Monday, October 5, 2015

Dark Shadows, Deep Closets: A LGBT History Month Special Post

When reflecting upon events that serve as vehicles for social consciousness, a library book display is unlikely to rate as an impactful medium to facilitate and stimulate dialogue relating to controversial topics. Such displays are passive and frequently overlooked. However, a book exhibit installed in Jackson Library, at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, launched the student body into a critical discussion relating to gender, sex, and ethnicity.

In Jackson Library, PRIDE!, the LGBTQ student organization on campus at the time, constructed a book display, featuring queer African American authors and entertainers in honor of Black History Month in February of 2002. The exhibit, titled “Dark Shadows, Deep Closets,” communicated the conflicts faced and achievements earned by LGBTQ individuals in the Black community. The display consisted of books from the library collection that focused on homosexuality and ethnicity, as well as contained photographs of significant queer figures in African American history. The exhibit counts as among the first public initiatives on the UNCG campus exploring the intersectionalities of race, sex, and gender.

The display immediately attracted attention. The library received over a dozen phone calls objecting to the exhibit within the first day. The officers of the Student Government Association were bombarded with so many complaints that there was fear PRIDE!’s funding was in jeopardy. The student newspaper, The Carolinian, devoted extensive coverage to the student body’s reactions to the exhibit and the evolution of the discussion, beginning with race, transferring to money, and ending with politics.

In the first week of the display, campus opinion very much focused on sexuality and race. Interviews in The Carolinian featured the opposing positions, revealing the struggles encountered by LGBTQ individuals in the African American community. A student protesting the display, stating “This is black history month and that’s something to be proud of… And gays ain’t something to be proud of.” A member of PRIDE! From Greensboro College (who is identified as a gay African American male) maintained, “We’re celebrating Black History month by showing people another side of it. I would never say anything derogatory about black American homosexuals…”

As discussion about the display and the role of PRIDE! as an organization continued throughout the month of February and into March, the subject matter transitioned from race and sexuality to that of money. The argument opposing the funding of PRIDE! with student fees has been debated for decades. Several students viewed the conflict brought about by the exhibit as an opportunity to revisit the issue. One student argued that, “relatively few students are concerned with issues relating to sexual orientation until they are brought up by groups like PRIDE!. So to say that we as students should pay for a group supporting an issue we are unconcerned about – I really don’t agree with this.”        

However, some students saw PRIDE! not as a student organization devoted to creating an inclusive campus environment for students of all sexualities and genders, but as a platform for spreading political ideology hiding behind a civil rights-oriented student organization. In a letter to the editor of The Carolinian, the most vocal opponent against PRIDE!, Jason Crawford, argued that “PRIDE uses the homosexual issue as a shield to insulate themselves from critics that might otherwise have something to say about their increasingly radical left-wing agenda.” Crawford maintained that PRIDE!’s support of “anti-war rallies” and establishment of “forums that question our government were initiatives intended to deliberately provoke politically conservative students. He called for the SGA designation of PRIDE! as a non-budgetary organization in order that student organizations be held to a high “standard of accountability. Therefore student groups that receive money from students should make reasonable effort to not offend significant numbers of students.”

In spite of vocal opposition, the story ends with the exhibit remaining in Jackson Library through the month, PRIDE! keeping its funding, and the launching of a much needed discussion relating to sexuality and gender in the campus community. This entire event took place during a time UNCG was introducing several initiatives to make the campus more inclusive for sex and gender diversity, including Safe Zone Ally training for staff and faculty and the inclusion of a statement of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation in the UNCG policy manual. Perhaps the greatest indication of progress can be viewed in that PRIDE! and University Libraries recreating the display for Black History Month in 2013 without any complaints. Who would thing a book display in the library could stir such progress? 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The College Archives Committee

Annual Report of the College Archives Committee
Prior to 1958, there was no organized method for acquiring and preserving the official records created by Woman’s College (now UNCG). The need and importance of establishing such a process was brought to the administration’s attention in August 1956 in a letter from A.F. Kuhlman, Chairman of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, and E.C. Roberts, Director of the Southeastern Interlibrary Research Facility. In their letter, they noted that as colleges became more decentralized, “it becomes increasingly important that there be a central depository and an archival program for the official records of an institution.” They went on to explain that “only by a systematic program of collection and preservation of the publications and records of an institution can the full and true story of that institution’s development and endeavors be recorded.” The letter closes with a recommendation for the college to assume this responsibility and to start saving their history. However, it would be two more years before the school took any official action.

