Lane, 1986-1987. Southern Oral History Program Interviews, Southern Historical Collection]

April 1975: The Chancellor’s committee to explore the creation of a Women’s Studies program unanimously recommends the creation of such a program. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

Article headline: Women's Studies. Renovating the Ivory Towers.
Excerpt from an article about Women’s Studies programs from the Nov/Dec 1975 issue of She.

July 1976: Professor Mary Turner Lane agrees to serve as the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program. Dr. Lane, a professor in the School of Education, began as an instructor in 1954. During her time at the UNC, Lane worked to end social limitations for female students. Lane also helped found the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals and served as a chair of the Committee on the Status of Women. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

Spring 1977: The Women’s Studies curriculum begins offering courses. Women’s Studies is offered as an area of concentration under the Interdisciplinary Studies major. [Sources:  Pamela Dean, Women On the Hill: A History of Women at the University of North Carolina; Daily Tar Heel, 10/22/1976]

Spring 1978: Women’s Studies 50 is established as a required introductory course. At this time, the Women’s Studies Program consists of about 25 courses. [Source: She, September 1977]

1979: The program graduates its first major, Sandra Jo Martin. Martin was the editor of She and an intern with the Council on the Status of Women. [Source: Pamela Dean, Women On the Hill: A History of Women at the University of North Carolina]

1982: The Duke-UNC Center for Research on Women is established to promote Women’s Studies scholarship, research, and curriculum development in the South. [Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1917-2002, University Archives. Series 2: Academic Programs, Subseries 2: General. Women’s Studies, Curriculum in: General, 1995-1997]

February 1988: The UNC Faculty Council approves a proposal to make the Women’s Studies Program an independent curriculum offering a bachelor’s degree. The change was not approved by the UNC System. [Source: Daily Tar Heel, 2/25/1988; Daily Tar Heel, 4/1/1992]

1988: The Women’s Studies program offers a certificate in Women’s Studies. Many students used this certificate similarly to a minor in other fields in order to include Women’s Studies on their transcript without majoring in the program. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, University Archives.  Folder: Annual Report 1990-91]

1989-1990: Graduate students at UNC organize the conference “Women’s Studies in the Triangle.” [Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, University Archives. Folder: Annual Report 1989-90] 

31 July 1992: The UNC System Board of Governors approved the independent Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies as a full-fledged curriculum (a B.A. degree in Women’s Studies). Students could now major in Women’s Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Annual Report 1992-93] 

1993: The Women in Science program, housed in the Women’s Studies office, was established. The program contemplated issues leading to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the sciences. The program hosted seminars and discussions on a range of topics such as the daily lived experience of women in science and challenges faced by women in the sciences. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Annual Report 1994-95] 

1994: A graduate minor in Women’s Studies established.  [Source: Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1917-2002, University Archives. Series 2: Academic Programs, Subseries 2: General. Women’s Studies, Curriculum in: General, 1992-1994]

March 1996: During the 1996-97 school year, The Women’s Studies department celebrates its 20th anniversary. Part of this celebration includes a keynote address by Professor Joan Scott on “Gender and the Politics of Higher Education.” [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008]

2004: The Women’s Studies program begins offering a minor in Sexuality Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Sexuality Studies Minor]

July 2012: The Department of Women’s Studies becomes the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008]




The Myth of the Wilson Library Dunce Cap

VIew of Polk Place on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.
This mid 20th century photo shows the dunce cap effect of the Bell Tower on Wilson Library when viewed from South Building. UNC Image Collection, NC Collection Photo Archives.

Have you heard the story that the Bell Tower was intentionally placed right behind Wilson Library so that, when viewed from South Building, the top of the tower looks like a dunce cap on the round dome of the library?

The dunce cap story has been one of the enduring campus legends for decades. The story originally told was that John Motley Morehead, angered that Louis Round Wilson wouldn’t let him put the tower on top of the new library building, put it right behind to make fun of Wilson. I’ve heard a slightly different version on campus recently, which attributes it to an ongoing battle between two of the university’s “founding families,” the Moreheads and the Wilsons, making them seem like UNC’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys.

As with many campus legends, this one is not true, though some of the stories hint at what really happened.

The Bell Tower was the idea of John Motley Morehead, the Carolina alumnus and industrialist who donated the Morehead Planetarium and established the Morehead scholarships. According to Louis Round Wilson, Morehead’s first proposal was made during the renovation of South Building in the 1920s. Morehead, who had been interested in bringing a tower with chimes to the campus, suggested funding the construction of a tower on top of South Building under the condition that it be renamed the Morehead Building. The Trustees refused, and Morehead looked for other sites.

Morehead turned his attention to the new library building planned for the opposite end of Polk Place, and suggested a bell tower on top of it. This was indeed rejected by librarian Louis Round Wilson. Wilson spoke from his knowledge of bell towers on top of buildings at Cornell University and the University of Illinois. He wrote that, while pleasing to the campus in general, “the ringing of bells and chimes immediately above the reading rooms of the libraries in working hours played havoc with mental concentration and quiet study.”

Morehead had yet another idea: when the university announced a plan to move the large flagpole on campus from McCorkle Place to its current location in the center of Polk Place, Morehead suggested this as the perfect site for the bell tower. The flagpole could be placed on top.

Finally, by 1930, a location was settled. Though initially appearing to be at the very southern end of the campus, long-range plans to expand the university to the south would put the bell tower at the center of the campus, which is where it stands today. The Morehead-Patterson Memorial Bell Tower was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1931.

"Wilson Wears Dunce Cap" article, Daily Tar Heel, August 25, 1975
Daily Tar Heel, 25 August 1975.

It’s not clear when the dunce cap story began. The earliest published reference to it that I could find was in a 1975 Daily Tar Heel article. The author of the story, Dan Fesperman, had the advantage at the time of being able to go straight to one of the sources: 99-year-old Louis Round Wilson was still living in Chapel Hill. Wilson reviewed the debate over the placement of the tower and then addressed the legend directly. “When Wilson was asked if there was even a speck of truth in the Bell Tower legend, he said, ‘It wasn’t designed for that purpose at all.’ He then added, ‘But it does look that way – like a fool’s cap.”

Sources: “The Saga of the Morehead Patterson Bell Tower.” In Louis Round Wilson’s Historical Sketches. Durham: Moore Publishing Co., 1976.

Daily Tar Heel, 25 August 1975.

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.


[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.

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:


Bobo, M. (1973). Lana Starnes: the woman who helped bring ‘Elephants and Butterflies’ to UNC. The Daily Tar Heel  

Cummings, E. E. & Eaton, J. (1965). Fairy tales. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

OIRA. Fact Book: Bicentennial Edition, 1793-1993. 

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.  

Starnes, L . & Crist, T. (1971). Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel.

Starnes, L. (1971). College loans for abortion? The Daily Tar Heel 

Starnes, L. (1972). Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel.

Starnes L. & Crist, T. (1973) Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel.

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.