Monday, November 23, 2015

Spotlight on WC Alumna and American Red Cross Worker, Emily Harris Preyer (Class of 1939)

Emily Irving Harris Preyer was born in Reidsville, NC in 1919 and grew up in Greensboro. Preyer attended Greensboro Senior High School (now Grimsley High School) and then went on to the Woman's College (WC) of the University of North Carolina (now UNC Greensboro). While at the WC she double majored in English and French and was a member of several campus organizations including president of the Student Government Association.

1939 Pine Needles
For the first three years at the WC, Preyer was a Town Student (now called Commuter) because her family could not afford the cost to live on campus.

In 1939, Preyer’s senior year, The Dean of Women Harriet Elliot brought her friend First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to campus. In this excerpt from her Oral History, Emily Preyer discusses her encounter with Roosevelt. "I was president of the student government, so—Dr. [Walter Clinton] Jackson lived right there on campus, and so he had a—Miss Elliott had a tea for her, and I never will forget Mrs. Roosevelt came down and we were all so excited. I had somebody from every class saying I was pouring the tea, and I said, "Mrs. Roosevelt, will you have tea or coffee?" And she said, “Well, honey, I’ll have it in my cup, whatever,” because I was pouring it right on the silver tray. Oh, she was a wonderful lady, Mrs. Roosevelt."

College Judicial Board, 1939 Pine Needles yearbook
In addition to being president of the Student Government Association, Preyer was the Dance Chairman for the Adelphian Society, Chairman of the Honor Board, Class Cheerleader, Le Circle Francais member, Clogging Club, Town Student’s Board member, May Day Court, Young Democrats Club, College Judicial Board, and the Carolinian Business Staff. Preyer was also a participant in various sports such as Tennis and Basketball, as well as other organizations and honors.

In 1943, Preyer joined the American Red Cross. She chose the Red Cross over the Navy WAVES or the Army WAC because the training time was only two weeks. Preyer was stationed in Perth and Brisbane, Australia and Subic Bay, Philippines.

Preyer in her Red Cross uniform
Preyer talks about her time in Australia with the Red Cross: "Perth and Western Australia was the most beautiful place. We had the cutest little house on a lake, and it was called the Swan Lake because Perth is the only place in the world that has black swans. So we called our Red Cross club the “Swan Dive,” and they could come in and dance and do whatever they’d want to, and we’d write letters for them. Then when they would be sent to the hospitals in Perth we would go and write letters. We weren’t nurses, but we did whatever the nurses asked us to do…We went to the hospitals and did everything we could for those boys. I mean, we learned to do bandages and all. We weren’t trained nurses, but we learned to do, anything to comfort them and help them get well."

Fremantle Submarine Base was near Perth and the Red Cross worked with many of the enlisted submariners.

"They [U.S. Navy submariners] called me 'the Rebel.' This boy that was on a submarine said, 'Rebel, you know what? You always make me feel homesick because I lived up in Maine, and every winter when the wild geese were flying over my house going south for the winter, they’d go 'Waah! Waah! Waah!' and you just remind me of those geese.' And of course they just kidded me about my twang till I could scream."

Emily Preyer and her husband in the 1975 Alumni News
Preyer remained in Perth with the Red Cross until 1945. After her return to the United States, she married the Honorable L. Richardson Preyer, U.S. Congressman and Federal judge. Their eldest son joined the Peace Corps in the 1970s and her daughter worked with the VISTA program. Through the rest of her life, Preyer continued to work with the Greensboro Chapter of the American Red Cross and served the Triad Community in various ways. From 1955-57, Preyer also served as President of the WC Alumnae Association. In 1998, Preyer was awarded the North Carolina Award in Public Service, the state's highest honor, in recognition for her leadership and philanthropy in Greensboro. Emily Irving Harris Preyer passed away in December 1999.

Learn more about Emily Preyer and other women who served in the American Red Cross and the United States Armed Forces at the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project.

