Monday, April 24, 2017

The History of UNCG’s May Day Tiara

*This blog was written by Salem Academy student Alexaya McKelvey as part of her January Term Internship with the University Libraries at UNCG.

May Day - the celebration of a new season for crops, new beginnings, and the crowning of spring royalty. In 1904, The State Normal and Industrial School, now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, held their first ever May Day celebration, which consisted of performances of Shakespearean plays, musical processions, and dancing around flower covered poles to merry music. These celebrations were important not only for the girls and women who gained confidence in their reenactments, but also for the surrounding community to see the range of talents possessed by the students of the state-sponsored college.

The May Day Tiara

As time passed, State Normal grew in number and size, and the school's administration decided to exclude some of the larger celebratory practices and focus their attention on exemplary girls within their college. The crowning of the May Day Queen became an important event starting in 1929, when the May Day festival became less centered on various plays and processionals and began to highlight the women who attended the prominent all-women’s college.

May Day Court, 1929


The archives possesses the first photograph depicting the May Day Queen and her ladies in waiting. She wears a crown of flowers, giving her an angelic and innocent styling that mirrored a bride preparing for her wedding with her bridesmaids. For the next four years, the Queen of the festival was named but did not wear a tiara. In 1934, a traditional flower crown was given. However, in both 1935 and 1936, a small embellished hat was given to the most important woman in the celebrations.

1940 May Day Queen, Virginia Ambrose
Finally, in 1940, the official May Day Queen Tiara was presented to a young woman who was meant to represent the best aspects of her sisters in her school - Virginia Ambrose. Though a few ladies chose to wear a flower crown in the next years, the tiara reappeared in 1947 and continued to be worn until the May Day celebrations cease to exist in 1955. The May Day tiara is now part of the University Archives Artifact Collection.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Warren Ashby

Warren Ashby was born in Newport News, Virginia on May 15, 1920. He received his Bachelors of Arts degree in English from Maryville College in 1939, his Bachelors of Divinity degree in Christian Ethics and Social Problems from Yale University in 1942, and his Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Religion and Philosophy, also from Yale, in 1947.

Ashby teaching, 1969
Ashby began his teaching career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947 before transferring to the Woman’s College (now UNCG) in 1949 to be an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy. Ordained as a Methodist minister, Ashby specialized in Western Ethics and was known to sometimes officiate wedding ceremonies for his students. In 1958, he was promoted to full professor. Following his interest in the life of UNC President Frank Graham, Ashby took a research leave from the college in 1960 to begin collecting materials for an upcoming biography.
Upon his return to Woman’s College in 1961, Ashby continued teaching in the Department of Philosophy. In 1966, he was appointed director of the UNCG honors program and would serve in that role until 1970 when he became the Director of the Residential College (later renamed in his honor in 2007). Ashby’s long standing service to the university was formally acknowledged in 1967 when he received the UNCG Alumni Teaching Excellence Award.  He was recognized again in 1982 with the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award which honors faculty and staff who have provided outstanding leadership and service to the university.

Along with his distinguished teaching career, Ashby was known as a leading advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in Greensboro. He often held group meetings at his house with students from Woman’s College, Greensboro College and Bennett College to discuss the current social and political climate. In 1955, when it was considered dangerous for a white male to speak out in favor of civil rights in the South, Ashby wrote a letter to the editor of the Greensboro Daily News strongly endorsing an integrated public education. That same year, Ashby led a “faculty council resolution” supporting desegregation of UNC campuses. In the 1960s, during Greensboro’s civil rights demonstrations, Ashby served on several biracial committees “seeking racial harmony in the city.” He continued to push for complete desegregation on the university level through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1971, he advocated for a quota system that would guarantee minority employment.

Dr. Warren Ashby died October 3, 1985.

