December 18th: A Mandate from the State, and the Chartering of UNC

UNC Chapel Hill's historic marker which proclaims its status as the first state university.
The historic marker that proclaims UNC’s status as the first state university.

December 18th is an important day in both United States and North Carolina history. Several important historical events have happened on this day.

For example, the Mayflower docked at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18th, 1620.

But at University Archives, December 18th is important for two different reasons. One, the mandate for a state-run university in North Carolina, and two, the chartering of the University of North Carolina.

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, North Carolina ratified its first constitution, the Constitution of 1776, on December 18th, 1776. It was in this document that the provincial congress first called for a state-run university.

Article 41 of the Constitution of 1776 set forth the following mandate:

“…that a school or schools shall be established by the legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the masters, paid by the public, as may enable them to instruct at low prices; and, all usefull [sic] learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more universities.”

However it was not until 1789 that the University of North Carolina was chartered.

The minutes of the first meeting of the Board of Trustees from from Volume 1 of the Board of Trustees Records (40001)
The minutes of the first meeting of the Board of Trustees from from Volume 1 of the Board of Trustees Records (#40001). Click to view a larger version of this image.

On December 18th of that year, the Board of Trustees convened for the first time in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was at that meeting that William Richardson Davie informed the trustees that Colonel Benjamin Smith had donated 20,000 acres of land in what would become Tennessee to the University. The trustees sold the land and used the resulting funds to support the fledgling institution in its early years. Later, the Trustees chose to honor Colonel Smith by naming a campus building after him– Smith Hall, which was completed in 1851. Smith Hall is now known as the Playmakers Theater.

While the landing of the Mayflower is a very important moment in United States history, the chartering of the nation’s first public university to open its doors is important, too.

Today we celebrate the University of North Carolina, which has been serving the state for 218 years. But our University would be nothing without the students, faculty, and staff who learn, teach, and work here. Thank you all, and happy December 18th!

A Beautiful Legacy: Collecting Greek Life at UNC

Phi Mu Chapter Association (alumnae) President Debra Pickrel and House Corporation Director Karen O’Donnell Dias discuss which materials the chapter will present to University Archives first.
Phi Mu Chapter Association (alumnae) President Debra Pickrel and House Corporation Director Karen O’Donnell Dias discuss which materials the chapter will present to University Archives first.

Over the past year and a half, UNC Chapel Hill’s University Archives has actively pursued student groups in an effort to better represent the history of student life. However, there are a lot of student groups to choose from on our active campus. One of our priorities has been to collect Greek life materials. Because more than 3,000 students on our campus are involved in Greek life, fraternities and sororities are a part of the Carolina Experience for many students.

This semester, Phi Mu will be the first of UNC’s sororities to deposit its materials in University Archives for safekeeping. While we have some fraternity records (including Delta Kappa Epsilon and Chi Psi), sorority records have been noticeably absent in our holdings. As the Gamma Lambda chapter of Phi Mu approached planning for its 50th anniversary in 2014, alumnae began to reflect on their chapter’s history. Realizing that historic materials were stored in several disparate places and that many items could use conservation and preservation, they were eager to find a way to store them in a single location under archival conditions. Participating in the new University Archives initiative will accomplish this and facilitate all future anniversary research.

Phi Mu Chapter Association (alumnae) President Debra Pickrel (center left) shows University Archives and Records Management graduate assistant Morgan Jones a construction photo of the sorority’s house at 211 Henderson Street as Chapter Historian Lauren Spoenimon (far left) and Chapter President Mary Maher (far right) look on.
Phi Mu Chapter Association (alumnae) President Debra Pickrel (center left) shows University Archives and Records Management graduate assistant Morgan Jones a construction photo of the sorority’s house at 211 Henderson Street as Chapter Historian Lauren Spoenimon (far left) and Chapter President Mary Maher (far right) look on.

When Phi Mu’s Gamma Lambda chapter colonized at Carolina in 1964, the Board of Trustees had just approved the admittance of women regardless of their residence or major; however, admittance was still extremely competitive because of the scarcity of housing for female students. With the loan of Phi Mu’s 1964-1965 scrapbook and other materials to University Archives, researchers and chapter sisters alike will be able to understand how Phi Mu began its first 50 years on Carolina’s campus.

We look forward to working with Phi Mu as well as other sororities this year to increase the representation of Greek organizations in University Archives!

If you are a member of a Greek fraternity or sorority and wish to deposit materials in the archives for safe keeping, please contact us!

New Accession: Dr. Herbert Bodman Papers

The University Archives recently acquired the papers of Dr. Herbert L. Bodman, Jr., a UNC professor of Islamic studies who passed away in 2011. Dating from the early 1950s when Bodman was studying in Lebanon, the papers deal primarily with his dissertation research on community identities in the Syrian city of Aleppo during the eighteenth century. To this day, Aleppo is considered the largest city in Syria and has been the site of many historical conflicts, both ancient and modern, from the Crusades to the current civil war.