This story was written by Sara Maeve Whisnant, a student in the Master's in Library and Information Studies program at UNCG. Sara Maeve has worked with the Women Veterans Historical Project as a student assistant since 2014.

Monday, November 16, 2015

100 Years Ago: Campus Life in 1915

On Saturday, September 18, 1915, the 702 students enrolled at the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG) gathered in the auditorium of the Students' Building to kick off the new academic year with "College Night." Representatives from the Senior Class as well as the Young Women's Christian Organization (YWCA) spoke, and, according to State Normal Magazine, "the various college organizations gave 'stunts' which showed the new girls in every unique and mirth-provoking manner something of the different phases of college life."

Students' Building in 1915. The building was razed in 1950,
but the cornerstone remains visible on College Avenue, in front of the EUC.
Only a few weeks later, the College celebrated Founder's Day with wreaths of flowers and tributes from the College and the Senior Class taken to the grave of founding president Charles Duncan McIver by four faculty members remaining from the opening of the school just 23 years before. Flowers were also placed at the grave of the school's first Lady Principal, Sue May Kirkland, who had died the previous year.

And only two days after Founder's Day, the campus received a high-profile guest when William Jennings Bryan, a politician and a close friend of McIver's, made a short stop at State Normal. He briefly spoke with the students in the dining hall during their dinner time, discussing his shared grief at the loss of McIver nine years prior. As State Normal Magazine noted, he also "made a few remarks, embodying the ideals of Dr. McIver - and of every great man - leaving with us the stimulating thought that life holds for us, with interest, just what we put into it."

The excitement over the initial weeks of school in 1915 continued throughout the academic year as students participated in debates, dramatic presentations, and other events as part of the campus literary societies. As the course bulletin from the 1915-1916 academic year noted, "students should breathe an atmosphere that will promote growth." The campus administrators and students promoted growth by bringing in numerous speakers and performers covering a wide range of subject matter.

Members of State Normal's YWCA at an annual retreat
in Western North Carolina
Women's suffrage was a major point of debate and advocacy for the State Normal students on campus one hundred years ago. In Spring 1915, 250 students participated in a march during their regular afternoon “walking period.” This march, led by members of the orchestra and girls with makeshift instruments, paraded down College Avenue with “Votes for Women” banners flying high. The protest ended at Spencer Dormitory where the girls listened to speeches on women’s rights given by their fellow students. At the 1915 commencement ceremony in June, students refused to applaud the speaker, Governor Locke Craig, because he spoke against women’s suffrage. It was only after Governor Craig conceded that he would support women’s right to vote if that is what they desired, that he received a positive response from his audience. Another speaker that year suggested that women leave the vote to men. As a result, the students created an effigy of the unfortunate legislator and burned it in Peabody Park. Also, a suffrage group, thought to be the first of its kind in the South, was formed on campus.

Sophomore class giving a performance on
the Athletic Fields (where Petty Building sits today)
Interestingly, in the November 1915 State Normal Magazine, we also see a refrain still echoing on campus today. In a piece titled "College Spirit," Louise Winston Goodwin wrote, "What is it that makes an inter-university foot ball game so interesting? College spirit! Of course, we don't have the opportunity to fight on inter-collegiate gridirons. But we do have athletics, and athletics should be a very potent factor in our campus life. Even if you don't 'go into training' on your team, you can throw yourself into your team practice - always be there, always play your hardest. If you don't play, you belong on the side lines, giving your interest, your enthusiasm to liven up the game." That sense of spirit was on display in the annual campus basketball tournament, held in November, with the championship game played on Thanksgiving afternoon. For the first time ever, the Freshman class took the championship, with a member of the Senior class noting in State Normal Magazine that "those Freshmen weren't as green as they thought or we thought they were."

