Monday, October 20, 2014

Basketball before Co-Education

October is North Carolina Archives Month, 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. The 2014 NC Archives Month theme is "North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State.” All of our Spartan Stories in October will focus on this theme.
From its founding in 1891, the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) emphasized physical activity and personal health. Curriculum in the first year of the school’s existence (1892-1893) included the Department of Physiology and Heath, which had two objectives: instruction in hygiene and an individualized program of exercise. A course in Physical Culture was actually required of all students. The work included gymnastics, calisthenics, and other exercises that were meant to promote the student’s general health and strength.

1909 State Normal senior class basketball team
Around the same time, basketball for women was beginning to gain popularity across the nation. Basketball rules for women were first introduced in 1892 at Smith College. These rules were modified specifically for the women’s game, as it was feared that the women could not physically or mentally handle the strain of the men’s rules. The court was divided into three areas with three players from each time in each area (nine total players per team). The ball moved from section to section by passing or dribbling. Players were limited to three dribbles and could hold the ball for three seconds. No snatching or batting the ball away from a player was allowed.

Students at State Normal gravitated towards the game and actively sought opportunities for athletic competition. In 1900, the campus Athletic Association was formally established (15 years before the student government was founded). In a space that is now the site of the Petty Science Building, the women of the Athletic Association cleared and prepared playing grounds, marked the fields, and installed nets on four tennis courts and basketball goals. A primary goal of the Athletic Association was to support competitions between the classes (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors). They held their first basketball tournament in 1900, and in 1902, they adopted their official motto: “Athletics and active college work go hand in hand.”

Intramural basketball game in Rosenthal Gym, 1942
Competition continued to be solely among State Normal students until 1928, when the school (at the time, known as the North Carolina College for Women) hosted the first annual intercollegiate Play Day in North Carolina. Students from seven schools from around the state came to play a variety of sports (including basketball), but they were not competing for their particular schools. Instead, teams mixed students from the different institutions in order to discourage over-competitiveness.

Permanent facilities were also constructed to allow space for basketball and other competitions. In 1922, a 50 x 90 foot outdoor gymnasium was constructed, and it hosted many of the Athletic Association competitions. The structure consisted of little more than a floor and a roof supported by posts. Rosenthal Gymnasium was completed in 1925. Boasting a swimming pool, basketball court, and other amenities, it was praised as one of the best facilities of its kind in the country. In spite of the upgrade to the facilities, the competitions continued to be intramural only.

Intercollegiate basketball competition, 1963
In the 1940s, Woman’s College began experimenting with a few low-key intercollegiate matches at Play Day. In March 1944, the Carolinian student newspaper was happy to report victories by the WC basketball teams over Guilford and Greensboro Colleges at the recent Winter Sports Play Day in Rosenthal Gym. This experiment, however, only lasted a few years. Intercollegiate competition didn’t resume with any frequency until 1963.

In 1963, the final year before WC became UNCG and admitted male students, the school began its first full schedule of intercollegiate women’s basketball competition. The 1963 team was coached by Ellen Griffin, a 1940 graduate of Woman’s College, an instructor in the physical education department, and a nationally renowned golfer. The team won three of its four games against nearby colleges and paved the way for the current Spartans women's basketball team.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"A Tricky Little Course:" A History of the Campus Golf Course

October is North Carolina Archives Month, 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. The 2014 NC Archives Month theme is "North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State.” All of our Spartan Stories in October will focus on this theme.

Mary Channing Coleman, director of the physical education department at Woman's College from 1920 to 1947, was a strong force for the development of athletic resources on the WC campus. In addition to advocating for the construction of the first building used solely as a gymnasium, Coleman oversaw the development of tennis courts and other facilities for WC students to use in both academic and recreational pursuits. In the fall of 1929, a single golf hole was constructed on the west side of Rosenthal Gymnasium, and plans called for extension to a nine-hole course.

WC students on the campus golf course, 1940
In Fall 1933, President Julius Foust announced the approval of a number of Civil Works Administration (CWA) projects at WC, including the much-anticipated golf course construction. In a March 9, 1935, memorandum, Dean of Administration (and future college president) Walter Clinton Jackson announced that "the little golf course which was constructed here last year as a CWA project is now ready for use." The 1935-1936 College Bulletin lists a nine-hole golf course among its description of athletic facilities, noting that "lessons in golf will be available as part of the work in Physical Education."

