UNC Students Study Nike, 1998

Daily Tar Heel, 29 April 1998.

In the mid 1990s, Nike and other apparel companies drew criticism for labor practices in overseas factories they owned or used. UNC students and faculty were at the heart of the debate in the spring of 1998 when an entire class looked at Nike and its role in the global economy.

UNC began its relationship with Nike in 1993, when it signed its first agreement with the company to provide shoes and other athletic apparel for Carolina athletes and coaches. It was a new era for the basketball team in particular, which had worn Converse shoes since the 1960s.

When the University began negotiating a renewal of the contract a few years later, students began to bring up concerns about Nike’s labor practices. In the summer of 1997, student Marion Traub Warner started the Nike Awareness Campaign to educate other students about concerns over Nike’s labor practices. This was not just a UNC issue. Other universities with apparel deals with Nike, including Michigan, Ohio State, and the University of California, collaborated with an independent study of working conditions in factories used by Nike. In the fall of 1997, business students at Dartmouth released a study of pay rates at factories in Indonesia and Vietnam. Workers were found to be poorly paid and subject to dangerous environmental conditions.

Inspired by UNC student interest and an opportunity to study and learn from a current, global issue, UNC faculty members Richard Andrews, Nick Didow, and James Peacock offered a class in the Spring semester 1998 entitled “Economics, Ethics, and Impacts of the Global Economy: The Nike Example.”

The course drew national media attention, including a mention on ESPN. At the end of the semester, the faculty arranged for a staff member from Nike to be present for the students’ final presentations, which included recommendations for the company. They were all surprised when the company representative turned out to be Nike CEO Phil Knight. Nike took steps to address labor concerns in its factories and the University continued to renew its apparel contracts with Nike.

This topic and the class are covered at length in a new collection in the University Archives. The collection includes materials gathered and saved by Dr. Raymond (“Pete”) Andrews. It is a terrific resource for anyone interested in studying labor practices of apparel companies in the 1990s and the ways that college students at UNC and around the country helped to engage and possibly influence the practices of a major international corporation.

UNC faculty and students with Nike CEO Phil Knight (third from left), 1998. From the Richard Andrews Collection on The Nike Class, UNC University Archives.

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Test your UNC History Knowledge!

For the last two years, the University Archives has collaborated with Linda’s Bar and Grill on Franklin Street to host a round of UNC history-themed trivia during the first week of classes. How would you do? Test your knowledge with the questions below, then check out the answers here.

1. Eight of the buildings currently in use on the UNC campus were originally built before the Civil War. Can you name at least five? 

2. Only two U.S. Presidents have studied at Carolina. James K. Polk, who graduated in 1818, is the only UNC graduate to go on to become President. Who is the other future President who took classes at UNC? Hint: he spent one summer taking classes at the UNC School of Law in 1938. 

3. In the 1920s, students often complained about the noise coming from the basement of Caldwell Building. What was the source of the noise? 

  • Practices by the UNC Mandolin and Guitar Club 
  • Mysterious yells and chants from Order of the Gimghoul ceremonies 
  • Barking and howling from lab animals used in Medical School courses 
  • Loud hammering and clanking from the UNC blacksmith shop

4. In the early 1990s when basketball coach Dean Smith decided that the Tar Heels needed a new look, what local fashion designer did he turn to for help redesigning the team’s uniforms? 

5. Which well-known author is not a UNC alumnus? 

  • Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities 
  • Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series 
  • Sarah Dessen, author of Saint Anything and other popular young adult novels. 
  • Walker Percy, author of The Moviegoer and Lost in the Cosmos 

6. The design of the Old Well was modeled after a similar structure in what country? 

  • England 
  • France 
  • Italy 
  • Greece 

7. In 1965, UNC students were frustrated with the poor performance of the basketball team and blamed the young coach, Dean Smith. How did they express their dissatisfaction? 

  • They started a petition calling for Smith’s firing. 
  • They toilet-papered Smith’s house. 
  • They wrote letters to former coach Frank McGuire, urging him to come back to UNC. 
  • They hanged Smith in effigy. 

