Monday, April 21, 2014

The Outdoor Gymnasium

Outdoor Gymnasium
Physical education was an important part of the curriculum of the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG). The program was expanded in the early 1920s to include gymnastics, outdoor sports, and folk and aesthetic dancing. New space was desperately needed to provide a sheltered area for outdoor sports and additional room for indoor activities. Previous space for indoor gymnastics had included a room in the Administration Building (later named the Foust Building), the Curry Building Chapel, and the basement of Spencer Dormitory.

When Mary Channing Coleman became the director of the physical education department in 1921, she rejuvenated the program and new athletic space was immediately planned. An outdoor gymnasium was affordable and would allow more space for athletics until a larger structure could be built. This new gymnasium was designed by local architect Harry Barton in 1922, at a cost of $9,871.83. It was a large wooden structure, measuring approximately 91 feet long, 51 feet wide and 20 feet to the top of the eaves.

Student Skaters in the Outdoor Gymnasium, 1942
In preparation for inclement weather, the Gymnasium was equipped with canvas “drops” which could completely enclose the building. In addition to physical education classes, the Outdoor Gymnasium became a popular spot for basketball, roller-skating, and rainy day activities. Located west of Shaw Residence Hall, the outdoor gymnasium was completed three years before the construction of the Rosenthal Gymnasium.  It would soon be overshadowed by the new gymnasium which was hailed as one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the country. Rosenthal Gymnasium included a swimming pool, an indoor golf room, a mirrored dance studio, and a bowling alley. The outdoor space was used during bad weather and for overflow physical education activities until 1964 when it was torn down.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Summer Studies at the Shore

On June 15, 1931, Archie D. Shaftesbury, Associate Professor of Zoology at the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) wrote Mary Taylor Moor, the school's registrar, regarding a proposal "to conduct a three weeks summer term in zoology at Beaufort during this and succeeding summers." Shaftesbury emphasized that "it is our intention to reserve this work for certain selected students, rather than to open the course to classes of any considerable size." He asked Moore to quickly take the proposal to the "college credit committee" to ensure that students planning to participate that summer would be eligible for course credit.

Dr. Archie Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury's work to bring students to Beaufort for marine zoology study continued to develop, and, in 1934, student members of the school's Zoology Field Club actively joined in by writing their alumni members for support "in the establishment of our marine laboratory on the North Carolina coast." They asked that each former member pledge $10 ($5 in 1935 and $5 in 1936) to support the development of these research facilities. These efforts paid off. In 1935, work began on the construction of the "Carolina Marine Laboratory" in Beaufort. Previously, students had made use of local high school classrooms as well as U.S. Bureau of Fisheries laboratories and boats for their summer studies. 

Beaufort continued to grow as a hub of marine research. In addition to the active U.S. Bureau of Fisheries facility and the newly-constructed NCCW laboratory, Duke University established a presence in the town in 1937 with the purchase of 11.5 acres to house a third research facility.

In 1938, the NCCW facility in Beaufort featured a course in Invertebrate Zoology, a class "designed for seriously minded advanced college students, high school teachers, and others who may be interested professionally in biology." An information pamphlet sent to prospective applicants to the course noted that "while the work is not a vacation in the ordinary sense, the experiences offer a pleasant change from the confines of the classroom and laboratory together with an unusual opportunity for observation and study." Classes were held between June 13 and July 9.

Biology students studying  at Beaufort, ca. 1940
That same summer, NCCW's presence in Beaufort expanded beyond marine research as the art department established a 26-day "summer colony" in the town. Gregory D. Ivy, head of the art department and manager of the "colony," proclaimed the project to be an "experiment." The academic work centered around coursework in "advanced landscape painting," which focused on "the theories and methods used by the post-impressionist cubists, and surrealists." It appears that this was indeed a limited experience, as the bulk of the NCCW use of Beaufort focused solely on marine biology.   