A multi-linguist, Bodman’s research spans English, French, and Arabic and sheds light on his exhaustive use and translation of a variety of sources. More abstractly, it offers a window into the research process before the time of computers when copious indexing was necessary. Below are some interesting notes from a meeting he had with Arab political leaders–one of whom appears to be Akram al-Hawrani (or Hourani), a leading member of the Baath Party–on March 5, 1953, in which they discuss the idea of Arab unity:

Meeting Notes
“Meeting with Akram Hourani & al-Afflah, 5 March 1953,” Dr. Herbert Bodman Papers, #40388, University Archives

Faculty papers occupy an essential place in the university’s history and, as Herbert Bodman’s papers demonstrate, also offer insight on the world at large.

UNC Adds 18th Institution to System: Geometrodynamics University?

Many of the legal issues faced by the UNC General Administration are no laughing matter, but sometimes they do make for some interesting, even humorous, correspondence.

North Carolina law mandates that UNC system institutions receive a license from UNC’s Board of Governors to confer degrees. Because of this, General Administration has found itself playing watchdog when institutions have 1) claimed to be constituents of the university system, or 2) have come under suspicion of being a degree mill.

In this 1984 letter, the former associate vice president of  student services and special programs at UNC General Administration takes a rather serious tone against the founder of “Geometrodynamics University” for awarding himself a doctorate degree in quantum mechanics:

From the unprocessed backlog of General Administration's Legal Affairs Division, #40015, University Archives.
From the unprocessed backlog of General Administration’s Legal Affairs Division, #40015, University Archives.

This is just a relatively lighthearted example of an issue that UNC General Administration has to deal with;  many more examples of similar, and more serious interactions can be found in the archives.

Ice Cold

This Friday will be the first day of Summer, and after the past few hot and sticky days we’ve had here in Chapel Hill I thought we could all use some icy imagery to help us stay cool…


This image, taken after the formidable Ice Storm of December 2002 that coated Chapel Hill in about three quarters of an inch of ice, is from a collection of digital photographs transferred to University Archives from the School of Medicine’s Department of Medical Illustration and Photography.

This collection of digital photographs contains aerial images of campus, shots of buildings and departments on the medical school  and hospital campuses, and more photographs documenting the ice storm and some of the the damage it caused. All of the digital photographs from this collection can be found in the Carolina Digital Repository.

Do you remember this terrible storm?

Library Rules, 1799

Silhouette of the Campus of the University of North Carolina 1814
Silhouette of the Campus of the University of North Carolina 1814

Ever wonder what library rules were like in 1799, soon after the founding of the University of North Carolina library?  In this gem of an entry from the General Faculty and Faculty Council Records, the Board of Trustees write the rules for the library.  Notice that some things never change: reference books remain in the library for the most part, call slips go out with books, and fees are paid for “defaced” books.

The university acquired its first book in 1785: “The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God” by Father Thomas Wilson.  Though it was still eight years before the founding of the first state university, the book was placed in the New Bern Academy for safekeeping until the university opened its doors

The building they are writing about in the 1799 rules is still standing, though it is no longer a library.  The Philanthropic Society Library was housed in Old West, and was one of only a few university buildings.  There is evidence, though, that aside from the well-stocked “society” libraries, the University Library remained in a 9 feet by 12 feet room in the President’s House until 1814!

The library was only open 2-3 hours per day as late as 1885, which put a damper on students camping out during finals.  Librarians, of course, were not SILS educated, but instead members of the Philanthropic Society who volunteered their time as university librarian to watch over the collection, which numbered a few hundred books.

All students paid a fee of $1-2 per semester until the early 1800s, when the university allocated $250 per year to the library.  The library endowment is now well into the millions, and student fees (though most of the fees are not for the library) are thousands of dollars.

Do you want to learn more about the history of the University library buildings?  This is just a preview for the University Buildings exhibits, coming this spring to a library near you!  The exhibit on the library buildings will be up in Davis Library March 1-May 31.  See the full list of library rules after the jump!

Continue reading “Library Rules, 1799”

Collecting the Student Experience

What are your fondest memories of college? Were they formed outside the classroom, hanging out with your friends? Did you warmly remember hours spent singing with the chorus, helping your friend run in student elections, or building sets for an upcoming play?

For participants, these activities rounded out their student experiences. Sadly, the events and memories are too fleeting; little pieces are lost with each graduating class until they are all but forgotten. Last fall, The Daily Tar Heel highlighted this lack of student organizational history in an article focusing on Company Carolina. The article incurred the wrath of many Company Carolina alumni, who believed they had left the group with plenty of unforgettable history!

University Archives would like to help students and alumni better preserve their collective memories. Towards that goal, we are actively seeking to assemble records produced by student organizations. These records might include items such as meeting minutes, rules of governance, production records, ephemera, photographs, and website content. This summer, as we test the best methods for collecting these records, we are focusing on two student theatre groups: the already-inspired Company Carolina and the long-running Lab! Theatre. Eventually, we hope to make contact with many other student groups.

