Monday, October 15, 2018

Lucy Robertson: Academic and Activist

While Lucy Henderson Owen Robertson (1850 – 1930) was a member of the staff of State Normal and Industrial College (now UNC Greensboro) for only a short time, she made a lasting impression on the college, the city of Greensboro, and education in the South. Robertson was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, but grew up in Hillsborough, attending Miss Nash and Kollock’s School for Young Ladies, then Chowan Baptist Institute (now Chowan University). Robertson liked to tell the story of when, as a young girl, she visited a palmist who told her fortune. When the woman read her palm, she said that Robertson’s heart and head line were parallel, and it was hard to tell which was longer. She determined at an early age, that it was her heart line.

Lucy Robertson

In 1869, she married Dr. David A. Robertson and moved with him to Greensboro, raising two sons. Perhaps unusual for women of her time, she had a career in academics.  In 1875, she took a position at Greensboro Female College (now Greensboro College) as an assistant in the Literary Department, then head of the English Language and Literature Department. She became a widow at thirty-three years of age and dedicated the rest of her life to teaching.

In 1893, Robertson was enticed to accept a position at the State Normal to teach in the Department of English and History. When the school opened in 1892, this was a combined department, but it was eventually split into separate areas and Robertson became the head of the newly established Department of History. The fact that she was made department head reflects college president Charles Duncan McIver’s willingness to hire women for important positions. McIver may have also liked the fact that she was a native of North Carolina. During the early years, the College took pride in recruiting its professors from the South, specifically North Carolina.

State Normal Faculty, ca. 1893. Lucy Robertson is on the far right

 Described as “tall and graceful, well educated, well-traveled, and vitally interested in people,” Robertson was an immediate favorite with the students of State Normal. She developed a curriculum for the History Department that stressed a “familiarity with the great names and events” and a chronological sense of history. She particularly emphasized Greek and Roman history, medieval history, English history, and U.S. history. The Department used textbooks in all classes, but also encouraged “topical study, parallel reading, and independent research in a library.”

Robertson only taught seven short years at the State Normal before returning to Greensboro Female College in 1900 to accept the position of Lady Principal, and then President. In fact, she became the first woman to hold the office of college president in the state and in the South. She remained President until 1913, when she made the decision to return to teaching. Robertson also spent time traveling both in the United States and overseas, visiting eleven countries.

Annual History Department Report written by Lucy Robertson, 1898

In 1917, as the country began to mobilize for World War I, Robertson was appointed to the Executive Council of the North Carolina Division of the Woman’s Committee.  Specifically, she was chosen as Chair of Child Welfare.  She was considered to have the credentials and experience to be an effective state representative and the connections to recruit students and faculty from North Carolina’s well-established network of women’s colleges for war work.

Robinson was also involved in spheres beyond academics, becoming involved in many organizations and president of the Western Conference of the Women's Foreign Missionary Societies, the United Society of Foreign and Home Missions, and a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Woman's Club of Greensboro.

In her later years, she continued to work, teaching “Bible and Religious Education” at Greensboro Female Academy until a few days before her death in May of 1930. She died in the infirmary of Greensboro College. She was buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Greensboro.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Curry School: Practice Teaching on Campus

On February 18, 1891, the North Carolina Legislature passed "An Act to Establish and Normal and Industrial School," officially chartering the institution that would become UNC Greensboro. As the State Normal and Industrial School, the institution focused heavily on training women to become teachers in North Carolina's public schools. As part of this training, the institution established a practice school so that students could gain practical classroom experience as part of their education.

State Normal opened its practice and observation school in 1893 under the direction of Philander P. Claxton. Initially, the school had ten pupils, with ages ranging from five to eight. Two of these pupils were the children of State Normal president Charles Duncan McIver. Classes were held in rooms within the Wooden Dormitory, one of two student residence halls on the State Normal campus.

Curry School students, circa 1910
By 1898, the practice school student body had grown to nearly 200 pupils, and the school was officially incorporated into the Greensboro public school system. The Wooden Dormitory building also grew to accommodate the expanding student population. Meanwhile, McIver and others at State Normal advocated for funding to build a separate building on campus to hold the practice school.