In the fall of 1957, North Carolina State Archivist, H.G. Jones, was invited to the campus to survey the archives. He was not happy with the current conditions of the archives as he “looked with considerable scorn” upon the cases that housed the archival materials in the Forney Building and Library Building. Following his visit, Jones wrote a letter to Chancellor Gordon W. Blackwell, giving detailed advice on some immediate and long term problems facing the college archives.

Charles Adams, 1951
In response to these recommendations, Chancellor Blackwell appointed current Librarian, Charles M. Adams, as the new Archivist, and Marjorie Hood as the Assistant Archivist.  In addition, he established the College Archives Committee in January 1958, whose charge was “to advise the College Archivist concerning selection of materials for the archives, proper housing of the archives, and other pertinent matters.” Other members of the committee, along with Adams and Hood, included history professors Richard Current and Blackwell Robinson. In May 1958, the committee traveled to Raleigh to study the state archives and ask for further advice on proper storage and care of archival materials.  One of the first priorities of the committee was transferring records located in the basement storage vault of the Forney Building to the Library Building as excessive temperature and humidity threatened to damage the materials.

The work of the College Archives Committee was the first step in developing an institutional records management program with the aim of preserving the history of the college.  Today, the University Archives continues to collect and maintain the documents and records, both physically and digitally, relevant to the history of UNCG.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Nanette Jackson Minor - UNCG Alumnae and Miss North Carolina, 1967

Nanette Jackson Minor, Class of 1965
With the recent Miss America pageant currently in the news, it seemed like a good time to feature one of our own alumnae who competed for the title. Although she did not become Miss America, Nanette Jackson Minor proudly represented her state and her alma mater in the 1966 pageant held in Atlantic City.

In July of that year, Nanette, a University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) music major, won the coveted Miss North Carolina crown. She competed against over ninety-eight contestants, and won the state title featuring her strong singing voice and expertise on the piano. Nanette had a substantial background in music beyond her coursework, including a university USO tour of Caribbean military bases and sixteen years of piano training.  In addition to her musical ability, she was popular among her classmates, being elected as freshman class cheerleader and UNCG Pine Needles yearbook “Senior Beauty.”

Nanette as UNCG Senior Class Beauty, 1965

As Miss North Carolina, Nanette made over twenty-three personal appearances throughout the state, covering over 3,600 miles. Fortunately, as a perk of her pageant win, she had been given a new wardrobe by Cone Mills, created especially for her by local designers. A Greensboro Daily News article titled, “Cone Dresses Miss North Carolina,” featured Nanette in various Cone Mills fashions posing in different locations on the UNCG campus. Because “rosy pink” was her favorite color, most of the outfits were in assorted shades of that color.

The year after her duties as Miss North Carolina ceased, she married Richard Holder Godwin, and settled in Charlotte. Yet, Nanette’s interest in music, modeling, and pageants continued during the years after her graduation. She became an active choir member and organist in her church, worked with pageant contestants on etiquette and charm, and started a business focusing on wedding planning. 

This floral stretch denim rain dress was designed especially for Nanette. It features a v-neck with a bow and a sleeveless plastic coat. It also had a matching stretch denim hat.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Eduard Lindeman, Julius Foust, and the Ku Klux Klan

On February 16, 1922, President Julius Foust was sent a letter from unidentified members of "Gate City Klan #19" in which they "respectfully refer to your worthy attention on Professor E.C. Lindeman, who is a member of your faculty." Specifically, the Ku Klux Klan members were reporting to Foust that "this party recently gave a social function in his home to negroes in spite of the requests not to do so." The letter continued that "such actions as he has displayed in your institution are not in keeping with our local and southern customs, to say nothing of the fact that a man of such influences is not entirely appropriate in a Christian institution." They asked that Foust immediately fire Lindeman.