Here’s where you can help! We encourage all current student groups to contact us so we can discuss transferring their records to the University Archives. We are also happy to offer groups advice on how they can preserve their own records. If you are a UNC alumnus with records from your own time working with a student group, we would also like to hear from you! Help us make the student experience part of Carolina’s permanent archival record.

Scene from Lab! Theatre's 2000 production of "Crimes of the Heart"

Jubilee at UNC!

From 1963 to 1971, the end of the spring semester at UNC was marked by Jubilee.  The concert progressed from a relatively small affair on the lawn in front of Graham Memorial to much larger events that took place on Polk Place, Fetzer Field, Kenan Stadium, and Navy Field.

In 1963, the Four Preps, the Chad Mitchell Trio, and Iain Hamilton performed at the first Jubilee.  The Four Preps was the main concert on Friday evening and about 5,000 people attended.  The Saturday and Sunday afternoon concerts were each attended by about 2,500 people.

1963 Jubilee program
1963 Jubilee program from the Records of the Student Union
Photograph of the 1963 Jubilee
Photograph of the 1963 Jubilee from the Records of the Student Union

Since then, a variety of musicians and musical groups, and even one comedian has performed at Jubilee, including Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, The Serendipity Singers, The Sinfonians, The Platters, Johnny Cash and June Carter, The Temptations, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, B.B. King, and Joe Cocker.  The comedian was Fred Smoot.

In 1966, the first two nights of Jubilee took place in Carmichael Auditorium because of the weather and then in Polk Place on Sunday afternoon.

The Bitter End Singers performed on Friday night in front of 5,500 people.  On Saturday, David, della Rosa, and Brooks, Jay and the Americans, and Al Hirt performed for 7,200 people.  And on Sunday afternoon Charlie Byrd performed on stage in Polk Place in front of South Building.

1966 Jubilee program
1966 Jubilee program from the Records of the Student Union
1969 Program
1969 Jubilee program from the Records of the Student Union

Forty years ago on April 30 – May 2, 1971 the last Jubilee concert was held.  And by then the concert had changed a lot from its early years.  There were more performers and the crowds were much larger.  The performers included Chuck Berry, Spirit, Cowboy, Muddy Waters, the J. Geils Band, the Allman Brothers, and Tom Rush, among several others.

The attendance was 17,500 on Friday night, 23,000 for Saturday night, and 9,000 for Sunday afternoon.

Ticket from the 1971 Jubilee
Ticket from the 1971 Jubilee from the Records of the Student Union

A week after the 1971 concert was held, the Student Union Activities Group recommended that Jubilee “be discontinued and that the money be used to increase programming throughout the entire year.”  Jubilee had just grown too big and had been marred by complaints about noise, trash, and the large crowds for several years.  The 1971 concert with its huge and unruly crowd was the last straw.  Concert goers tore down fences and a security guard hired for the event was severely injured trying to stop people from flowing through the holes.

Daily Tar Heel photograph of the 1971 Jubilee
Photograph of the security guard being tackled by concert goers rushing through the holes cut in the fence. Published in the May 5, 1971 edition of the Daily Tar Heel.

Fortunately, the history of Jubilee at UNC is preserved in the University Archives.  From programs, memos between University officials, correspondence, contracts with performers, scrapbooks, fliers, posters, photographs, and pins, you can trace the evolution of Jubilee from a small affair in front of Graham Memorial Union to the large crowd at Navy Field.

Of special note is the film of the 1971 Jubilee created by Jim Bramlett, Rick Gibbs, and Charlie Huntley, as well as H. B. Hough, Bill Hatch, Rod Waldorf, Peter Chaikin, Jim Eldridge, and Tom Eshelman.  This film is part of the Records of the Student Union and a DVD is available for viewing in the reading rooms of Wilson Library.  A short clip from the beginning of the film is available here:

Materials about Jubilee are available in at least a couple of different collections in Wilson Library, and many of the documents and some photographs have been digitized. For more information and links to digitized materials, please see:

It’s Ask Archivists Day, Today and Everyday

June 9th is Ask Archivists Day on Twitter.  By tweeting questions to @AskArchivists or using the #AskArchivists hashtag you can get all sorts of questions answered by archivists around the globe.

So ask away!  But remember that University Archives staff is here everyday to answer any questions you may have about what we do and what we have here at University Archives, UNC history, even records management.  And if we can’t answer your question, we will refer you to someone who can.


Cool New Collection: Professor Bob Goldstein’s Gig Posters for Science


This past spring University Archives acquired a wonderful collection of posters from UNC Professor Bob Goldstein.  Goldstein creates these posters to advertise guest lectures and the distinguished lecture series the within the Department of Biology.

The posters are “gig” style posters, similar to the ones you see plastered on telephone poles and kiosks around town advertising shows at local music venues.  In fact, this is where Goldstein found the inspiration to begin creating these unique posters.  They were screen printed locally at design and print shop The Merch.

Take a look at the posters in the Gig Posters for Science Flickr stream, and if you want to see the real thing, come visit us in Wilson Library!

(Image courtesy of Flickr user gigpsforscis)