Monday, November 9, 2015

Margaret Gash (Class of 1895): Chief Cataloguer, Metropolitan Museum of Art

This week's story focuses on an early graduate of the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG), Ms. Margaret Gash. Margaret Avery Gash of Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, was one of State Normal's earliest graduates, having earned her degree in 1895. According to the Graduation Excercises booklet fro 1895, her graduate thesis was titled, "The Development of Woman's Educational Ideals." Indeed, Ms. Gash tried to form a career in teaching after graduating from the State Normal, but she did not find much success in her first career choice. In an article published in the 1943 edition of Alumnae News, Gash states humbly, "...the teaching profession, for some reason unknown to me, seemed perfectly able to dispense with my services." Fortunately for Ms. Gash, "the Library world to which I next turned was kinder." After she left the teaching profession, she attended Pratt Institute Library School in Brooklyn, New York and gained her Certificate in 1900. At some point she also attended Melvil Dewey's Albany Library School. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he's the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System! Thereafter she worked in public libraries until she got a job offer at an institution at which she would serve for the rest of her career.

Margaret Gash at work, Metropolitan Museum of Art, early 1940s

Ms. Gash began working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1906. She was tasked with organizing, cataloging, and indexing a mountain of correspondence, reports, minute books, wills, and contracts connected both with the history of the institution and its collections of art. She helped to devise a system of cataloging objects which would prove helpful to the museum in the same way a catalog of books is to a library. This "experiment" as Gash called it, began with her working on it part time, then full time, then she gained an assistant, and then finally she ended up with a group of five to six assistants working under her. With the years, her experience grew, and her final title when she retired was Chief Cataloguer. Ms. Gash retired in 1945, having worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 39 years.

Ms. Gash's work has been cited in articles on librarianship and museum collections, ranging in date from 1970 to 2014. The work she performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was part of a ground-breaking effort to systematically record holdings and information related to objects in museum-like settings. All this occurred at a time when modern library science was in its early years, as Melvil Dewey had opened the first library science school in America at Columbia University in 1887. Margaret Avery Gash passed away on September 9, 1950 in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Many Legacies of Maude Fuller Broadaway

Although Maude Broadaway (1868-1934) was only on our campus for a short time, she has captured the imagination of the archivists at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). She has been included in several Spartan Stories blogs, and is spoken of as if she would walk through the door at any minute. Perhaps, it is the photograph of Maude in her full gymnasium outfit, Indian Clubs at her feet, as she looks winsomely into the distance. Or, maybe it’s the fact that she was one of the college’s earliest students and included in the first graduating class of what was then the State Normal and Industrial School. Also, it could be because in her first and only year at the fledgling college, she was instrumental in developing the early physical education program. Whatever the reason, Maude has made a lasting impression on those who know her story.

Maude Fuller Broadaway
A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Maude spent her initial college years at Salem Academy (now Salem College). She taught for several years in the Winston Public School System, and it was there that she met Charles Duncan McIver, a principal in a Winston public high school. McIver later founded the State Normal and Industrial School, and Maude enrolled immediately to seek further coursework and experience in pedagogy. Although Maude was officially a student, she also acted as a teacher’s assistant, and worked closely with the first college physician, Dr. Miriam Bitting, who was also the head of the Department of Physiology and Health. During the early years of the school, the department’s main objective was to instruct students in basic hygiene.

Maude Broadaway, Director of the Gymnasium, 1892

But after one short year and so many accomplishments, she graduated with the rest of her class in May of 1893. Maude was asked to give one of the few student presentations at commencement – she spoke on her class’s history. Dr. McIver handed her a diploma, and she went out into the world. But, her story did not end there. Maude assisted with this endeavor and helped the professors create a personalized exercise program for each student, concentrating on posture and movement.  Often described as high-spirited and energetic, Maude eventually became the director of the gymnasium, which was located in the Main Building (now the Foust Building). It was here that the girls were trained to work with weights, clubs, and a vault. Maude also taught the students how to design exercise programs that could be easily translated into the classroom, as many of the State Normal students were studying to become teachers.