In 1902, that goal was finally achieved and the new practice school building opened. Named after Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, who helped advocate for the founding of the State Normal, the practice school building was located on College Avenue. With the new building came even more growth in the practice school student body. Beginning in 1913, the Curry School added each year a new grade from eighth to eleventh (which was at the time the state's standard senior year). It produced its first high school graduating class in 1917. Due to interruptions from World War I, however, Curry School would not graduate another class until 1927.

In the mid-1920s, construction on a new and more modernized Curry School Building on Spring Garden Street began. As the new building was nearing completion in 1926, the original Curry building on College Avenue burned to the ground. Faulty electric wiring and poor original construction were to blame for the fire. The portico framing the front entrance to the building was the only part of the structure to survive. It remained in place for over a decade, with students referring to it as "the ruins."

Curry School students, circa 1940
By this point, well over a third of the juniors and seniors at the college (known in 1926 as the North Carolina College for Women) were education majors. Many others majored in a specific subject area but planned to teach high school after graduation. The Curry School population also grew, with an enrollment of 402 students in December 1928. A kindergarten was added in 1935 and the twelfth grade of high school in 1946. Total enrollment at the Curry School, however, remained steady, due primarily to the size of its building. In 1944, the school reportedly had a lengthy waiting list and rejected numerous applicants.

By the 1950s, the number of students at Woman's College who needed practice teaching experience greatly outpaced the ability of the Curry School to offer them on-campus opportunities. More and more students found these experiences in other local public schools. Additionally, the facilities at the Curry School had deteriorated to the point that a candidate for the school's deanship in 1958 proclaimed it the worst he had ever seen.

A state bond referendum in 1959 helped improve the physical plant. The repairs and additions included the construction in 1961 of Park Gymnasium next door to the Curry School Building. But by this time, the small student body and the limitations in offerings for high school students (both varieties of classes and extracurricular activities) started to impact the school. Additionally, Curry's operating costs per pupil were almost double that of the other nearby public schools.

Curry School students, 1970
Outside consultants and an education faculty study in 1966 all recommended closure of at least the high school at Curry. Robert O'Kane, dean of the School of Education, agreed and the high school officially closed in 1969. The elementary grades (kindergarten through sixth grade) followed in 1970. Today, the Curry School building remains on Spring Garden (although the Park Gymnasium was razed in 2004 to make way for the Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building).

Monday, October 1, 2018

History of the Virginia Dare Room (Alumni House)

In 1937, the Alumnae Hall at the Woman’s College (now UNCG) opened to much fanfare and excitement across the campus. Designed by Penrose V. Stout of Bronxville, New York, and modeled after Homewood in Baltimore, Maryland, it was originally called the Alumnae Hall. The name was changed to the Alumni House in November 1972.

Baptism of Virginia Dare
One the distinguishing features of the House is the large ballroom, which today is more commonly referred to as the Virginia Dare Room. The historical title for the room is in direct reference to the large mural over the fireplace that depicts the baptism of Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in the United States, in 1587. The idea for the mural dates to March 1936, when the Alumnae House Building Committee was planning the interior layout for the house.

Following the resignation of Miss Elizabeth Thompson as the contracted interior designer for the House, the committee voted to hire J. Frank Jones, Inc., from Richmond, Virginia. At his first official meeting with the group on March 2, 1936, Mr. Jones presented to the committee a photograph of the Baptism of Virginia Dare, which had been given to Miss Clara Byrd, the Secretary of the Alumnae Association. Mr. Jones was charmed with the picture and suggested to the committee that it would be perfect, when enlarged and hand colored, to display as a mural over the fireplace mantle. The image he presented to the group was of a painting originally given to the North Carolina State Historical Commission in April 1930 by National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of North Carolina. Mr. Jones also suggested finding a second painting that could be a companion piece to the Virginia Dare mural.
The committee members were very impressed by the beauty of the picture and thought that Mr. Jones’ idea was an excellent recommendation. At the following meeting on March 16, 1936, Dr. Julius Foust, the Chancellor of Woman’s College, presented to the committee a letter by Mr. Jones. In it, he recommended using the Baptism of Virginia Dare and The Croatan Tree as companion mural pieces in the Alumnae House. It was of his opinion that both images were visually decorative and of historical value. He further noted that he had found an artist willing to paint them for $150 each, which he described a “ridiculously low.”