Other notable accomplishments of Dr. Warren Ashby:

• Ford Fellowship for Princeton University in Hartford College (1952-1953)

• Consultant for the National Family Life Education Project (ASHA) (1953-1955)

• President of the Family Service-Travelers Aid Association of Greensboro (1958)

• Consultant/Associate Director for Southern Student Human Relations Summer Seminars at Ohio State University and the University of Illinois (1958-1959)

• Director of the International Conferences and Seminars program for Southern Asia in the International Affairs Divisions of the American Friends Service Committee (1964-1966)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fighting to Make a Statement: The Struggle for UNCG's Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Clause


68 page nondiscrimination petition with 1045 signatures signed
by UNCG faculty, staff, and students
Last week (April, 4 2017), the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that LGBTQ+ employees are protected from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the first time a federal appeals court has ruled in favor (voting 8-3) of applying federal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Previously, the Act only protected individuals from discrimination based on color, national origin, race, religion, or sex (the argument is that sex additionally should cover sexual orientation). This decision, which will likely be debated before the Supreme Court, is a startling reminder that for decades, there has been no legal protection for an employee being fired or a student receiving unfair treatment for being a member of the LGBTQ+ communities. This case was heard in relation to the case of Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. Kimberly Hively, an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College, who happens to be a lesbian, maintains that she was denied full time employment by the college because of her sexual orientation (please note, the April 4th, 2017 court ruling is a separate factual question from the Lively case).[1] The college claims the campus nondiscrimination policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This struggle for sexual orientation nondiscrimination versus avoidance of implementing legally-binding policies has been a battle on college and university campuses for many years, including the campus of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).    
   
In a 1992 The Chronicle of Higher Education article about campus climate for faculty, John D’Emilio, a UNCG faculty in the Department of History at the time, stated “I think it safe to say I’m the person on campus who is most openly gay. On a very personal level, it’s fine… But although there is not an overtly hostile climate, there’s not much of a welcoming climate either. Because, if there was, there would be more openly gay faculty members and the University would have certain policies it doesn’t have. There might be courses that don’t exist now. It would be nice to have a faculty and staff group. I don’t think nondiscrimination or benefits policies will be under discussion until a group forms.”[2]

It was not until four years later, in 1996, that the UNCG Faculty Senate would debate the inclusion of a nondiscrimination policy for the campus. Contrary to D’Emilio’s prediction, it was not an LGBTQ+ faculty group that would bring the issue before the faculty and the chancellor (Patricia Sullivan), but three students concerned with the state of equity on the campus. After the unanimous passing of a nondiscrimination clause by the UNCG Student Senate, three lesbian students, Alesha Daughtrey, Jessica Stine, and Mandy Vetter, approached the Faculty Senate in spring of 1996 to approve a similar nondiscrimination statement.[3]  Of the sixteen UNCG campuses, ten already had adopted policies of nondiscrimination against school employees and students by 1996.[4] As UNCG was known to be an LGBTQ+-friendly university, it was thought that the resolution would pass through the Faculty Senate with approval quickly, however, the subject proved to be to be too complex and too volatile to be accepted without conflict.

According to the News and Record, some faculty expressed homophobic apprehensions about what would happen to the University if a policy protected someone based on sexual orientation,

At least one professor who voted against the measure feared the term ‘sexual orientation’ could be interpreted to include people with deviant sexual habits, such as pedophiles. Another professor said it could force the university to set up a quota system for hiring gays and lesbians” and that the policy was “unjustifiable, unworkable, [and] illegal.”[5]

UNCG Faculty Senate Chair, Charles Tisdale, who was reported as one of the few faculty members voting in support of a nondiscrimination policy, responded to such remarks, saying, “Nobody wants to face the moral issue, so they use the legal issue as a smoke screen.”[6]

Certainly, the potential legal ramifications of adopting a nondiscrimination policy based on sexual orientation, as described by the University Counsel of the time Lucien Capone III, were substantial. In a letter to Charles Tisdale, Capone states, “I want to reiterate at the outset that I personally support the notion that we ought not discriminate against anyone simply because of his or her sexual orientation. Rather, my concern is for the unintended consequences that may result if we attempt to formalize the philosophy into legally enforceable policies.”[7] There were two legal arguments brought to attention. One of the consequences Capone foresaw was that if the university created a policy protecting a classification of people not recognized by federal or state statutes, other groups with non-protected status could demand special treatment by UNCG.[8] At the Faculty Senate hearing for a nondiscrimination policy, Capone mentioned that the elevation of a non-protected group, such as one based on sexual orientation, might lead to such groups as “the KKK, skinheads, Nazis” or even smokers petitioning for special protection on campus.[9]  