After graduating from the State Normal, Maude continued to shine. Like many girls of her time, she married early. Only a year after graduation, she wed Dr. Edward McKee Goodwin and moved to Morganton, North Carolina. Goodwin’s energy and intelligence seemed to match her own. He was a strong advocate for education for women and had been on the original board of directors for establishing the State Normal and Industrial School. Goodwin was also instrumental in founding the North Carolina School for the Deaf. Maude not only assisted her husband with his work with the Deaf School, she also took on many of her own projects. She was heavily involved with foreign missionary work, and spent twenty-four years as an officer with the Women’s Missionary Conference.

The First Graduating Class of State Normal, Maude is front row center

Her interest in education continued as well, and she became dedicated to establishing a public library in Morganton. She was known to have a large private library, and her interest in books was considerable. Morgan’s early library consisted of a closet in the post office before it moved into a small room in the Town Hall. Realizing that Morganton had a need of a true library, Maude founded the library association in 1923, and became president. She was responsible for keeping the struggling organization afloat during the early years, including making large personal donations to the cause. Finally, a one room library was established in 1923, with the hope of one day, having an actual library building to contribute to the intellectual life of the town. Sadly, she did not live to see this library open in October of 1935 as she died of pneumonia on June 2, 1934. Maude left a strong legacy behind – at her college, in Morganton, and with her four daughters, who followed in their mother’s footsteps, all attending The North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG).

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Development of the Weatherspoon Art Museum: Bridging Art and Education

Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon
Elizabeth "Lizzie" McIver enrolled at the State Normal and Industrial School at its opening in October 1892. She was the younger sister of the school's founding president Charles Duncan McIver. In fact, one of the drivers that led McIver to advocate for State Normal was the lack of reasonably priced institutions in North Carolina for Lizzie to continue her education after completing studies at Peace Institute in Raleigh (where her brother worked prior to the opening of State Normal). After completing a year at State Normal, Lizzie taught in the Greensboro city schools until 1900, when she marries James R. Weatherspoon of Sanford, NC. When her husband died four years after their marriage, however, she returned to Greensboro and teaching.

She served as a supervisor of the first grade classes at the Curry School, the teaching school on the State Normal campus. Mrs. Weatherspoon's abiding love, however, was art. While at Curry, she taught private classes in art. And, in 1906, she officially joined the State Normal faculty as an art instructor, focusing on art education for elementary school teachers. She was also a charter member and the first president of the art division of the North Carolina Education Association.

Mrs. Weatherspoon was also a strong advocate for the establishment of a Department of Art at State Normal. Finally in 1935, she saw that dream come true, and she was named an associate professor in the new department. Four years later, however, on May 25, 1939, Mrs. Weatherspoon passed away at her home on Tate Street after an extended illness.

The year following Mrs. Weatherspoon's death, the art department moved into its new home in the McIver Memorial Building. A small gallery space was opened in the building, and, in 1941, the gallery was officially named the Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon Gallery.

One of the early exhibits in the Weatherspoon Art Gallery featured 24 lithograph prints showcasing modern English art. Reflecting Mrs. Weatherspoon's interest in art education for elementary school students as well as the art department's emphasis on the gallery as a teaching space, 10 of the 24 lithographs were specifically chosen because they were to appeal to children.

Weatherspoon Art Gallery space in the McIver Building
For the next 15 years, the Weatherspoon Gallery in the McIver Memorial Building featured a wide array of art from around the world. Exhibits included textiles, furniture, paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, and more. A particular emphasis was placed on contemporary art as well as the space as a source for the practice and teaching of art. A donation in 1950 of the million-dollar Cone Collection from sisters Etta and Claribel Cone of Baltimore, served as one of the gallery's earliest and most important acquisitions. This donation included six bronzes by Henri Matisse and over 100 works by Matisse, Picasso, and other modern French artists.