At its initial opening, the course faced challenges due to low use. A Woman's College Golf Club was founded to maintain the course, with low-cost memberships offered to students, faculty, alumnae, and guests of members. In a 1937 memo, however, Jackson noted that "for two years and more, the whole matter [of the golf course] was a source of unending difficulties, annoyance and trouble. Neither the faculty nor the students would support the club." In 1940, the course was reduced to three holes due to poor patronage and high costs of upkeep. During World War II, the remaining three holes were left unmaintained.

Golf exhibition at the WC course, 1959
It would be the Fall of 1954 before plans for a new campus golf course took form. While this course would occupy the same physical space as the previous course, it would not follow the design of its predecessor. Instead, this new course would be developed with leadership from WC alumnae and faculty member Ellen Griffin, an innovator in golf instruction and one of the three original organizers of the Women's Professional Golf Association (now the Ladies Professional Golf Association, or LPGA).

The grand opening of the new course took place in October 1957. The Physical Education Department's Christmas bulletin reported that "we had all of the finest local pros play the course the opening day. It was exciting with radio and television coverage and lots of pictures ... It's a tricky little course and being used a great deal by all of the college community." The nine holes measured only 1,120 yards, about a third the length of nine holes and a regular golf course, and had a par of 31.

Indeed, the course saw extensive use for class instruction, clinics, and exhibitions. WC hosted the National Women's Collegiate Golf Tournament in 1953. Griffin directed the LPGA National Golf School on the course from 1961 to 1963, and a number of LPGA touring professionals used the course to teach lessons or play exhibitions. In Spring 1962, eight sections of Beginning Golf were offered through the Physical Education Department.

A view from the 9th hole tee, 1968
At the same time, however, campus administrators were beginning to question the course, both in terms of costs of maintenance and use of land. Chancellor Otis Singletary wrote in 1966 that "the University has been questioned frequently over the past few years, both officially and unofficially, concerning the future of the golf course. This usually arises in connection with the University's need for land for additional building. Our standard has been that land is too valuable for us to keep this entire area as a golf course. We hope we might keep one or two fairways for instructional purposes in golf, but that much of this land would be needed for other outdoor physical education facilities." Although no immediate action was taken, two years later, Griffin left UNCG to open her own golf teaching facility.

In the ensuing years, construction of the new campus recreation center, other outdoor recreation facilities, and additional campus parking eliminated most of the course's nine holes. Maintenance was spotty, with many fairways becoming overgrown and drainage problems plaguing others. Finally, in 1998, campus administrators broke ground on a 150-yard practice fairway with two greens and a bunker on the West Market Street side of campus. The fairway and greens occupy what was the sixth hole of the nine-hole course.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Piney Lake: "The Country Club of W.C."

October is North Carolina Archives Month, 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. The 2014 NC Archives Month theme is "North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State.” All of our Spartan Stories in October will focus on this theme.

"Tired of studying? Tired of going to classes, of going to the dining hall, of going to Aycock? Tired of your roommate? Your counselor? Yourself? ... Pack up a pair of blue jeans and an old shirt, throw in a beat-up pair of sneakers, and take off to the Country Club of W.C., Piney Lake." This begins an October 1, 1956 Carolinian article announcing the purchase and opening of the Piney Lake property to the Woman's College students.

Piney Lake was purchased by WC on August 7, 1956 from Abe Blumenthal, a Greensboro business man who had used the property as a country estate for a number of years. For a purchase price of approximately $65,000, the college purchased the 40+ acre property situated six miles south of Greensboro. Acting Chancellor W. W. Pierson noted, "since WC trains scores of recreation directors and camp counselors, Piney Lake will be an ideal place for the more effective training of girls entering these fields of work."

WC students at Piney Lake, 1956
With its opening to WC students in Fall 1956, Piney Lake became the primary center for recreation activities. Students were able to make use of the four-acre lake, which featured a concrete pier, aluminum boats, and a concrete float with regulation fixtures. The grounds also featured a number of buildings and other structures for students to use, including a large residence, a caretaker's home, a barn, a garage, a recreation pavilion, tennis courts, and dressing rooms. The Carolinian article even notes that the main residence housed a baby grand piano, "a feature which will appeal to tired music majors who desire to take a businessman's holiday."

Marjorie Leonard, a professor in the Department of Physical Education, and her "cocker spaniel and watchdog" Liz were the first permanent residents at Piney Lake, living in the caretaker's house.She took on the role of "area supervisor." While carrying a full teaching load, Leonard organized use of the Piney Lake facilities, cared for the grounds, and managed supplies and other needed items.