Additionally, Capone argued that setting a policy protecting people based on sexual orientation may result in the University having to offer domestic partnership benefits. As gay and lesbian marriage was illegal at the time, University Counsel feared having a sexual orientation nondiscrimination policy would force UNCG to offer spousal benefits to “domestic partnerships [which] have no legal status leaving the University in a nether world of practically unanswerable questions.”[10]

When asked about Capone’s legal concerns relating to the implementation of a nondiscrimination policy, UNC System legal counsel, Richard Robinson, felt the arguments were alarmist. In relation to the potential for a gay and lesbian hiring quota, UNC Counsel argued that a nondiscrimination policy is not the same as an affirmative action policy, posing no threat to interfering with faculty recruitment. Robinson maintained that although any given group may ask for special treatment from a faculty senate or chancellor, no college or university could be forced to accept a policy for a non-state or federally protected group. Finally, on the subject of partnership benefits, “That kind of benefit-sharing is based on marital status, and as long as state law limits that kind to spouses then that really takes it off the screen.”[11]

After two failed votes by the UNCG Faculty Senate, James V. Carmichael Jr., Professor in the Library and Information Studies Department and member of the Equal Opportunity – Intergroup Relations Committee, presented the revised proposal for a non-legally binding anti-discrimination statement to UNCG Faculty Senate on November 2, 1996. Carmichael provided remarks in the stead of Novem Mason, Chair of the Committee, as Mason and Carmichael agreed that it was appropriate, “since I [Carmichael] am a gay faculty member… who called this perhaps the most significant even in the history of the university over the past 20 years.”[12] Carmichael, one of the few “out” faculty at UNCG at the time noted in his remarks,

While I am tenured, I know many faculty members who still feel threatened… For these individuals, silence and assimilation represent the better part of wisdom, and perhaps they are right… But stoicism has its perils, too… I urge the Senate to pass this proposed statement not only for the self-interest of a largely invisible minority, but so that this university may go on record as a leader in sensitivity to human rights. Given our history as a women’s institution, we should foster tolerance with adamant conviction.”[13]

Supporting Carmichael’s remarks, Joy Brown, an undergraduate student in the Department of Social Work, provided remarks and presented a sixty-eight page petition with 1045 signatures of UNCG faculty, staff, and students who supported the resolution. Brown was moved to begin this petition process after reading a News and Record article about the debacle, being, “shocked and embarrassed that the university that I take so much pride in would turn its back on guaranteeing the rights of some of its students.”[14]

After two previous attempts, a statement of nondiscrimination was voted in favor of unanimously by the Faculty Senate. It was approved by Chancellor Sullivan by the end of November 1996. Regarding this non-binding statement, Seth Tezyk, head of UNCG’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Association remarked, “I think it was a relief to pass it and say, ‘OK, let’s get our foot in the door.”[15] The nondiscrimination statement stands today, unchanged from its 1996 introduction, though state and federal conditions have changed for the LGBTQ+ communities. The North Carolina state health plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield began offering coverage for same-sex couples and all domestic partners as of 2014, and on June 26, 2015 the US Supreme Court ruled gay marriage was constitutionally protected, affording the potential for additional spousal benefits to the UNCG community. With the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement has made definitive progress, far beyond the putting “our foot in the door” of 1996.         