McIver Memorial was closed due to numerous building hazards and issues in 1956. But, the new McIver Building opened in 1960 and featured a special wing specifically constructed for the Weatherspoon Gallery.

The Weatherspoon Gallery continued to grow in its new location, collecting new pieces and building a large audience. In fact, when actor Vincent Price visited UNCG in 1977, his first request in the way of sightseeing was the Weatherspoon Art Gallery. In particular, he wanted to see one of the gallery's most valuable pieces, Willem de Kooning's "Woman," which Price declared to be "an asset to any gallery." He reportedly studied the painting for a full 10 minutes as part of his 90 minute behind-the-scenes gallery tour.

Director Ruth Beesch with de Kooning's "Woman"
By the late 1980s, however, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery had far outgrown its space in the McIver Building. In 1989, the Weatherspoon found its new (and current) home -- the Cone Building, named in honor of Anne Wortham Cone (Class of 1935) and her husband, Benjamin Cone, Sr. The $7.5 million building opened at the corner of Spring Garden and Tate Street and provided the Weatherspoon Art Gallery with nearly five times as much space as they had previously had in the McIver Building. Gallery director Ruth K. Beesch declared, "we've gone from rags to riches."

In 2001, the name of the Weatherspoon Art Gallery was changed to the Weatherspoon Art Museum to more adequately reflect its function and mission as the gallery had grown and expanded in size and scope. Today, the Museum continues to maintain a schedule of more than fifteen exhibitions each year as well as full roster of educational activities, publications, and outreach efforts.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Woman's College and the Burnsville School of Fine Arts

On July 21, 1947, the curtains opened on a new venture for the Woman's College - the Burnsville School of Drama. Running for six weeks in the North Carolina mountain town of Burnsville (about 40 miles northwest of Asheville), the school was a partnership between WC and Burnsville Playhouse, Inc., a local non-profit organization that managed ticket sales, marketing, and other details related to engaging the general public. WC faculty staffed the school, offering course credit in topics such as playwriting, play production, and acting. Burnsville locals also offered an old Burnsville High School gymnasium as a site for the theater, which was quickly remodeled to seat 400 guests (eventually renamed the Parkway Playhouse). They also provided housing to students and staff of the school in their private homes.

The view from the Burnsville School of Fine Arts, late 1940s
W. Raymond Taylor, a WC professor of drama who had long advocated for an art colony in western North Carolina, served as the school's director. In its first season, the School of Drama produced ten performances of three popular Broadway shows -- "Claudia," "Blithe Spirit," and "Our Town." Audience members came from across the United States and three foreign countries to see the performances. The school was placed on the approved list of summer stock theatre companies by the New York Times and The New Yorker magazine. Additionally, a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation was secured in 1948 to support the continued development of the school for the next four years. Seeing the school as "afford[ing] facilities for the training of veterans in the fine arts," the Veterans Administration provided additional support, and military veterans were allowed to attend the school with federal aid using the G.I. Bill.

Over the next four years, the curriculum expanded, and the school adopted a name more inclusive of the courses taught -- the Burnsville School of Fine Arts of the Woman's College. In addition to classes in theater and drama, students could take courses in art, creative writing, dance, education, and music. Men and women were both allowed to take classes, but enrollment in the drama program was strictly limited to fifty students.

In that time of initial development, however, some argued that Taylor's drama background meant that he, as the school's director, emphasized theater over the other parts of the curriculum. Ticket sales for dramatic performances also were lagging behind estimates. As a result, in 1952, leadership of the school was transferred to Gregory Ivy, head of WC's art department. At that time, the school was also recognized as a fully accrediting branch of the college, offering scholarships as well as undergraduate and graduate credit on the same basis as work completed during summer session on the Greensboro campus. Branches of the college library and bookstore were also established in Burnsville.