Lindeman in 1938,
photo courtesy University of Kentucky Special Collections
Eduard C. Lindeman had been hired by Foust in 1919 as head of the sociology and economics department at the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG). Lindeman was a native of St. Clair, Michigan, a graduate of Michigan State University, and a highly regarded scholar of urban sociology and social research methods. Under his direction, the department supplemented its existing courses on rural social problems with courses on social institutions, social and community organization, and social psychology. He was also very active in national and regional professional organizations, serving as secretary and newsletter editor of the American Country Life Association. He was also considered (although not selected) for the position of state commissioner of public welfare in 1920.

But, Lindeman soon faced issues that would impact his position at NCCW. On May 16, 1921, President Foust was sent an anonymous letter from someone who had attended a talk by Lindeman at West Market Street Methodist Church. The letter writer expressed concern that Lindeman "put his interest in the rising generation almost above everything, even his love for Jesus Christ." The writer argued that "the church as we know it is of little consequence to him [Lindeman]." The letter concludes with an assessment that Lindeman's "teaching may work hard instead of good." Foust forwarded the letter to Lindeman to ask for explanation, and Lindeman responded that the letter was "such an unfair estimate of what I said that I do not care to discuss it without knowing the writer."

Less than a year later, Foust received the letter from the local Klan about his "social function." Lindeman wrote a formal statement of the events of the party to clarify the situation for Foust. His wife learned that their cook was planning a birthday party for 19 people in her one-room quarters in the basement, an area ill-equipped for a party of that size. Mrs. Lindeman suggested that she use one of the back rooms in the main portion of the house for the party. The cook then discussed the party with a friend, a cook in another Greensboro home, on the telephone. Lindeman reported that he did not know "what was said in this telephone conversation, but evidently the cook who received the information seemed to regard it as most unusual that Mrs. Lindeman would allow colored people in the up-stairs portion of the house, and she evidently conveyed this information to other white persons." Before Mr. Lindeman arrived home at 5pm that day, Mrs. Lindeman had already received "several telephone calls, a call in person by two men who claimed to be representatives of a daily paper, et cetera."
Letter to Foust from "Gate City Klan #19," February 16, 1922

The cook actually had fewer guests than expected at her party, and they remained in her quarters in the basement. But the rumors persisted and spread across campus and through Greensboro. A reporter called the Lindeman home. Foust called Lindeman into a meeting. And then the letter was received from the local Klan. By this point, Lindeman noted, the rumor "had reached such proportions that it was being said that Mrs. Lindeman had invited the persons who attended the party, that she had provided the refreshments, that the attendants came to the main portion of the house, that she had been warned not to hold the party, and even that she herself had played bridge with the colored persons present."

The rumors didn't stop, and Lindeman felt that Foust and the college were not publicly supporting him in the matter. On April 4, 1922, Lindeman wrote to Foust that "during the past several weeks, I have been definitely considering the problem of severing my connection with the College." He asked that Foust accept his resignation, effective at the end of the academic year.

Foust forwarded Lindeman's resignation to the Board of Directors for consideration at their next meeting. In an April 21, 1922, letter to Judge J.D. Murphy of Asheville, Foust wrote that "Lindeman is an exceedingly brilliant man, but it lacking in good judgement. He could have been a wonderful asset to the college if he had only exercised a reasonable amount of good common sense." He also noted that he had "heard nothing from the KKK and assume that these parties have dropped the matter. I have of course said nothing except when I was forced to do so."

Yet, Lindeman's resignation sparked local media to question whether or not the Klan was influencing administrative decisions at NCCW. Foust blanched at reporters' suggestions that he was allowing "the Ku Klux Klan to dictate the policy of this college." He did, however, place the blame for the incident solely at the feet of Lindeman. In a letter to C.H. Mebane on May 10, 1922, Foust wrote that, after receiving the letter from the KKK, his "position at the time was to treat the whole incident with silent indifference, because any publicity given it is really advertising the Klan." He noted, "I thought everything would pass off quietly, but Lindeman simply cannot refrain from talking."

On May 31, 1922, the Board of Directors issued a statement noting that Lindeman's resignation "was done voluntarily." They also stated "emphatically" that the Ku Klux Klan "had absolutely nothing to do with Professor Lindeman's resignation or its acceptance." The Board reiterated its support of "the position of President Foust, who has repeatedly stated publicly and privately that the authorities of the college had not been and will not be influenced in any manner by the Klan or any such organization."