The 1961-1962 course bulletin contains the last direct reference to the Invertebrate Zoology course conducted at the Beaufort facility by Shaftesbury (who had become professor emeritus in 1959). Current UNCG students, however, can study marine science in Beaufort as part of a 20-college Marine Science Education Consortium that send students to the Duke Marine Lab for a semester or for summer session.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lucille Pugh: Woman Lawyer

On April 28, 1899, Lucille Pugh of Lewiston in Eastern North Carolina wrote Charles Duncan McIver to petition for admittance to the State Normal and Industrial School. Pugh was the daughter of a cotton farmer, and, like many students who wrote McIver, her family was not able to cover the cost of tuition, room, and board. She wrote, "I am very anxious to attend the Normal College this fall, but am not able to defray my expenses." She asks if there are any jobs available at the school that she can perform, adding that she is "willing to do anything to get an education." After learning more about her education up that point, McIver offered her a position in the "laundry department." While Pugh admitted that she had "never ironed any," she was willing and able to do the work, as it meant she could further her education.

Sixteen-year-old Pugh arrived at State Normal in October 1899 to begin her studies. But her financial woes continued. In November 1899, she borrowed money from McIver to travel home, but was unable to repay it upon her return. Prior to each successive semester, she writes McIver to petition for a campus job, fearing that a lack of funds would prohibit her from returning to State Normal. In the Summer of 1901, she went so far as to move to Atlantic City, NJ, to take a job as a cashier in hopes of raising enough money to cover her college expenses for the following year. That job, combined with a gift from an undisclosed source, gave her enough money to return to State Normal in the fall. But by January, she had no more money and her father, who was ill with "yellow chills" (likely malaria), was unable to harvest a crop and could not pay her school bills. She was forced to leave the school in early 1902.

Sadly, Pugh's story was not an uncommon one. Many State Normal students were forced to withdraw before completing the program due to the financial strain on their families. What Pugh did after leaving State Normal, however, sets her in a class by herself. She traveled to New York to visit an aunt, and, after working for a while as a stenographer, she enrolled in night classes at the New York University Law School. In 1908, she graduated and was admitted to the New York Bar Association at the age of 24.

Only four years later, Pugh became the first female lawyer in the country to defend an accused murderer when she was assigned the case of LeRoy Poindexter, an African American man accused of killing a white man over a game of craps. In her defense of Poindexter, Pugh argued that his 14th Amendment rights had been violated because neither the grand jury that indicted him nor the special jury impaneled to try him had any African American members. This was a common situation in most New York courts, but Pugh's argument against it was extremely progressive. In fact, it wasn't until 23 years later that an American court saw a reversal of a conviction of black man for murder on the grounds that African American were excluded from jury service. Ultimately, Pugh's arguments proved only partially successful. Poindexter was convicted not of murder but of manslaughter in the 2nd degree -- the least of the charges against him. He was sentenced to seven and a half to 15 years in the state penitentiary.

"Miss Pugh as she appears for social occasions," 1925
Her criminal and civil casework continued, but in 1917, her personal life became front page news when she filed for divorce from Ray E. Pierce, her husband of nine years. While they had married in 1908, they lived apart and, because she worked using her maiden name, few people knew Pugh had ever been married. In 1915, however, she had actually written an article in the New York Times in opposition to the commonly-held belief that married women were required to use their husband's last name in any legal documents. She continued this argument in 1920, stating that "women's efforts to retain their names after marriage are the first faint whirring of the clock of time about to strike freedom for women."

Even more scandalous than her marriage and divorce was her choice of attire in court. A November 1912 headline referred to her as a "girl lawyer in male attire in the court." The article described her as dressed in "conventional man's attire, except the trousers ... On her head she wore a natty derby. A standing collar with a four-in-hand tie showed above her short, mannish coat." Pugh herself stated, "I believe that the business woman should do away with the air of special privilege, which ultra-feminine clothes give a woman, when she is acting in fair competition with men. Her clothes should be impersonal. She should not use her sex to create an advantage in a business situation, for she is then employing unfair tactics."

"Miss Pugh as attired for business," 1925
Pugh continued her legal work and advocacy for women's rights for decades. In 1925, she represented Lillian N. Duke, recently-deceased tobacco magnate J.B. Duke's first wife, in her efforts to claim some of Duke family fortune. In 1931, she was a leader in the effort to allow women access to the Bar Association of New York City's building. And in 1937, she was fined $250 and sentenced to ten days in "the workhouse" for contempt of court after charging a municipal court justice with malice and bias when he ruled against her request for a mistrial. A New York Times article quotes her as claiming the judge decided against her because she "licked [him] in the Municipal Court fifteen years ago." Later, her sentence was reduced to a censure only, after it was determined that the judge himself "provoked the remarks which he regarded as contemptuous."