Map of Piney Lake, from the Junior PE Majors Camp scrapbook, 1960
In addition to serving as a recreation center for student activities, Piney Lake was an instructional hub for a number of disciplines. Junior Physical Education majors spent weeks at Piney Lake at "Major Camp," training in recreation management and education. In the summer of 1957, 13 WC students and 18 members of fifth and sixth grade classes at the Curry School participated in a week-long camp at the site. This experimental "enrichment class" consisted of courses in soil conservation, water biology, forestry, wildlife, nature study, boating, swimming, and crafts. Most of the classes were taught by the WC students or faculty members. Day camps continued for many years, opening to children of summer school students, faculty, Curry students, and the community at large.

Piney Lake was managed by the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) from its opening until 1976. After nearly twenty years of management by part-time staff, in Spring 1975, the decision was made by head of HPER to hire a full-time director for Piney Lake at the salary of approximately $10,000 per year. Soon thereafter, management responsibilities transferred to the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in 1976, but programming and use of the facilities remained the same. In fact, in 1979, Piney Lake was one of only six sites in the nation to be designated a National Environmental Study Area (NESA) by the U.S. Park Service. This designation recognized UNCG's use of Piney Lake to provide "exemplary programs in environmental education."

Students canoeing at Piney Lake, 1995
Questions over the use and funding of the Piney Lake facilities came to light in the 1990s, however. In September 1995, a consultant's report on student activity fee issues concluded that Piney Lake should be state or self-supported, not supported by student activities fees as it had been since its inception. Dean Robert Christina of the School of Health and Human Performance responded in November, declaring that "Piney Lake is a recreation center that has no academic program." In June 1996, the Chancellor officially responded to the report, indicating that Piney Lake should become self-supported by user fees over a five-year period. This transition, however, was not smooth. In January 2001, Piney Lake closed for all but Team Quest use. No summer camps were held for the first time since Piney Lake came into university hands

On July 1, 2001, administration of the facility was transferred to Campus Recreation, and three years later, "informal recreation" was re-established at Piney Lake. Today, Piney Lake remains under the administration of Campus Recreation, and  student organizations, departments, and other groups are able to reserve the facilities for their use.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Doughnut for All Ages

The Doughnut as of 2014
Hidden deep within W.C. Jackson Library, secreted away from the public thoroughfares, there is The Doughnut. It is a thirty-three year old doughnut. Miraculously, The Doughnut has resisted corruption for over three decades. Each year, between fifty to seventy-five people pilgrimage to view this venerable confection, and such visits are considered an initiatory ritual for all library employees. Although it is spoken of in tones of pride and respect presently, the prominent pastry’s “birth” is of humble origin.

The hors d'oeuvre tray at a library staff orientation in November of 1980 concluded in a common scenario. Whether owing to caution against a breach of etiquette or fearing the appearance of gluttony, a single doughnut remained untouched and alone on the tray. Additionally, as is another common situation in such informal social occasions, no one claimed responsibility for cleaning away the food after the party. This lone survivor of the carbohydrate laden feeding frenzy, a Dunkin’ Donut cake doughnut, remained forgotten on its platter.

Several days later, opportunity arose for The Doughnut to establish itself as a working member of the UNCG community. The employees to the library bindery (now Preservation Services) procured an old stereo from which they hoped to listen to the university radio station. Tragically, no amount of modification to the antennae improved the reception. After everything from framing wire to metal binders was added to make the signal listenable with no improvement, all eyes fell upon The Doughnut. It was added to one of the binder clips on the improvised antennae, and the “college radio station came in loud and clear.” The radio was replaced over the following months, but The Doughnut remained suspended from the binder clip for the next five years. Over the years, it is reported that many people would notice the doughnut, but no one ever inquired as to why it was hanging in the library.

After five years, an accidental collision with a student freed The Doughnut, and to the amazement of everyone, it “clincked to the floor like a piece of stoneware.” One small fragment was chipped from it ossified body, but it remained intact otherwise. By this time, The Doughnut had shrunk to about ten percent its original size. In honor of its years of service and impressive fortitude, The Doughnut remained in the library, both as an esteemed artifact and as a valued colleague.

Initially, The Doughnut was honored on the five year anniversary of its arrival to UNCG, much like any other UNCG employee. The Jackson Library Staff Association held the First Annual Doughnut Festival in 1985, in which celebrants were encouraged to adapt song titles, movie title, opening lines of books, and compose poetry to exalt what was becoming a workplace icon. Notable entries in the song category included “Don’t Come Home Drinkin’ with Doughnuts on Your Mind” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Doughnut.”   