After leaving NCCW, Lindeman continued his work, first serving as a freelance reporter and then, in 1924, becoming professor of social philosophy at the New York School of Social Work. Lindeman continued his work in areas of adult education, community organization, group work, and labor management problems. He even earned the attention of the McCarthy committee for his "Democratic Christian Socialist social philosophy." He remained at the New York School of Social Work until his retirement in 1950. He died three years later, on April 13, 1953. Reportedly, on his last day alive, he said, "This is a beautiful country. Don’t let McCarthy spoil it."

Monday, September 7, 2015

Odessa Patrick: First African American Academic Staff Member

Today's Spartan Stories post was written by Lucy Mason, a senior majoring in Economics and African American and African Diaspora Studies. Lucy worked as a researcher in University Archives during Summer 2015. Much of her research focused on the history of African American students and faculty/staff at UNCG.

Odessa Patrick received her B.S. in Biology from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (North Carolina A&T) in 1956. She was recommended to Dr. V.M. Cutter, head of the Biology Department at the Woman’s College (now UNCG), when he reached out to Dr. Artis P. Graves, head of Biology at North Carolina A&T, about hiring a laboratory preparator in January 1958.

Ms. Patrick became the first African American academic staff member at UNCG when she started work on February 1, 1958. Her duties included ordering materials, culturing live specimens, collecting materials in the field, setting up experiments and demonstrations for classrooms and supplying each lab with materials needed for specific exercises. In her third year at UNCG, Dr. Cutter recommended Ms. Patrick for promotion to faculty status. Dr. Cutter’s death and the search for a new department head however, ended the push for faculty status.

Understanding that in order to advance in her field she must complete an advanced degree, Ms. Patrick began working towards her M.A. taking classes at UNC Chapel Hill and UNCG while still working as a lab preparator. In 1969, she received her M.A. in Biology from UNCG and in the same year Dr. Bruce Eberhart made a recommendation to the dean that was accepted on the basis of merit and Ms. Patrick became a faculty member.

During her time as a teaching faculty, she taught principles of biology, vertebrate physiology lab, invertebrate zoology lab and mammalian anatomy. Ms. Patrick was also actively involved on campus serving as an academic advisor, faculty advisor, laboratory coordinator, graduate advisor for the Omicron Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and treasurer of the Black Faculty/Staff Association. She also received UNCG’s Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award (1991). In addition, she was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ms. Patrick retired on June 30, 1996 after 38 years of dedicated service to the UNCG community. She was also named an emerita faculty member in the Biology Department in 1996.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Death Mask of Charles Duncan McIver

Death mask of Charles Duncan McIver
On the morning of September 17, 1906, Charles Duncan McIver passed away from apoplexy at the age of 45, leaving behind a lasting legacy as the founder and first president of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG). Immediately following his death, Wells L. Brewer, a prominent Greensboro architect, designer, and sculptor, was commissioned to create a death mask of McIver. Arriving at the undertakers with his tools in hand, Brewer worked diligently for several hours taking detailed measurements of McIver’s features and sculpting the mask. Unlike typical death masks, which only take impressions of the face, a cast of McIver’s entire head was done in order for busts of him to be created at a later time.

The casting of a death mask was not an uncommon practice in the 18th and 19th century. Since the time of ancient Egypt, they have been used by portrait sculptors to create life-like replicas of an individuals. They were often valued as mementos of the dead. Several famous death masks include that of President Abraham Lincoln, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, scientist Sir Isaac Newton, and even movie director Alfred Hitchcock.

After McIver’s death, a committee was formed with the purpose of ensuring that his love and service to the school and education in the state of North Carolina was preserved in the form of a memorial statue. In 1909, Brewer sent the death mask to Frederick Wellington Ruckstuhl who had been commissioned to create the sculpture. Following the completion and dedication of the statue, Ruckstuhl maintained possession of the death mask until 1915, when he returned it to Edward K. Graham, President of the University at Chapel Hill. It was placed on display in the Peabody Educational Building for several years.