[1] Tarm, Michael. “Gay rights organizations hail court ruling as ‘game changer’.” AP News, 5 April, 2017, https://apnews.com/1250634e4f434d2ca02a0f8f1674e624. Accessed 5 April, 2017.
[2] Mooney, Carolyn J. “Gay men and lesbians talk about campus climate.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 Sept. 1992, p. A19.
[3] Carmichael, James V. Remarks by James V. Carmichael (Former Member, Equal Opportunity/Intergroup Relations Committee), November 6, 1996, p.1.
[4] The nondiscrimination policies across the ten institution were difference in format and none were legally binding. Six of the schools had policies/statements implemented by their Faculty Senate and four with a Chancellor’s statement.
Myers, Jane. "Memorandum: Resolution for Revision of UNCG's Non Discriminatory Policies and Practices." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina. (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject file)
[5] McMurtrie, Beth. “UNCG balks at sex-orientation policy.” Greensboro News and Record, 6 Oct. 1996, p. B1.
[6] Ibid,
[7] Capone, Lucien III. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, p. 1 (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject File)
[8] Capone, Lucien III. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, p. 3 (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject File)
[9] McMurtrie, Beth. “UNCG balks at sex-orientation policy.” Greensboro News and Record, 6 Oct. 1996, p. B1.
[10] Capone, Lucien III. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, p. 3 (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject File)
[11] McMurtrie, Beth. “UNCG balks at sex-orientation policy.” Greensboro News and Record, 6 Oct. 1996, p. B1.
[12] Carmichael, James V. Remarks by James V. Carmichael (Former Member, Equal Opportunity/Intergroup Relations Committee), November 6, 1996, p.1.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Brown, Joy. “[Remarks], November 6, 1996, p.1
[15] Associated Press. “Not binding in hiring; UNCG senate backs homosexual rights.” Star-News (Wilmington, NC), 8 Nov. 1996, p.6B.

Monday, April 3, 2017

His Name Was Kenneth Crump, a UNCG LGBT+ Special Post

The Carolinian. Dec. 2, 1982, p. 1
There are many rumors and urban legends relating to the history of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Along this line, you may have heard someone mention that a student committed suicide by jumping from the ninth floor of the Jackson Library tower. This is neither a rumor nor an urban legend. A UNCG student did jump to his death from the tower early one morning in 1982. His name was Kenneth Crump.

Kenneth Graham Crump was a twenty-one year old freshman at the time of his death. He lived in Strong Dormitory, although his family lived close to Greensboro, residing off of Sandy Ridge Rd in Hickory, North Carolina. There is no photograph of Kenneth in the student yearbook or The Carolinian, but he was described as being a small, young man, weighing roughly between 120 to 140 pounds. He was a dance major, and according to his ballet instructor, “Kenny was a hard worker and seemed to be a natural dancer.”[1] Kenneth’s roommate described him as a lover of “opera, ballet, and French horn, which he played.”[2] Few people on campus knew Kenneth personally, but he was known to have a circle of friends off campus.

Kenneth shattered the glass from the Elliott University Center-facing window, near the elevators, on the ninth floor of the Jackson Library tower around 1:00 am, Monday November 22, 1982 and jumped to his death. His body was discovered by custodian, William Peters, who found Kenneth asleep on a sofa on the seventh floor of the tower shortly after midnight. Kenneth awoke and spoke for a few minutes with Peters until he excused himself to go to the restroom. It was not until Peters went to the ninth floor that he found the broken window and looked out to see Kenneth’s body lying below.

The Carolinian and the News and Record described Kenneth as being psychologically ill, in addition to being stressed from financial problems. In the three sentence announcement of Kenneth’s suicide that was published in The Carolinian ten days after his death, the writer mentions that Kenneth “…was under doctor’s care for apparent emotional problems.”[3] The News and Record provides more detail, reporting that Kenneth’s father said his son was being treated for psychiatric problems and that Kenneth was worried about being able to afford remaining enrolled at UNCG because of money issues.[4]

The Student Government Association Senate requested additional funds from the state to support UNCG’s Counseling Center after Kenneth’s death. The idea for the resolution was submitted by Pat Richardson, the senator for Strong Dormitory.[5] Interestingly, although the media portrayed Kenneth’s suicide as being the result of some form of psychiatric disorder that could have been treated through counseling, Rev. Joseph Flora (pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro and faculty sponsor for the Gay Student Union), asserted in an article responding to the initiative to improve the counseling center after Kenneth’s death, “Yes, we definitely need more staff for our counseling and testing center… Yet, we must be aware that the death of Kenneth Crump was not related to this problem.”[6]

