Monday, September 30, 2013

Spartan Pets: Faculty and their Dogs in UNCG History

Mary Channing Coleman and Bonnie
In an oral history interview conducted in 2006, Celeste Ulrich (Woman's College class of 1946 and professor in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from 1956-1979) discussed her life-long love of dogs and her extensive time spent training animals. She noted that, when she arrived at Woman's College as a student in the Fall of 1942, she felt at home because so many of the faculty members had dogs.

For Ulrich and many other students at WC, these faculty pets served as a conversation starter or a way for students to move past shyness or intimidation. As Ulrich stated, "students that were frightened of teachers and so on would come in and pet the dogs, and pretty soon they'd be talking to the teachers about what their real problems were."

Katherine Taylor and Suki
Faculty dogs appear quite frequently in stories of campus history. Mary Channing Coleman, who led the physical education program from 1921 until her death in 1947, was well known among the student body for being a challenging and intimidating instructor. But she was equally well known for her fox terrier, Bonnie. Bonnie traveled with Coleman around campus and even to class. In Ulrich's word, Bonnie "was just as equally ferocious as Miss Coleman."

Katherine Taylor, a 1928 graduate and Dean of Students from 1948 until her retirement in 1972, was also known around campus for her dogs. One of Taylor's pets, a one-eyed basset hound named Suki, made an unexpected appearance in the 1967 Pine Needles (the campus yearbook). According to John Robinson, who served as the photography editor that year, he needed a photograph of Taylor for the yearbook, but he was on a tight deadline. He managed to catch her on campus as she was taking Suki for a walk. Robinson felt bad about taking a photo of Taylor when she was unprepared and "she didn't even have a chance to brush out her hair." But, after the yearbook was published, Taylor thanked him for the picture, saying it was one of her favorites because it captured Suki's "good side."

Faculty dog show (Bardolph, Taylor, and Griffin)
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a faculty dog show was held as part of the Purse Drive, a campus-wide fundraising activity led by the WC's Service League. In 1958, the dog show, held in the Elliott Hall ballroom, concluded the week-long charity effort. In 1962, the Pine Needles featured a photograph of Taylor along with professors Richard Bardolph (History and Political Science department) and Ellen Griffin (Physical Education department) at the dog show. Suki can be seen hiding in the background.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A short history of the Printing Press at Jackson Library

If you have ever ventured to the second floor of Jackson Library’s main building, you might have noticed an antique printing press sitting in the corner near the stairs.  The press is a A.B. Taylor Company Printing Press No. 2 and was built between 1854-1855. This history of how the library acquired such a unique historical artifact began in March 1960 when Mrs. Martha Hodges, wife of NC Governor Luther H. Hodges and head of the Friends of the Library at Woman’s College (now known as UNCG) received a letter from E.A. Resech, editor of The Chatham News. Resech, who is the executor and trustee of the late Miss Beatrice Cobb, wanted to offer the printing press as a gift to the Woman’s College.  Mrs. Hodges forwarded the letter to library director, Mr. Charles Adams, who eagerly accepted the printing press on behalf of the library.

Prior to arriving at the library, the printing press resided in Lenoir, North Carolina, where it was used to publish the Lenoir Tropic newspaper in the 1880s.  According to legend, the press was purchased from Greeneville, Tennessee where it was believed former 17th president Andrew Johnson used it as part of a printing business. In 1890, the press was purchased by Mr. W.C. Ervin, the father of Miss Cobb and the founder of the Morganton Herald, and moved to West Virginia. 

Unfortunately, when the press arrived at Jackson Library, it was not in working condition and was missing several important pieces, including a toggle joint, a tympan, and a friket. In a desperate desire to have a working printing press, Adams and assistant library director Stan Hicks began a decade-long search for the missing pieces.  After numerous letters and years of unsuccessful searching, Hicks finally had a breakthrough in 1975 when he discovered another No. 2 Taylor press in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.  After photographing and making sketches of the press, machinists in Greensboro were able to reproduce the missing toggle joint and craft the other missing pieces.  In May 1975, the printing press was once again in full working order.

It was also discovered in 1974 in correspondence with Hugh Lawing, a historian at the Andrew Johnson National Historical Site, that the press did not belong to Andrew Johnson.  Instead, the press more likely belong to Andrew Johnson, Jr. the son of President Andrew Johnson.  It was well known that he and Thomas Maloney, grandson-in-law of President Johnson, published the Greeneville Intelligencer, a weekly newspaper in the mid-1870s. The press is currently still in use today at Jackson Library and has been used most recently to create special printings for various library events.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Freshman Experience

Today's post was written by Rachel Sanders, a senior history major who works in the Special Collections and University Archives.  Rachel is also chair of the Student Libraries' Advisory Council and works with the Libraries' Digital Projects on the grant "Preserving Local History: A Field-Based Digitization Pilot Project."
Being a freshman in college is not an easy thing – and it never has been! Here in the UNCG University Archives, we have information about how freshmen were welcomed and oriented to campus dating back as early as 1896. Back then, things were quite different from today in a lot of ways – including how freshmen were treated.

Student life in the 1890s
In 1896, the welcome program was spread out over three consecutive days at the beginning of October. The “Organization Exercises,” as they were then called, were used to test students’ abilities in English, Arithmetic, Languages, and Drawing. Other subjects tested included Botany, Geography, and Physiology. The same was true for the 1897 program. It’s clear from reading documents from this era that the girls who attended the college were not given much independence or choice at all with regard to their education and orientation. The events all appear to be quite structured and uniform - everyone was together at all times during these sessions.