8. Captain Johnston Blakeley is believed to be the first UNC alumnus to be killed in military service. In what war was he killed? 

9. In 2006, UNC was the first predominantly-white university to name a building in honor of someone formerly enslaved on campus. Name the building and the man for whom it was named. 

10. Every October 12th, the University celebrates “University Day” in honor of an important event that happened on that day in 1793. What was it? 

11. Who was the first student to attend UNC?  

12. Which of UNC’s varsity athletic programs has the most NCAA championship wins? 

13. UNC has 5 buildings named after members of the same family. What is the family? 

14. What UNC sports team was, for a time, known as the “White Phantoms?” 

15. In the 1970s, the “High Noon Society” regularly met on Fridays at the Bell Tower. For what purpose? 

16. How many students were in UNC’s first graduating class? Hint: Not many. 

17. In 1951, the first four African American students were admitted to UNC. They were graduate students in what program? 

18. In 1935, UNC president Frank Porter Graham proposed a plan to reform intercollegiate athletics, which was met with immediate backlash. Which of the following was not part of the Graham Plan? 

  • Eliminated athletic scholarships 
  • Made first-year students ineligible to participate in varsity athletics 
  • Prohibited students from missing class for games 
  • Banned recruiting 

19. In 1852, UNC completed a building that would serve a dual purpose as a library and ballroom. It was later used as a performance venue. What is the name of that building now? 

20. According to a Daily Tar Heel report, “Carmichael auditorium oozed steamy sexuality” during this late musical artist’s 1983 performance. 

Check your answers here!

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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


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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.


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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.


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.


“‘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.

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Otelia Connor: UNC’s Guardian of Good Manners

Otelia Connor, from the Daily Tar Heel, 9 March 1963.

Otelia Connor, from the Daily Tar Heel, 9 March 1963.

Before there were Pit preachers, there was Mrs. Otelia Connor, an elderly Southern woman who patrolled the manners of Carolina students in the 1960s.  Instead of a Bible, she carried an umbrella to thwack those who ran afoul of her rules.  Though she reportedly only used the umbrella once, the threat of her wrath was enough to keep many in line—at least in her presence.  Connor was known as a campus gadfly, a character whose outsized personality kept her on the pages of The Daily Tar Heel.  Her mission and popularity led Time magazine to write a feature in which they coined the term “Oteliaquette” to describe her unique take on campus etiquette.  She later appeared on other media outlets, including The Mike Douglas Show and various radio programs.  Her moment in the national spotlight faded, though she continued to contribute to campus life until her death in 1969.

Otelia Cunningham Connor, a widow from an illustrious North Carolina family, originally came to Chapel Hill for her son’s graduation from law school in 1957.  She fell in love with Carolina, and promptly moved to a modest apartment near campus.  Though the mother of two grown children, Otelia adopted the entire student body as her children and set about improving their manners from her base in Lenoir Hall.  Her rules ranged from common demonstrations of respect—such as holding the door for older people—to specific prohibitions against everything from chewing gum to bumping the back of her chair.  In general, she advocated friendly and thoughtful behavior as hallmarks of a proper upbringing and education.  She wrote of her calling, “The world expects good manners of a college graduate.  When I correct the young people it is because I think too much of them to see them go out into the world without the rudiments of good manners . . . . Most young people appreciate someone taking the trouble to correct their thoughtlessness.” Otelia Connor, “Manners Minder,” DTH (11 April 1962, pg. 2)

Dean of Students Charles Henderson described Otelia as an “anthropological treasure . . . a throwback to those lost days when manners counted for something, and when elderly ladies thought it their duty to preserve them.”  Students were more divided on her mission and methods.  Some students appreciated her contributions, as Stanley Cameron wrote to the DTH, “She is truly a pearl.  Carolina would not be the same without her.  Only a mature, reserved, detached woman like herself could display such keen insight in the life of this university.” Stanley Cameron, “Wants More Otelia, Wellman,” DTH (15 February 1963, pg. 3).  Others were more dubious, “Otelia Connor writes such stinging comments on the social manners of our times that she has been suspected of being the pseudonym of a crotchety editor whose pen has an acute case of acid hemophilia.” Alan K. Whiteleather, “The Pen’s Poison, But Manners Are the Motive: ‘Otelia’—It’s No Pseudonym,” DTH (13 February 1963, pg. 1).  Indeed, DTH editors had to reassure incredulous students that Otelia was indeed “real” on multiple occasions.