On May 13, 1960, Lucille Pugh died in New York. Even then, her reputation preceded her, as her obituary stated: "Lucille Pugh, 75, a mannishly attired, pipe-smoking woman lawyer who gained national attention through her handling of both criminal and civil cases, died Thursday."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dixie Lee Bryant and Scientific Study at State Normal

When the doors opened for the first students at State Normal in October 1892, students were able to follow three general courses of study: domestic science, business, and "normal" (teacher education). The "normal" program extended beyond pedagogy studies to include the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Dixie Lee Bryant
Leading the science department was Dixie Lee Bryant, a charter member of the State Normal faculty. Bryant arrived at State Normal with an impressive academic background. Born in 1862 in Louisville, Kentucky, her family moved to Columbia, Tennessee, in 1886, and Bryant enrolled in the Columbia Female Institute. But she wished to complete a full course of college studies, particularly in the sciences. Yet, Bryant found that no Southern universities at the time admitted women to their science programs. As a result, in 1887, she applied and was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. In 1891, she graduated with a bachelor of science degree.

At State Normal, Bryant's course load spanned the sciences, ranging from courses in botany to geology to chemistry. In her initial year at State Normal, she taught six classes:
  • Physical Geography
  • Systemic and Structural Botany of Flowering Plants
  • General Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Zoology, and
  • Geology
In addition to this wide range of classes, she tutored many of the early students who arrived at State Normal with little to no prior education in the sciences.

Bryant also established the first scientific laboratories on campus (purported to be the first "chemical laboratory" for use by women in the state of North Carolina). In her unpublished reminiscences of her time at State Normal, Bryant wrote about building the laboratory spaces in the Main Building (now Foust). She was allotted only a small purchasing budget for the initial lab development. With that money, she was able to  purchase a few microscopes for the lab, but most of the specimens that the students studied under those microscopes were from Bryant's personal research collection. As stated in the 1892-1893 Annual Catalogue, "the department of Natural Sciences is equipped with laboratories and specimens which will be made better and more complete as the funds of the Institution will allow."

In her botany classes, Bryant and her students studied specimens, but they also went out in search of local plant life for study. As Bryant noted in her unpublished reminiscences, "the girls were delighted with the field work and made good herbaria" [collections of preserved plant specimens]. Bryant also taught the students the art of taking both field and laboratory notes.

Bryant (standing center) and students in the school's laboratory, 1896
In addition to her work at State Normal, Bryant was a member of the faculty at the 1894 Summer School for Teachers and Students, held in Chapel Hill. There, Bryant was tasked with instruction in physical geography and botany.

Bryant led the science department at State Normal until 1901, when she took a leave of absence to study at the Bavarian University of Erlangen in Germany, where she earned her PhD in geology and graduated magna cum laude in 1904 (the first woman to receive this degree from Erlangen). When she returned to State Normal for the 1904-1905 school year, she was the first faculty member to hold a PhD.

Her advanced degree, in turn, proved somewhat divisive on her return. In spite of being the only faculty member with a doctorate, Bryant received no boost in her salary -- a salary which already lagged behind many of her more recently hired colleagues. In 1905, she left to teach in the public schools of Chicago. She remained in Chicago until 1931 when she retired retired to Asheville, NC.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Personal Accounts of Charles D. McIver

The general facts of the life of Charles Duncan McIver, the founding president of State Normal, are well documented. These include his birth on September 27, 1860, his strong commitment to education, the founding of the State Normal and Industrial School in 1891, and his untimely death at the age of 45. Often overlooked, however, are the details of his charismatic personality which contributed to his success as the first president of the school. Personal accounts by students and faculty, reveal that McIver was extremely well liked and left a lasting legacy on the campus.

McIver (left) and Edwin Alderman
When describing his physical appearance, it was noted that McIver was a rather thick, stocky man with short legs, standing just under six foot tall and weighing roughly 200 pounds. His eyes were gray and he had fair colored skin with thinning light brown hair. By some accounts, he was said to always looked like he was in a hurry with a determined look on his face, leaving no doubt about where he was going.