1918 College Night Reception program
Around 1918, things started to change. During that year’s orientation, there was a college night reception in which the student body president and the campus Y.W.C.A. president spoke and the girls sang the college song. There were also presentations by each class (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior) and presentations by each literary society on campus (Dikean, Cornelian, and Adelphian). Groups like the Athletic Association, the Dramatic Club, and the Farmerettes came to the reception to promote their groups and to demonstrate the skills that girls could hope to improve if they joined those groups. On this night there was also a presentation by the College Magazine and the local Red Cross chapter.

By 1929, things were more personal and the girls were trusted with more responsibilities – supervision and structure were relaxed a little, and the 1929 freshman program had stretched out to a weeklong event. As the campus grew, girls in orientation sessions were split into many different groups and given tours of the library, the infirmary, and other campus buildings. They also had group pictures taken – many of which can be seen in the photograph collections here at University Archives. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, this format for welcoming students was retained, and eventually these orientations began to include auditions for ensembles and groups around campus.

Student reception, ca. 1950s
Since the mid-twentieth century, things have gone through even more radical changes. In 1989, the Office of Academic Advising and Support Services published a “Freshman Survival Guide” to help new students find all of the new resources that were available on campus – this guide also gave students information about what those offices could do for the students (now men and women were on campus). Today things are similar, but with a modern twist. As the student population at UNCG has increased, so have initiatives to welcome and acquaint students with the massive amounts of programs and resources available to them. Now we have an entire program in the summer called SOAR (Spartan Orientation, Advising, and Registration), and a program known as “Your First Year,” which welcomes new students to campus with tours, parties, exhibitions, and other special events. You can find more information about this program here:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Food Service Workers' Strike of 1969

Cafeteria food service on campus was first introduced in the 1950s, but dissatisfaction soon mounted as growing enrollments brought longer lines and complaints about the choices and quality of the food offered. In 1964, the Carolinian student newspaper ran a comparative analysis of the food services offered at UNCG, Chapel Hill, and N.C. State, finding the other two institutions’ services superior to those on the Greensboro campus. In response to this criticism, the university gave up its own food service that summer and, for the first time, contracted with a national campus food service, ARA-Slater (now Aramark).

This relationship between UNCG and ARA-Slater would last for forty-five years (until 2009), but not without controversy. The first strike against ARA-Slater occurred in December 1964, when black full-time employees objected to a proposed pay cut, even though they were already being paid only ten cents an hour more than primarily white part-time student employees.

Scene from the picket lines of the ARA Strike, 1969
By 1969, tensions had increased. Following strikes at UNC-Chapel Hill and at North Carolina A&T, ARA-Slater employees at UNCG - including some who were students at A&T - went out on strike on March 26. The issues included the hourly wage, lack of overtime pay, sick and holiday pay, performance reviews, and dismissal procedures. A flyer noted that the "demands must be met as soon as possible but no later than immediately." While not overtly related to race, the workers' grievances underscored the differences in opportunities and expectation afforded to the university's primarily white students and the primarily black staff that served them. As Chancellor Ferguson would later recall, "Initially, the strike was not a black and white issue, but in time an element of race conflict was involved because most of the workers were black."

Following the walkout, the SGA voted to support the striking workers and to call for a boycott of the cafeteria. In a controversial move, SGA also voted to use student funds to hire an attorney to represent the striking workers. On the night of March 31, a crowd of approximately 1200 students, including activists from A&T, demanded that Chancellor Ferguson answer their demands. Ferguson agreed to address the campus the next day, at which time he stated that he must remain neutral. Behind the scenes, however, Ferguson was involved in the negotiations between ARA-Slater and well-respected black attorney Henry Frye. In the end, ARA-Slater offered the striking workers even more than they had requested, and the strike ended April 2. Despite calls for competitive bidding, ARA-Slater's contract was renewed for the following year.

Monday, September 2, 2013

School Spirit at UNCG: Banners and Pennants

Class of 1951
Banners and pennants have been a part of college life since the early twentieth century, but they have a long and remarkable history. The word “banner” originates with the Latin word “bandum,” meaning a cloth used to make flags.  Throughout history, banners accompanied official proclamations or edicts. They were decorated with heraldry and were commonly used in battle as rallying points and as a way to identify units of soldiers. Early square or rectangular banners led formal processions and could also be seen as decorative additions to churches or castles.

On the UNCG campus, banners were created by each class, displaying the graduating year or the class motto. The early mottos were in Latin. Each banner reflected the class color, alternating between red, green, blue, and lavender. Often, the banners had embellishments such as gold roping, tassels, and trim.  During reunion weekends, class banners were used as gathering points and for the alumnae parades. 

Pennants had a nautical beginning. They began as long, tapering, triangular flags, used on ships for identification or to signal other vessels. The triangular pennant shape was used in recent years to recognize sports teams, especially professional baseball teams. The pennants’ association with college sports made it a common sight in college dormitory rooms and soon college’s themselves were represented, usually incorporating school colors.

UNCG has a long and rich history of class pennants. Students used large pennants, sporting their class graduation year and decorated with their class colors, to represent themselves at gatherings and sporting events. Smaller versions, using school colors and the current school name, decorated dormitories and can still be purchased in the campus bookstore. The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives has a large collection of banners and pennants, the earliest created during the turn of the 19th century. Please browse the banners and pennants in the University Archive’s textile collection.