As the self-appointed guardian of manners, Otelia was often viewed as a prude.  The 1963 April Fool’s issue of the DTH (March 31, 1963) featured Otelia as a member of an imaginary “Human Relations Committee” to enforce the administration’s abolishment of sex.  Indeed, Otelia argued against pre-marital sex during a Di-Phi debate.  Otelia was also positively scandalized by a dance called the Thunderbird, citing its resemblance to “an orgy” and expressed concern that a male student might “shake his backsides right off,” continuing, “please excuse me from this bottom-shaking business.  Whatever it is, it is not a dance and shouldn’t be classified as a dance.” Otelia Connor, “From Otelia,” DTH (11 July 1963, pg. 4).

Despite her traditional ideas about sex and dancing, Otelia was more progressive regarding dissent.  As she wrote in a rare political letter to the editor, “When this country ever reaches the point where it is afraid of new ideas and afraid to let people express themselves in open and free debate, then democracy will already be dead, and waiting to be buried by the communist world.” Otelia Connor, “More Afraid Of J Birchers,” DTH (11 December 1962, pg. 2).  This is not to say that she embraced an activist worldview.  Although she claimed to support civil rights for African Americans, she objected to continuing demonstrations by the Civil Rights movement, “I think it would be the part of wisdom to consolidate the many gains they have made recently, and give the extreme segregationists a chance to accommodate themselves to the changes which have come about.”  Otelia Connor, “From Otelia On Civil Rights,” DTH (1 August 1963, pg. 5).

By the end of her life, Connor had recanted some of her earlier strictures regarding dancing, male-female relationships, and—in her final letter—long hair on men.  In that last article, she decried her earlier belief “that everybody should conform to the status quo, and that there should never be any changes.”  After exhorting men with long locks to keep their hair clean, she offered words of wisdom for all generations, “Let us all, students and adults, grow into maturity, and be ready to accept the next period of change around the corner.” Otelia Connor, “Time For Change,” DTH (31 July 1969, pg. 6).

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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.


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).

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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.


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.


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/


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Gimghoul Coded Yearbook Messages

A portion of a yearbook page that says "The Order of Gimghouls" at top and features the Gimghoul icon of a creature behind a column holding a key. Its tail spells "Gimghoul." A message, in code, is below.

An excerpt from the Gimghouls page in the 1890 UNC yearbook.

If you were to examine a UNC yearbook, you would encounter the expected contents: sports pages, page after page of fraternities, and reminders of the year’s major events. However, there are more mysterious things lurking in those pages courtesy of the Order of Gimghoul: coded messages.

A bit of background knowledge is needed to understand any of this in the first place. The Order of Gimghoul, a males-only secret society, was founded in 1889 by Edward Wray Martin, William W. Davies, Shepard Bryan, Andrew Henry Patterson, and Robert Worth Bingham, all students at UNC-Chapel Hill. The legend of Peter Dromgoole was used as the basis for their society and it was founded as the Order of Dromgoole. The name was later changed to Gimghoul “in accord with midnight and graves and weirdness.” Martin created the initiation ritual, constitution, and bylaws, and as years passed they evolved. The order consolidated its beliefs and customs into a combination of the Dromgoole legend and the ideals of Arthurian chivalry.

Despite being secret, the Order frequently has a yearbook page. The first Gimghoul page appeared in The Hellenian in 1890. Since the Order’s creation, the Rex—the term for the  Gimghoul leader—has been expected to write a coded message in the yearbook each year, and a message has appeared in almost every yearbook produced since 1892. The Hellenian yearbook was replaced by The Yackety Yack in 1901, but the messages continued. On occasion, a message from a preceding year will be repeated.