In the “Letters to the Editor” section of the issue of The Carolinian mentioning Kenneth’s death, Lesa Y. Williams, a UNCG student and friend of Kenneth, asserted that the reason for Kenneth’s despondency and consequent suicide was that he was being bullied by residents of Strong Dormitory for being gay. She stated, “He lived in Strong dorm and some of the guys who stay there were glad that Kenneth was dead! Kenneth’s sexual preference was different from theirs, so they were delighted that he had jumped from the library.”[7] Presumably in protest of Williams’ perspective (as it does not specifically mention Kenneth or a suicide), the letter immediately following was signed by a list of male residents from Strong Dormitory and maintained, “We do not live in ‘Hell Dorm.’ We haven’t lived there for years. We appreciate publicity as well as good fiction. We do not care for lies, liars, exaggeration, innuendos or muckraking journalism. This is the word of one hundred good men.”[8]

From 1979 through the early 1980s, Strong Dormitory held a reputation as an unsafe residence hall for LGBTQ+ students. Only three years prior to Kenneth’s death, the dormitory was the site of a hundred person protest during which masked students setting off firecrackers gathered in the courtyard in front of the residence hall, waving protest posters, and shouting slogans such as, “Queers, Fags Go Home,” “We Are Men, We Are Men, We Are Men,” and “Dames Not Flakes.” The protest was held because the graduate counselor for Strong Dormitory, concerned about repeated reports of homophobic harassment in the dormitory, organized an educational seminar focusing on homosexuality for students. One of the two speakers at this seminar, titled “Homosexuality and Society,” was Rev. Joseph Flora.

Tragically, little memory remains of Kenneth Crump on the UNCG campus, aside from the whispers one hears that someone may or may not have committed suicide by jumping off the Jackson Library tower. The only memorial to Kenneth’s life or death on this campus are the thick, wooden rails blocking the plexiglas windows of the Jackson Library tower.




[1] Allen, Leslie and Mark MacDonald. “Student, 21, Dead after Fall from Library,” Greensboro News and Record. November 23, 1982, p. A2.
[2] Allen, Leslie and Mark MacDonald. “Student, 21, Dead after Fall from Library,” Greensboro News and Record. November 23, 1982, p. A2.
[3] “Student Jumps from Library,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.1.
[4] Allen, Leslie and Mark MacDonald. “Student, 21, Dead after Fall from Library,” Greensboro News and Record. November 23, 1982, p. A1.
[5] Alexander, David. “Senate Seeks Finds for Counseling,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.1.
[6] Flora, Joseph and Jon Hensley. “Something to Be Learned,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.2.
[7] Williams, Lesa Y. “Letters to the Editor,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.2.
[8] One Hundred Good Men. “Letters to the Editor,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.2

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gertrude Mendenhall: A Woman of Substance

By all accounts, Gertrude Mendenhall (1861 – 1926) was a shy, retiring soul who dedicated her career to teaching mathematics to young women. Yet on further inspection, “Gertie,” as she was known to her friends, proves to be a progressive and highly social woman, in possession of a keen mind and a dry and intelligent wit.
Gertrude Mendenhall, ca. 1892

Mendenhall was a member of a well-respected Quaker family that had lived in Guilford county for five generations. She grew up with her three sisters on the grounds of New Garden Boarding School (now Guilford College), where her father, Dr. Nereus Mendenhall, was a teacher and principal. After graduation, she pursued higher education at Wellesley College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree. Following in her father’s footsteps, she chose to enter the field of education. Mendenhall taught mathematics at Guilford College and at Peace College, where she met Charles Duncan McIver, future president of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG). When State Normal opened its doors in 1892, Mendenhall became a charter member of the faculty and was appointed the head of the Math Department.

Mendenhall (seated) picnicking with faculty members, 1898 

Mendenhall thrived in the academic environment of State Normal. She taught algebra, geometry, and trigonometry to the more advanced students, and helped remedial students with simple arithmetic. The young women in her charge appreciated her patience and determination in teaching a subject that was not one of the most popular in the school’s curriculum. Evalina Wiggins (Class of 1898) perhaps described it best when she explained that her experience in Mendenhall’s math class was “four years of happy misery, for I loved her and didn’t love math.”

Mendenhall (right) and other faculty members in front of Green Cottage
Her “Green Cottage,” located on Spring Garden Street, was a hub of both students and faculty seeking good company and a bite to eat. The cottage was always full of students enjoying her famous tea parties and picnics and faculty paying social visits or attending receptions. In the early days of campus life, the small ratio of student to faculty created close relationships and frequent social interactions. Her students simply adored her. She was known not only as a wise counselor and dear friend, but also for her distinctive appearance. She had a very erect posture and her standard attire, which was a “veritable part of our everyday Miss Mendenhall,” included a crisp white shirt, a white or brown tie, and a brown skirt.