After a short discussion, the committee formally voted and approved the commission of the murals at the recommendation of Mr. Jones. However, rather than using state funding for the project, which would have resulted in a formal competitive bidding process, Dr. Foust suggested that outside monies should be raised for the paintings.

Although the two large murals have hung in the Virginia Dare Room since the House opened, the room was not always identified by them. Originally, the room was referred to in meeting minutes and in correspondence as the “large reception hall.” It was not until the May 29, 1948 meeting of the Alumnae Association that the name Virginia Dare Room first appears. The reasoning for this nomenclature shift is absent from the minutes, however it was likely done to recognize the importance of the mural in the room. Today, the Virginia Dare Room hosts many UNCG activities including lectures, board meetings, and public forums as well as external events such as weddings.

Monday, September 24, 2018

T. Gilbert Pearson: A Legacy of Wildlife Conservation

As one of the early faculty members at the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNC Greensboro), T. Gilbert Pearson (1872-1943) was a favorite among his students, but he is perhaps best known for helping to found the National Association of Audubon Society. 

T. Gilbert Pearson

Born in Indiana and raised in Florida, Pearson spent his early years developing an interest in nature. He lived with his family in a log cabin in the woods where he collected and sold rare and valuable eggs. He also traded the eggs for books about birds. By the age of 18, he had amassed a significant collection of eggs and mounted birds and parlayed it into payment toward a college tuition and board. In 1891, Guilford College, a private Quaker college located in Greensboro, North Carolina, agreed to accept the young man’s offer if he would consent to mount additional birds for the school’s ornithological museum. He had a very successful college life at Guilford College, becoming active in academic organizations and campus sports. After graduation, Pearson entered the University of North Carolina, located in Chapel Hill, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He then returned to Guilford College to teach biology and continued his interest in the preservation of the state’s dwindling bird population.
State Normal Biology Classroom with Pearson's Birds

In 1901, Pearson decided to accept a position at the State Normal as the chair of the geology and biology department. His natural teaching style made him immediately beloved by the students. Virginia Brown (Class of 1902) recalled Pearson was "young, eager, the sort of person to whom each day seemed fresh as if just created. We caught his spirit." The young professor impressed the students by reciting poetry and telling them stories about the birds and animal life he had seen in the wild before morning class. Believing that nature was the best teacher, he often left the confines of the classroom to hold sessions in his “laboratory,” Peabody Park, sometimes joined by equally captivated faculty members. The existence of this campus park enabled him to teach the young women in his charge about local birds and their migratory patterns. Thus, when they became teachers, they could pass the information to their students.

Pearson (lower left) on an outing near Pilot Mountain, 1893
The school’s president, Charles Duncan McIver, encouraged the young professor and asked him to establish a museum of native birds. It was during his time at the State Normal that Pearson wrote Stories of Bird Life and organized the first Audubon Society in North Carolina. He also served as Managing Editor of The State Normal Magazine.

Pearson's Stories of Bird Life

Pearson’s life progressively would progressively take a turn toward conservation. In 1903, he became the Secretary of the National Audubon Society and State Game Commissioner. He also began to lobby the North Carolina legislature to pass a law that would give the Audubon Society the right to enforce wildlife laws in the state. This would be known as the “Audubon Act,” allowing a private organization to have public authority and creating the South’s first wildlife commission. Although McIver wanted to retain him on the faculty, Pearson left in 1904 to become a full-time agent for the newly formed National Association of Audubon Societies. He later became president of the organization.

Pearson continued as a prolific speaker and writer on behalf of North Carolina’s wildlife, penning an autobiography, Adventures in Bird Protection, as well as The Bird Study Book and Birds of North Carolina and serving as co-editor of the three-volume book, Birds of America. He would move into a national role in conservation, becoming secretary, and later president of the National Association of Audubon Societies.