But these changes did not fully revive the school. In 1954, the school was moved from Burnsville to Beaufort on the North Carolina coast. WC had a marine biology program in Beaufort, and, before the establishment of the Burnsville School, Ivy had briefly led a "summer colony" in Beaufort that focused on "advanced landscape painting." But, the move to the coast wasn't enough to save the program. In 1955, Chancellor Edward Kidder Graham made the decision to terminate WC's connection to the school and the Playhouse.

Exterior of the Parkway Playhouse from the 1950s
For the next thirteen years, the University of Miami (Fla.) operated the playhouse. But in 1966, UNCG returned thanks in large part to a $25,000 appropriation from the North Carolina Legislature that paid for refurbishment of the buildings. Taylor was lured out of retirement to direct the return production, staging "Our Town," which had inaugurated the playhouse in 1947. But, once again, the playhouse ran a deficit and, by the 1980s, the building itself was again in need of massive repairs (including asbestos removal). In the 1990, the university once again terminated its affiliation with the school. The Parkway Playhouse, however, continues operations, producing shows featuring professional, semi-professional, volunteer and student actors.

This post is one in a series focused on the 2015 North Carolina Archives Month theme "Celebrating Archives: North Carolina Arts, Crafts, and Music Traditions." North Carolina Archives Month, celebrated each October, is an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities, and people.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Maud Gatewood: Southern Artist

Maud Gatewood's senior yearbook photograph, 1954
Maud Gatewood was born and raised in Yanceyville, North Carolina. Her mother encouraged her to take drawing classes at Averett College in Danville, Virginia. Her sketchbooks show dozens of drawing of her mother. Mostly, seated and probably drawn while the subject was unaware. Maud spent her youth drawing and sketching and in 1950 (at the tender age of 16), she came to UNCG. In 1954, she graduated from Woman’s College (now UNCG) with a Bachelor of Art in Art. She earned her Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University in 1955. Gatewood then spent the next several years teaching in Alabama, then Texas before earning a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria from 1962-1963. 1964 marked her return to the state with a position at UNC Charlotte teaching in the Creative Arts Department, where she taught for the next nine years. She was instrumental in developing the Creative Arts Department at UNCC. In 1975 she returned to Averett College, this time as a Professor in the Art Department where she worked for the next 20 years.

Gatewood passed away in 2004 from complications after a stroke. She received many awards and recognitions throughout her life, including first place awards in North Carolina Artists’ annual competitions, a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship, the Governor’s North Carolina Award in Fine Arts (1984), and the UNCG Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.  She received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from UNCG in 1999, where she was touted for her “uncommon artistic talents, [her] significant achievements as a daughter of the University, and for [her] dedication to the spirit of public service which [her] alma mater so steadfastly values.”

Gatewood was well known for saying little about her own paintings.  In a 1968 Charlotte News article, she stated, “I’ve got almost nothing to say.  I just paint pictures."  When asked about the subject matter of her art, she said, “What I’m trying to paint are relationships, formal relationships: light and color and forms.  There might be messages, but I think a lot of times painters know less about what their painting says than anybody else.”

Special Collections and University Archives has the Maud Gatewood Collection, which contains professional activities, correspondence, subject files, sketches, and sketchbooks.  Maud drew extensively, capturing the scenes and people around her as well as plotting out future paintings.  The sketches that would become paintings are recognizable by their placement within a sketched square box, like these sketches:
Preliminary drawing for Consuming Cause, c. 1990

Preliminary drawing for Ugly Saturday, c. 1989

An exhibit, Maud Gatewood: Sketches, is currently on display in the Hodges Reading Room of Jackson Library.  This exhibit is a part of the Maud Gatewood Trail, a series of exhibits of Maud Gatewood’s paintings across North Carolina and Virginia.  This Fall, eighteen sites will be mounting exhibits of Gatewood paintings.  More information can be found in this brochure:

This post is one in a series focused on the 2015 North Carolina Archives Month theme "Celebrating Archives: North Carolina Arts, Crafts, and Music Traditions." North Carolina Archives Month, celebrated each October, is an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities, and people.