After a tenure of over thirty years at the college, Mendenhall quietly passed away on the morning of April 15, 1926. College president Julius Foust cancelled all classes and a small funeral service was held in her home.  The day afterward, she was laid to rest at the Deep River Friends Meeting House Cemetery.

Mendenhall (left) and Dr. Anna Gove on the porch of Green Cottage

At her funeral service, Rev. R. Murphy Williams, who had been a long-time friend, gave a tribute that captures her very nature, describing her as “gentle yet strong, modest yet courageous, in everything that was for the upbuilding of our state. She has influenced thousands of young women and given them vision of service which they are transmitting into other lives in the school rooms and in the homes, all over our southland.” J.  Y. Joyner, who had known Mendenhall since the first days of the college, later wrote that she was “one of the choicest spirits, strongest minds, most lovable characters, [and] sweetest influences in that first little faculty…”

Mendenhall was convinced that every young woman could master some level of mathematics, and typical of a woman who “practiced what she preached,” she left money in her will to establish a merit and needs based scholarship which would provide students with the means to pursue a degree in higher math and the applied sciences. Typical of her modest nature, she named the scholarship for her aunt, Judith J. Mendenhall. This scholarship is still active and provides financial assistance to students who are pursuing a degree in math.

Ragsdale-Mendenhall Residence Hall

Although immediately after her death, former students asked that a “prominent building” be named for her to “express our love for and gratitude to Miss Mendenhall,” it was not until 1950 that a campus dormitory was named for her. Known as the Ragsdale-Mendenhall Residence Hall, the naming honor is shared with Virginia Ragsdale, Department of Mathematics faculty from 1911 to 1928, and the third faculty member to hold a PhD degree.

Monday, March 20, 2017

“Building a New Society:” The Beginning of the Women’s Liberation Movement on Campus

Objecting to discriminatory societal trends, the late 1960s saw women across the nation form groups to expand their perspective on gender roles as well as political, economic, and social equality. UNCG female students also began to unite, establishing their own campus Women’s Liberation group, with the goal of identifying and finding solutions to “their common problems as women in this society.”  They saw women’s liberation as a problem “closely related and interlocked with the other problems in the country, the very problem of war itself…that we cannot hope to move toward a better world or even a truly democratic society at home until we begin to solve our own problems.”

"Woman Power" symbol, Carolinian March 6, 1970

On March 3 1970, at a meeting focusing on “Woman Power,” the students challenged the social pressures to “dress the right way (fashionable in clothes) and date the right boys (socially acceptable).” They also questioned the preconceived standards that forced women’s main goal to be “to catch a husband, so you can get married, have babies, cook, clean, and do house work while you stagnate intellectually and your husband wonders why you aren’t interesting to talk to anymore.” No longer were young women satisfied with limited life options. They wanted fair treatment on campus and beyond college graduation.

Feiffer Cartoon, Carolinian March 13, 1971

Several weeks after the “Woman Power” meeting, a two-day Women’s Rights Symposium was held with a full schedule of discussions on women’s liberation, movies relating to women’s rights, and workshops on topics such as male chauvinism. Featured presenters included members of the national Women’s Liberation Movement, such as Florence Kennedy, who was the legal advisor of the chapter from New York. Some speakers advocated taking a hard line, explaining that it was “morally wrong to waste the potential women have in merely being wives and mothers.” Others pointed out prevalent anti-feminist word choices, such as human and mankind. Roxanne Dunbar, a representative of the Southern Female Rights Union, suggested a mass movement against “our personal male oppressors.” Campus organizations, such as the Political Economy Club, also sponsored a speaker during the Symposium, focusing on “The Economic Discrimination Against Women.” Interestingly, many of the speeches and workshops were poorly attended. Out of almost 5,000 women students attending the college during spring 1970, only approximately fifty students attended the event. Male students were not allowed. In some cases, local newspaper coverage was cynical.