One of the reasons that McIver was such a portly person was his insatiable appetite for rich food. It was well known amongst the students and faculty that he loved to eat and particularly enjoyed meal time. It was said that he knew all of the head waiters in all of the good hotel restaurants across North Carolina. One of his favorite foods was watermelon which he sometimes bought by the wagon load and kept readily available to eat.

Along with his eating habits, McIver was known to be a humorous and jovial fellow with an uncanny talent for telling a joke and entertaining crowds with his speeches. This pleasant personality would also be evident in his commitment to connect with students and faculty at the school. Many recall that McIver had an exemplary ability to remember people’s names, faces, and past events. To aid his memory, he often carried a notepad with a list of all of the students. McIver would make an effort throughout the year to meet every student to learn their name and more about them. His biggest worry was not knowing each student well enough to talk with their parents.

Despite his typically friendly nature, McIver could also exemplify a very stern and strict demeanor, especially regarding discipline and order among the students. One student described her experience of being summoned to McIver’s office for taking an extra day away from school over the holiday break. She felt like she had her “heart in her throat” as she was "reprimanded severally for disobeying rules" despite her pleas. McIver ordered her to write fifty copies of the "contract" they were required to sign upon entering the college as punishment.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Speaker Ban Law and the Controversy over Academic Freedom at North Carolina Universities

On June 26, 1963, just before session adjournment, the North Carolina legislature ratified H.B. 1395, titled "an act to regulate visiting speakers at state supported colleges and universities." This bill decreed that no college or university receiving state funding in North Carolina was allowed to host a speaker who "(A) is a known member of the Communist Party; (B) is known to advocate the overthrow of the constitution of the United States or the state of North Carolina; [or] (C) has pleaded the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America in refusing to answer any question, with respect to communist or subversive connections, or activities." The act required the Boards of Trustees at these schools to enforce these restrictions.

Carolinian article regarding Student Government's
stance on Speaker Ban, Nov. 1, 1963
According to many reports, the bill and its passage came as a surprise to many, including key administrators in and across the Consolidated University of North Carolina System (which at the time, consisted of the University at Chapel Hill, N.C. State in Raleigh, and Woman's College -- soon to be UNCG). As detailed in a speech by UNCG Student Government President Anne Prince in October 1963, UNC President William Friday "was first notified of the existence of the bill just after it was introduced on the floor of the House, and before he could get to Raleigh, just 31 minutes later, a new law had been passed."

Administrators, faculty, staff, and students at the UNC System schools lambasted the bill, known as the Speaker Ban Law, as an assault on academic freedom. At UNCG, the Student Government passed numerous resolutions condemning the bill. Chancellor Otis Singletary joined President Friday and the leaders of the other two UNC campuses to speak out against the Speaker Ban Law. Faculty and key administrators across campus wrote legislators demanding a repeal of the law.

In a November 15, 1963 letter to President Friday, Herman Middleton, head of UNCG's Department of Drama and Speech, wrote about how he was unable to bring playwright Arthur Miller on campus to speak on his play The Crucible, which was being performed by the National Repertory Theatre as part of their residency at UNCG. Miller pleaded the fifth amendment during Congressional hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1957. Middleton wrote that "the educational experience would have been much greater if we could have had Mr. Miller on campus."

Farley Granger and Anne Meacham in the National
Repertory Theater's production of
Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Two years later, Mereb Mossman, dean of the faculty at UNCG, wrote North Carolina Governor Dan Moore regarding the impact of the Speaker Ban Law on faculty morale and recruitment. She wrote that "during the past two years, ... there have been many men whom we have sought to attract to positions on this campus who have questioned the Speaker Ban Law as an expression of lack of faith of the people of this State in its university." She also stresses the impact of the law on the national reputation and even its accreditation status (the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges was investigating possible violations of accreditation standards as a result of the law).

While many in academia fought the law, some North Carolina citizens encouraged legislators to continue the ban. A March 10, 1965 from a "P. Hastings" to Governor Moore declared that "any individual or group who refuses to come to the University of North Carolina or any other state supported college because Communists are not permitted to speak on the campus, indicates by their refusal that they are warped in their views to the extent that the students are better off by not hearing them." He continued, "I am positive beyond any doubt that if this matter was presented to the citizens of North Carolina and they be given an opportunity to express themselves, that 95% of them would be in favor of this law."