The messages are almost always accompanied by the Gimghoul emblem, a ghoul that grins wickedly and spells out “Gimghoul” with his tail. In his left hand he holds the Mystic Key, in his right the Cross of Gimghoul. Each emblem also includes the moon, a group of 7 stars, and a column set on a triple foundation.

A selection of the decoded messages are presented in their entirety below.

1895: “Now let us all take caeer [cheer] and eook [look] to wxat’s [what’s] to come for tas’s a prospaeons [prosperous] year in whiya [which] we ael aape [all hope] wox to moy it be.”

The writer of the 1895 message made a minor alteration to the key used to code “Gimghoulese,” but even with this taken into account the message is garbled. The writer made mistakes in his use of the alphabet square, making it difficult to decipher. In addition, it was evidently handwritten: the typesetter misunderstood several letters.

1896: “On being tied to a tree in the initiatiop [initiation], Butlxr [Butler] desertbd [deserted] He was chughk [caught] in bed and initiated nevertheless. The Devil is hard to beat.

Yours–Valmar VIII”

The Butler mentioned here was a math instructor initiated in 1895-6. The process was a complicated one: neophytes would gather in Room 22 of South Building around midnight, awaiting their fate. Eventually, a robed and hooded figure would arrive and lead inductees eastward, on a path through Battle Park. A secondary, harsher path to Piney Prospect would be used to reach the final initiation point, Dromgoole Rock. There would stand the Rex himself, who would finally declare one a member.

The mysterious author, Valmar VIII, was the Rex William R. Webb. A Valmar is credited as authoring most messages.

1899: “In this, the tenth year, let every loyal knight renew his love for Gimghoul, and aid in continuing its noble work. Valmar X”

1901: “Read ‘Guinevere’ lines 460-480, in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Valmar XI”

The lines referred to read as follows:

In that fair Order of my Table Round,
A glorious company, the flower of men,
To serve as model for the mighty world,
And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
To reverence the King, as if he were
Their conscience, and their conscience as their King,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To honour his own word as if his God’s,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her; for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.

1902: “We saould not pass from the iarth uithknr trcces to corry oqd memonh xvb postesity.”

This message is supposed to read “we should not pass from the earth without leaving traces to carry our memory to posterity.”

1903: “The wise leader is he who knows when to follow.”

1904: “The great works in this world spring from the ruins of greater projects.”

1911-1914: “Sir Knights, remember noblisse oblige and be courageous, be loyal, be true. Valmar XXII”

1915, 1918, 1919: “To all Sir Knights the world around, greetings from Hippol Castle, Glanden.”

1921: “To Sir Knights the world over — greetings!”

1922, 1923: “Never let nothing get you down.”

1924: “Fight to the finish and never say die.”

1925: “One thing is forever good; that one thing is success.”

1930: “Courage, loyalty, truth, love: these four badges, Sir Knights, you must ever wear.”

1935: “The power to meet life with love and courage is all that makes life worth living.”

1944-1946: “Speed to all ye Sir Knights of the Order who have entered the service of our great country.”

A yellowed page featuring a square of letters and instructions for deciphering a code.

The alphabet square used to decipher the messages until 1895. [From the Order of Gimghoul Records, University Archives]

These translations come from Gimghoul Pages, an unattributed collection of Gimghoul yearbook pages found in the Records of the Order of Gimghoul. The book also includes a cipher for anyone who might want to do decoding for themselves, but most decoding will be fruitless; in 1895 the Order changed the alphabet square in an unknown manner. Additionally, the codes are frequently garbled thanks to the typesetters’ difficulty in understanding the messages.

Due to the secret nature of the Order, Gimghoul records in Wilson Library that are less than 50 years old are closed to everyone but members of the Order and those with written permission from the current Rex. However, records older than 50 years (including the materials referenced here) are open for research in Wilson Library.


“Papers (Open), 1832-1996” in the Order of Gimghoul of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1832-2009 #40262, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Hellenian and Yackety Yack yearbooks, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (View online via DigitalNC)

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Behind the Scenes: Describing Archived Websites

On May 22, I participated in an Archive-It training webinar on describing archived websites. The following is a summary of my short presentation on the Wilson Special Collection Library’s approach to describing archived websites in finding aids.