John Burroughs Memorial Association Medal

After spending his life working toward the conservation of the state’s wildlife, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of North Carolina in 1924. Additionally, Pearson received the medal of the John Burroughs Association and was honored in France with the medal of the Society National d’Acclimatation. He passed away in in 1943 and now lays buried next to his wife Elise Weatherly Pearson (a State Normal alumna, Class of 1896) in Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro.  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Josephine Hege: Expressing the Spirit of Woman's College

In 1972, Josephine "Jo" Hege retired as an associate professor of history at UNC Greensboro. On the occasion of her retirement, history department head Richard Bardolph wrote of her as "a highly popular teacher, as well known for her sparkling wit, her ebullience, and her razor-sharp intelligence as for the rigorous standards she required of her students." He noted that she "waged relentless assault upon sham and shoddy worksmanship," but added that "four decades of unswerving dedication to classroom excellence only deepened and strengthened her inner kindliness, her unfailing sense of the comic and absurd, her allegiance to the highest intellectual virtues."

Young Josephine Hege
Elma Josephine Hege was born October 18, 1904, in Salem, NC, to Frederick Christian and Augusta Sitterson Hege. The Hege family's roots could be traced back to the earliest years of the Moravian settlement in Salem. When Josephine was six years old, her family moved to Roanoke Rapids, where her father worked at Rosemary Mills.

After graduating from high school in Roanoke Rapids in 1923, Hege enrolled in the North Carolina College for Women (now UNC Greensboro) to study to become a teacher. She was a very active student, serving as the Literary Editor of the Pine Needles in her junior year and as President of the Student Government Association in her senior year. In the 1927 yearbook, Hege was described as "exact and correct about what she does, but she expects others to have the same standards. This means that she makes an inspiring teacher, although she is a difficult person to please."

Hege's high standards led her to graduate with honors as a history student at NCCW. She was also awarded the Weil Fellowship, which provided a year of graduate study at Yale University. After teaching in public schools for a few years, Hege returned to her alma mater to serve as a counselor in Shaw Residence Hall and part-time instructor from 1934 to 1938. She spent one year away from Greensboro to complete her master of arts degree in history at the University of Virginia. Then, in 1939, she was named an assistant professor in the history department.

Hege, 1927 Pine Needles yearbook
Throughout her time at the school now known as UNCG, Hege wrote poems, litanies, and scripts for numerous services held on campus. Perhaps her proudest achievement, however, was writing the Litany of Commemoration for Founders Day, which was first performed at the university's 50th anniversary celebration on October 5, 1942.

Hege's contributions to the development and growth her alma mater, however, continued in other avenues. When the institution became a university in 1963, Hege took on an unofficial role of mentor to the new faculty members hired. She drew on her background to provide them with instruction in the art of teaching, helping them adjust to the role of professor. Converse D. Clowse, a history department professor, wrote that "she supported young, green faculty members as well as her students. I know that she gave me sound advice on numerous occasions and saved me from a number of errors. She guided others in the same way ... I think that she saw this as a part of her functions as an experienced teacher, to make the next generation of teachers better."

Hege in her office, 1956
In 1972, Hege retired from UNCG. Six years later, a group of faculty and alumni nominated Hege for an honorary doctorate degree for her commitment to UNCG and to excellence in teaching. The degree was awarded in 1979. In a note informing Hege of this decision, Chancellor James Ferguson wrote "you have made fine contributions to this institution, to the consolidated University, and to higher education throughout the state. For many years your litany has expressed the spirit of the Woman's College and the University, and of course your teaching has had a special meaning for those students whose good fortune it was to be in your classes."

Hege saw the institution transform from the North Carolina College for Women to the Woman's College to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her high standards for excellence and her personal emphasis on passing along knowledge to the next generation of students and faculty members ensured that the spirit of the university's founders carries on today.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Crescendoes: UNC Greensboro’s Lost Folk Music Group

UNC Greensboro student music ensembles historically have been classically-based. Although Woman’s College can be proud of its very own all-female 1940s “big band,” the Darlinettes and Rhythmettes, it was not until much later in the school’s history that the music curriculum experimented with popular music. Consequently, what some might consider the state soundtrack of North Carolina, folk music, never seemed to insinuate itself into the daily listening of the greater student body.

A small group of students set out to change this during the 1962-1963 school year. Three students, Lea Jane Berinatti, Janey Walters, and Pat Bowen, were introduced at a meeting for a student music organization. They bonded over their love of folk music and formed a group. Pam Robbins, an interior design major, would eventually replace Pat Bowen who left to New York on a choir trip, and by the 1963-64 school year, one of UNC Greensboro’s early male students Ray Baker, a psychology major, would join the group. This quartet became known as the Crescendoes, the college’s first folk music group.