From an International Women's Day Flyer, 1971

In these early years of the campus Women’s Liberation Movement, some students felt like change might be coming too fast. An editorial in November 1970 campus newspaper took up for the “silent majority” who believed that a woman’s place [was] still in the home,” and encouraged women to find fulfillment as wives and mothers. Other editorials scoffed at the popular image of liberated women as “bra- burning” militants, and called for a broader view of the Movement.  These conflicting views are illustrated in campus publications such as the October 1971 Carolinian, which ran an ad for engagement rings (with the catchphrase, “When you know it’s for keeps”) next to an advertisement for abortions.

In 1972, students who were continuing to advocate equality for women in all sectors, were sometimes surprised at the apathy of their classmates. A January 1972 column in the Carolinian, written to promote discourse on women’s issues, called for students to join interest groups to continue to define “what women want.” The author was discouraged to find most of the responses from her articles were from men.
Carolinian, January 1972
Yet, even though some students thought the progression of women’s rights was moving too slowly, there were changes happening on campus. In the fall 1973 semester, UNCG instigated a women’s studies curriculum offering four courses -  Women in American History, Women in Literature, Women and Economic Activity and Women in Politics. The classes were open to both women and men.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Annie Petty, State Normal's First Librarian

The library room in the Administration Building, circa 1895
When State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) first opened its doors in October 1892, it did not have a library or library books. Yet, founding president Charles Duncan McIver spoke adamantly of the “Library we are to have,” and he personally donated many of his books to begin the school’s first reference collection. Other faculty members followed suit, donating or lending books from their personal libraries in order to create a collection for student use. The school’s book collection continued to grow, and, in 1896, Annie Florence Petty was hired as State Normal’s first librarian.

Petty grew up in a Quaker family in the Bush Hill community, which is now part of Archdale, NC. Both she and her sister Mary received an early education at the New Garden Boarding School (although Annie graduated in 1894 after the school had already changed its name to Guilford College). Mary, who also completed a degree at Wellesley College, was the first of the Petty sisters to start work at State Normal, teaching chemistry at the school from 1893 through 1934. After a brief period teaching school in Red Springs in Robeson County, NC, her sister Annie arrived at State Normal in 1896 to manage the school’s burgeoning library.

Petty (second row, seated in front of tennis racket)
with other members of the Faculty Tennis Club, 1900
At the time of Annie Petty's arrival, the State Normal's library contained around 600 volumes and was housed in a small room across from the President's office in the Administration (now Foust) Building. Although her official title was “librarian,” Petty did much more than manage the book and periodical collection. She also received and sorted the campus mail, signed for package deliveries, and rang the campus bell to signal the change of classes every forty minutes.

After two years, Petty took a year’s leave of absence to attend the Drexel Library School in Philadelphia, where she gained additional professional training and developed a particular interest in reference services. Advanced professional training for librarians was not commonplace at the time. When Petty returned to her position at State Normal in 1899, she was the first professionally-trained librarian employed in the state of North Carolina.

State Normal's Carnegie Library building, 1905
Petty continued to develop the school’s book and periodical collection, and a dedicated library building was secured in 1905 when philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provided State Normal with a $25,000 grant to construct a campus library building (now known as the Forney Building). This was the first Carnegie grant to be given to construct a college library. Petty, her assistant, and a number of student workers continued to grow the collection and make the library a campus hub.

In addition to her work on campus, Petty was active professionally in the North Carolina Library Association (NCLA). She was a founding member of NCLA’s executive committee in 1904, and in 1908 she was elected as only the second president in the organization’s history. She served an additional presidential term from 1913-1915. She was also the first secretary of the North Carolina Friends Historical Society.

Mary and Annie (standing) Petty, 1952
In 1921, Petty left Greensboro for Raleigh, taking a position as Assistant Secretary of the State Library Commission. She continued her interest in reference librarianship, and was proud to be able to serve readers in her home county of Randolph by developing the state’s first traveling bookmobile. Petty remained at the State Library Commission for twelve years until her retirement. In 1933, she returned to Greensboro, where she shared a home with her sister Mary (who passed away in 1958).

After a long and successful career spent building libraries and library collections at State Normal and across the State of North Carolina, Annie Petty died in 1962 following surgery for a broken hip. She was 91 years old.