Special Collections has been archiving websites with Archive-It since 2013. Our Archive-It account is spilt into collections that reflect our five main collecting units as well as one collection for the UNC at Chapel Hill Art Library. Some of our collecting units use catalog records to describe archived websites, but my presentation is focused on the finding aid side of the house and uses examples from the University Archives collection.

What makes describing websites unique?

In many ways, our approach to archived website description lines up with existing archival finding aid practices. However, there are some ways that archived websites are unique from other materials. For example, date can be tricky. Do we describe the date we archived the website or try to assign some kind of creation date? Our technical services team opted for describing the date we started archiving a website rather than trying to assign the website a date of use or creation. Other challenges are the recurring nature of “crawling” websites, frequently changing content, URL changes and redirects, the differing frequencies used to archive different websites in our collections, and the technical limitations and incompleteness of some archived websites.

Case Studies

We have some consistency in our approach, but we don’t have written documentation yet. The following examples are representative of our approach as well as a couple newer things we have tried more recently.

Archive-It Collection level description

  • The first example is a finding aid for the University Archives’ Archive-it collection. The finding aid was created in 2013 and serves as a blanket entry point and general description of all URLs in the collection. I think this is a helpful finding aid to have, but the University Archives collection has grown a lot since 2013. One improvement might be adding series to this finding aid that describe groups of related URLs in the collection.  The additional description will help the finding aid show up in more searches. It would also provide users with more access points rather than just being transported directly to the entire (very long) list of URLs in our collection.

URL level description

  • The second example is adding description of individual URLs to finding aids. This style of description is pretty standard across manuscript collecting units and was implemented broadly by our technical services team in 2013-14. Typically, these URLs were selected for archiving because we already had a collection for the person or organization. When adding individual archived websites to finding aids, we link to the Archive-It “calendar page” that shows each of the dates we archived the URL. The description also provides the URL, the first crawl date by month and year, and a brief description of the live website.
  • This approach works well. One way I’d like to iterate on this approach is to figure out how best to represent the incomplete nature of archived websites in the finding aid. The description of the site describes the live website features and content, but the archived version may be different based on how often we archive it or it may have elements missing due to technical limitations of web crawlers.
  • Example:

Group of related URLs description

  • A third way we’ve represented archived websites is by creator groups and this is a slightly newer approach for us. Instead of listing individual websites on this finding aid, we added one link to the group of URLs created by the student organization. We could have done item level and that might allow for better description of the URLs given that each is quite different (e.g. a Facebook event page vs. Email newsletter vs. a website). But linking to a group of URLs does fit more closely to traditional archival description practices that focus on aggregate rather than items. We’ll have to continue to think about how to handle the donation or selection of several websites by one creator in our descriptions.
  • Example:

Intersection of legacy media and websites

  • The last example is really different from our other archived websites. Last year I worked on a project with a colleague to deal with website directories given to UA on optical media (I wrote about it on the blog here). These sites are no longer live on the web. We essentially re-hosted the website, gave it an artificial URL, and crawled it with Archive-It.
  • One of the questions we had was how to best describe these websites. In order to re-host and archive the sites with Archive-It we had to use an artificial URL and the crawl date is very different from the creation/use of the site. Additionally, the directory of files from the DVD had already been ingested to the repository a couple years ago. We needed to make some connections between these factors.
  • We decided to keep a link to the repository, note the DVD identification number, link to Archive-It, and explain a bit about the process to re-host the site.

Next Steps

Our staff last talked about this work in 2013-14 when we first started using Archive-It, so our best next step is to revisit this topic as a group and figure out how we can iterate on our current approaches to meet the unique description challenges posed by archived websites. I had the pleasure of participating in the OCLC Web Archives Description working group in 2016-17 and the guidelines produced by the group will be a helpful resource in this discussion. Documentation of our practices for describing websites will be an important addition to our existing documentation for description of born-digital materials in archival finding aids. I’d also like to use more metadata in the Archive-It access interface. The OCLC WAM guidelines can help with that as well.

You can use and explore our archived website collections online through our Archive-It access portal.




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