On its tenth anniversary, a black, velvet-lined case was constructed specifically for The Doughnut, but it was the twentieth anniversary in 2000 that brought The Doughnut to national attention. The Doughnut had been embraced by the local North Carolina media, but the Associated Press picked up the story for the twentieth anniversary. An article about The Doughnut made it into the Chronicle of Higher Education and National Public Radio. Famously, it was billed above the Pope in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not column in 2001. Having matured from its two decades of fame, The Doughnut was installed into a professionally constructed glass exhibit case in 2010.

This November will be the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Doughnut arriving at UNCG, ranking its years on campus among many employees looking towards their retirement. Rest assured, there are no rumors circulating of The Doughnut’s retirement. Although not formally accessioned into the university’s archives, The Doughnut remains a permanent figure in Jackson Library lore.     

Monday, September 22, 2014

Darlinettes and Rhythmettes: Big Band Sounds at the WC

In 1942, big band music from the likes of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman were all the rage, but local big bands were hard to find. Most of the musicians in these groups were male, and they were being drafted into military service during World War II. But a group of students at the Woman's College stepped in to fill the void, forming the Darlinettes and their four-member vocal group, The Rhythmettes, in 1942.

Practicing in the Brown Music Building
Many of the Darlinettes' and Rhythmettes' performances took place at Woman's College. They played many of the formal dances and "soldier dances" held on campus during and immediately after WWII. But the group was not confined to the WC campus. They played shows at the USO Club on North Elm Street, and they entertained troops stationed at the Army Air Corps' Overseas Replacement Depot in Greensboro. In 1946, they traveled to Asheville to provide entertainment at the 1st annual conference of the 191st District of Rotary International. Cleveland Thayer, General Chairman of the Distrct, wrote to offer his personal thanks to the Darlinettes for "the fine work of your orchestra."

The founding leader of the Darlinettes and Rhythmettes was Cherry Folger, who also played trumpet. Folger was reportedly the first trumpet major in the history of WC, and was quite the musician and leader. At the age of 14, she was fronting an all-male musical group in her hometown of White Plains, NY. According to a newspaper article from 1943, she "often hits high 'E' above high 'C' on the instrument, and has been known to touch high 'G.'" She formed the Darlinettes soon after arriving at WC in 1942 (she transferred after spending her first two years of college at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester).


When Folger graduated in 1944, Doris Funderburk took over the baton for the Darlinettes. Under Funderburk's leadership, the Darlinettes continued their busy performing schedule. But they also found time to record an album, titled "Autumn Serenade." The 78 rpm records were made May 26, 1946, at the Vic Smith Recording Service in Greensboro. They featured 10 songs, including an original piece written and orchestrated by Funderburk called "You Don't Get it From Books."

The group continued performing, with membership swapping out with each graduation, through the early 1950s. Many of the Darlinettes took up non-musical careers after graduation, but a few continued in a musical path. Frances Stevens Snipe of Clemson, SC, sang with Greensboro band leader Burt Massengale's group for a number of years. Mary Sampson Irvin played trombone with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. And Doris Funderburk Morgan served as the organist at the old Charlotte Coliseum for many years, playing music to enliven crowds at the Charlotte Checkers ice hockey games.

In September 2002, several members of the Darlinettes were reunited at an event organized by Burt Bruton, the nephew of the late Sue Bruton, an original member and saxophonist in the Darlinettes. The following May, the UNCG School of Music declared May 2 to be Darlinette Day. They hosted an event featuring Darlinettes members and established a Darlinettes Artist in Residence Endowment Fund, aimed at bringing female jazz artists to the school.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Celebrating 50 Years of Coeducation at UNCG

On July 1, 1963, the North Carolina State Legislature officially renamed Woman’s College to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the decision was made that all UNC system schools would now be co-educational. But male undergraduates did not immediately arrive on the Greensboro campus. Instead, it was not until the following Fall that the first male undergraduates began their studies. With the start of instruction on September 17, 1964, the UNCG undergraduate student body officially included 282 men.

A group of male undergraduates, 1964
The decision to transition from a single-sex institution to co-educational was met with mixed reactions on campus. Students were divided on the issue; they formed Pink and Blue factions, and took turns painting the McIver statue and decorating the campus in these colors to show their support of or opposition to coeducation. The Carolinian student newspaper reported the division and ultimately supported the change. Some faculty feared that women would gradually be eliminated from the faculty or reduced to low-level positions teaching introductory courses only.

Campus administrators, however, favored the change, with most of them viewing coeducation as inevitable. With over 2,000 woman already enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State building its first women’s dormitory, administrators in Greensboro saw their monopoly over female students in the state eroding. Some also hoped that being coeducational (along with having university status) would bring more equitable appropriations from legislators and the UNC system.