In March 1962, Dr. James W. Patron, Head of the Southern Historical Room in the University Library at Chapel Hill, wrote to Woman’s College (WC) Chancellor Otis Singletary, inquiring if he might be interested in obtaining McIver’s death mask. Following up on the query, WC Librarian Charles M. Adams happily accepted the offer and on May 22, 1962, he drove to Chapel Hill with Lula Martin McIver, the daughter of Dr. McIver, to retrieve the mask. Today, the death mask resides in the Special Collections and University Archives at UNCG where it has become a unique and popular oddity.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Rise and Fall of the McIver Memorial Building

After the Brick Dormitory fire of 1904, the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) constructed Spencer Residence Hall to serve as the primary residence for students at the school. Once the site of the former Brick Dormitory had been cleared, however, administrators set to work on a much-needed classroom building for the growing school. Until this point, the overwhelming majority of the classes (as well as all of the laboratories and campus offices) met in the Main Building (now Foust Building). Enrollment had more than doubled in the 12 years since the school opened its doors for students. Class offerings had expanded, and the need for more instructional space was apparent.

McIver Memorial Building postcard image, 1910
Administrators initially envisioned a large classroom building with a central core and two wings, bigger overall than the Main Building which sat next door. The construction budget, however, restricted them to the central core only. And in May 1908, the McIver Memorial Building -- named for the recently-deceased founding president of the school -- opened for use.

The McIver Memorial Building quickly became the hub of instructional activity on campus and served as the primary home for chemistry and many of the other science departments and their laboratories. Additions were made to the building over the years. The McIver Statue (which currently sits in front of Jackson Library) was added to the front of the building in 1912. Also, as originally planned by administrators, two wings were added -- an east wing in 1920 and a west wing in 1922.
McIver statue in front of McIver Memorial Building
But the building itself proved unsound rather quickly. By 1913, there were reports of faulty plastering in the building. As early as 1928, the central core of the building, then only 20 years old, was declared by Science Department head J.P. Givler to be both obsolete and a fire hazard. He referred to the electric wiring as "a patchwork of peril." A small fire in 1932 was caught early and caused little damage to the building itself.

While most of the science departments left the McIver Memorial Building in 1940 after the construction of the Petty Science Building, McIver was still heavily used by other academic departments, particularly liberal arts departments. Yet, a 1950 report from state engineers proclaimed that, while the timber frame and brick veneer of the building were sound, the structure itself was at high risk of fire. They reported that it would cost more to fireproof the building than to replace it altogether.

The biggest blow to the McIver Memorial Building, however, came in February 1956 with a partial collapse of a plaster ceiling in Room 215, one of the heavily used classrooms. Luckily, at the time, no class was in session and no one was injured in the collapse. But an engineer who was called in to assess the structural damage recommended the closure of the third-floor of the building due to the plaster collapse. He noted that a large number of students in the building could cause a "considerable vibrational load" and might "increase the hazard of plaster crackings."

An example of damage to McIver Memorial Building
Also, the building was once again labeled a fire hazard. "No Smoking Anywhere in McIver" signs were quickly posted around the building. Previously, instructors had been allowed to smoke in their offices and some allowed smoking in laboratories. The engineer's report declared that "if a fire were to commence in the basement while a large number of classes were in progress, this department sees no way in the world that all students would be able to escape from the building before the open interior stairways had enabled the fire, smoke and other lethal fumes to engulf the entire building with the inevitable loss of many lives."

Campus administrators were forced to close the building in July 1956 and reassign all classes to other building around campus. That same month, they met with state legislators to discuss funding for a replacement building, as the McIver Memorial Building had fallen to such a state that repair was much more costly than new construction. Administrators requested a building of "comparable size, on the present site of McIver and under the existing name." Talks continued into Spring 1957, with students joining administrators in lobbying state politicians for funds for a new building.

Demolition of the McIver Memorial Building, 1958
The 1957 Legislature appropriated $1 million for a new building to replace McIver Memorial (campus leaders had initially asked for $1.3 million). In December 1957, a contract for demolition of the structure was awarded to W.W. Rike, Jr., of Winston-Salem, with a completion time limit of 120 days. By March 1958, the McIver Memorial Building was no more. And on October 5, 1960, the campus celebrated the dedication of the new McIver Building (which stands today) on the same site.