The North Carolina legislature, however, refused to repeal the law. In 1966, the UNC Chapel Hill chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) invited two known communist speakers to campus. In accordance with the Speaker Ban Law, the Board of Trustees rescinded the speakers' invitations. Supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the SDS filed suit in federal court challenging the Speaker Ban Law and its implementation. A three-judge federal court in Greensboro heard the arguments, and, in 1968, declared the Speaker Ban Law unconstitutional.

If you are interested in learning more about the speaker ban law in North Carolina (not just at UNCG), the State Archives has digitized a sampling of their archival records dealing with the Speaker Ban Study Commission.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Melville Fort, Early Advocate of Art Education

Melville Fort
Miss Melville Vincent Fort taught art. She may not have been as fashionable as Latin professor Viola Boddie or as majestic as Lady Principal Sue May Kirkland, but she was witty, intelligent, and friendly - a favorite with the faculty and students. Yet while many members of the original faculty have had buildings and conference rooms named in their honor, Miss Fort seems to have eluded the campus recognition gained by others.

Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Miss Fort graduated with honors from Mississippi Industrial Institute and College, considered the first public women’s college in the United States. She then acquired additional training in New York. Hired as a professor and head of the art department at the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG), Miss Fort was paid a significantly lower salary than other teachers at the college. Even though she was qualified for the position, her salary was $450 per year, as compared with Dixie Lee Bryant, who taught Natural Science with a salary of $900. This may reflect the attitude, held by many in education, that art was only a vocational subject, included in the curriculum because it was considered necessary for every future teacher to master. The industrial art department offered classes such as architectural and mechanical drawing, but it also recommended courses in decorative design, art history, china painting, woodcarving, and clay and plaster modeling. Miss Fort was known as an exacting teacher who expected, “respect for order and truthfulness of representation” in her classes. * Art classes met twice a week, and students were required to take a year of training to earn their diploma.

Melville and Her Bike, 1893

During a time when few teachers could afford their own home and many found themselves living in the dormitories with students, Miss Fort lived with Miss Gertrude Mendenhall, the professor of Mathematics. The teachers lived in “Green Cottage,” a small house directly off campus, entertaining both faculty and students with parties, games, and teas. She was also friends with the wives of the male faculty, especially with Effie Joyner, wife of James Y. Joyner, who taught English at the college from 1893 – 1902.

Miss Fort enjoyed riding her bike through campus and was active in the faculty photograph club, but her true love was art. She was a sincere advocate of appreciating art through nature. Miss Fort wrote a moving article about Peabody Park, five miles of graded drives and walkways on the North side of campus, which appeared in The Decennial. It includes the following sentiments:

If the mission of art is to cultivate the power to perceive and to appreciate the beautiful,  and, if nature is the source of all art, can  there be found a more natural or a more  pleasing method of cultivating this power than to lead the student into the beauties  of nature?

Faculty Photography Club, 1895
Melville Fort is seated at right
Her love of art led to interesting travels in her free time. In 1900, Miss Fort took a trip to Europe – all the more amazing given her meager salary. She toured the great art galleries of Europe and came home with many tales of her adventures. The expense of the trip may explain why a few years later, her summer would be spent teaching at the University of North Carolina (now UNC Chapel Hill). Subsequent trips included visiting campus physician Dr. Anna Gove at her family’s New Hampshire home and a pilgrimage in the summer of 1915 to Evangeline Country in Nova Scotia. The Longfellow heroine made quite an impression on Miss Fort and while she was impressed with the history of the poem, she was surprised that the “forest Primeval” and “murmuring pines and hemlocks” were no longer existent in the Canadian countryside described by Longfellow. As a souvenir, Miss Fort took a clipping of a willow tree thought to have been planted by the French Canadians. She wrapped it in a damp cloth and brought it back to the State Normal where Dr. Foust gave her permission to plant it by the entrance of the college.

In 1919, the changing focus of the school and resulting curriculum shifts, resulted in the resignation of Miss Fort and the two other vocational art teachers. Little is known of the details of Miss Fort’s life after leaving the college. She moved to Raleigh where she held part-time positions with the State architect and in the State Revenue Department. Interestingly, she moved in with the Joyner family and lived in their home until Mrs. Joyner died in 1930. Ultimately, Miss Fort was buried in the Joyner family plot in Raleigh after her death in 1939.

* As recalled in 1964 by Mrs. Julius Foust, a student of Miss Fort