When the male students arrived on campus, many faced challenges with both faculty and fellow students who were not in favor of coeducation. When the town students first elected a male representative to student government, some of the female representatives walked out when he spoke and repeatedly voted down any motions he offered. In a 1991 oral history interview, Charles Cole (class of 1969) recalls professors repeatedly entering classes with the greeting, "Hello, ladies," essentially ignoring the males' presence. In fact, Cole, an African-American man, found his identity as a male a greater challenge at UNCG than his identity as an African American.

Phillips-Hawkins Residence Hall, 1968
Other challenges were even more basic to student life. The first few male students who didn't live at home had to find rooms or apartments off campus. Several occupied a converted firehouse at Mendenhall and Walker, a block from campus, that was billed as the "first men's dorm." From 1965 to 1967, men were housed in three small apartment buildings adjacent to campus (but owned by the university). No on-campus dormitory housing was offered for male students until Phillips Residence Hall was completed in 1967 (the adjacent Hawkins Residence Hall was occupied by female students).

A 1966 Alumni News article quoted Michael Dean Daniels (class of 1968) discussing a whole different problem. "I have opened a door for a girl, only to stand for five minutes while fifty or sixty girls stream through," said Daniels. "Each one usually expresses a word of thanks, but these words don't help much when I try to tell my English professor that I was late to class because I was held up by a doorknob."

1967 actually saw a number of changes for the male students at UNCG. In addition to the construction of Phillips dormitory, UNCG officially began its first venture in men's intercollegiate athletics. Athletic Coordinator Frank Pleasants hired three new "instructor-coaches" to "guide the school through its first season of competition." James R. Swiggett was hired to coach basketball and golf, John Douglas directed wrestling and tennis, and William L. Russell, Jr. was named director of volleyball and intramural events. In addition, Douglas and Russell shared responsibility for cross country competition.

Lindsay Lamson, first male SGA president
The following years saw male undergraduates move into many of the high-profile student organization positions at UNCG. Lindsay Lamson became the first male Student Government Association president in 1969-1970. Jack Pinnix was the first male editor of the Carolinian in 1968-1969. And by 1973, according to an article in the Alumni News, "the presence of a number of male senators and representatives at Student Legislature meetings has become quite commonplace."

The same 1973 Alumni News article, written by David B. McDonald (class of 1971), concludes that "there is hardly any aspect of University life that has not been affected by the presence of men on campus ... The male entering this University today can be assured not only of receiving a superb education but also of having opportunities for full participation in sports and other extra-curricular activities, and for a most interesting social life." From 282 in 1964 (6.6% of the total student body) to 3,217 in 1980 (31% of the total student body), the undergraduate male enrollment saw steady growth -- even with a rocky start -- through the first 15 years of coeducation.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Edwin Alderman and the founding of the State Normal and Industrial School

Edwin Alderman, ca. 1892
While Dr. Charles Duncan McIver is credited with being the founder of the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), the contribution and influence that his good friend, Edwin Alderman had on its creation cannot be overlooked. Born in May 1861, Alderman attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where his friendship with fellow students like McIver, James Y. Joyner, and M.C.S. Noble encouraged his belief in educational reform in North Carolina. Graduating in 1882, he became the superintendent of schools in Goldsboro, NC.  In 1886, McIver approached Alderman with the idea of establishing a teachers’ college which would serve both male and female students in the state. This concept was unique at the time as there were no public colleges or universities for white women and the private denominational colleges were often too expensive for many to attend.

Despite enthusiastic support from the North Carolina Teachers’ Assembly, the state legislature failed to pass funding for the establishment of such a school in 1887 and 1889.  However, as a compromise they agreed in 1889 to fund two educators to travel to every county in the state, offering week-long teachers’ institutes.  McIver and Alderman were selected to lead the program. Seizing on the opportunity to connect with people across North Carolina, they began promoting and gaining support for the establishment of a new teaching college. Their successful crusade culminated in February 1891, when the state legislature easily passed a bill to establish a Normal and Industrial School for White Girls.

In June 1891, the nine-man board of directors for the State Normal and Industrial School elected McIver as the president of the new school. While Alderman had also been interested in the job, he did not actively campaign for it against his good friend McIver and instead accepted  professorships of English and History. The importance of his contribution to the school’s founding was also reflected in his yearly salary of $2,000; only $250 less than McIver’s and nearly double that of any other faculty member. Alderman left the college in 1893 to become the first professor of pedagogy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and was elected president of the university in 1896. Alderman continued his commitment to higher education by becoming president of Tulane University in 1900 and eventually was elected the first president at the University of Virginia in 1904 where he would serve until his death April 1931.