The Crescendoes wrote and arranged their own music in addition to performing well-known folk pieces and spirituals. Their most popular song was the spiritual, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” but their own arranged pieces, “The Very Last Day” and “The Very Good Year” also were crowd favorites. By 1965, the Crescendoes released their first album, recorded by Copeland and performed throughout the Triad area.

Interestingly, once the Crescendoes graduated and moved on with their lives, no other student group stepped in to pick up the folk music tradition. Although folk music’s introduction to the UNC Greensboro campus was successful, the popularity of the genre decreased rapidly among students. When asked to gauge student interest in folk music, campus radio station employee, Class of 1964 alumna, and folk music enthusiast, Janet Hamer, reported that “Folk music apparently had decreased in public appeal on this campus. We had three programs last year, and attendance dropped off considerably at the third program. If enough students showed interest, we would continue the folk music series.”

So, why did folk music die on the UNC Greensboro campus? Hamer believed it happened for two reasons. The first is that the campus did not have the quality of the the particular types of musicians that could and would perform folk music. Lea Jane Berinatti was considered one of the top guitarists on the UNCG Campus, but of all the members of the Crescendoes, only she was a music major. As the National Folk Festival was centered in Asheville at the time and Greensboro was not known for its folk music scene, students on campus were not widely exposed to what might be considered authentic folk music. The second reason folk music never took hold on the campus, according to Hamer, was that folk music was becoming so commercialized by that time that few students knew what true folk music was supposed to sound like. That being said, she admits that “Some of the purists don’t sound very good to the untrained ears. We have a preconceived idea of folk music formed by commercial singers.”

Thankfully, the genre has been reintroduced successfully on the UNC Greensboro campus, and students now have access to quality folk music performances. In 2008, the UNCG Old Time Ensemble was created by Dr. Revell Carr with the mission “to give students an opportunity to learn songs and tunes that have been part of North Carolina’s culture for generations.” Additionally, in 2015, the National Folk Festival (now the North Carolina Folk Festival) began to be hosted in Greensboro, NC, giving everyone in the city the opportunity to cultivate a trained-ear for folk music.
Cary, Faye Jenkins. "Folksinging: Fading Fad or Priceless Heritage." The Carolinian 15 January, 1965, p. 4.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Religious Activities at the WC

"In all the days of our years as a college, we have been mindful of the fact that, although a State institution and thereby bound by the American tradition of separation of Church and State, religion has a place of supreme importance in the life of every individual. Believing that a college carries the responsibility, beyond imparting knowledge and developing skills, of fostering spiritual understanding and growth, we offer a varied program of religious activity and interests." -- Dean of Administration Walter Clinton Jackson, 1943

Student leaders and speakers at Religious Emphasis Week, 1950
Religious activities did indeed hold a prominent place in the University's landscape from its opening in 1892. The Y.W.C.A. was a prominent fixture on campus, official University Sermons were given by local and out-of-town religious leaders, the college distributed Bibles to seniors at commencement (until 1930), and many religious student groups were formed.

In the 1930s and 1940s, religious activities were particularly integrated into campus life. Students in 1932 formed the Inter-Faith Council as a way of "foster[ing] understanding, cooperation, joint activity and the development of a sense of unity in diversity among the student religious organization." The Inter-Faith Council consisted of two student representatives and the faculty/staff advisor of each of the student religious organizations on campus. They hosted speakers from a broad spectrum of religious backgrounds, held campus vespers services, published a religious handbook for students, and led dormitory devotions.

Students at a chapel service in Aycock Auditorium, 1954
Also, at the same time that Dean of Administration Walter Clinton Jackson led an (ultimately unsuccessful) fundraising drive to construct a campus chapel building,  a group of students in 1939 organized the first annual Religious Emphasis Week. Religious Emphasis Week ran from October 22-27 and featured seminars, lectures, discussions, and special group meetings selected from a poll of the student body. Selected topics of focus included "What Can Be Accomplished by Prayer?," "A Christian Philosophy of Life," "Religious Basis for Social Action," and "Religious Resources for Personal Living." Rabbi Edward L. Israel of Har Sinai Congregation and Baltimore delivered the Thursday evening address in Aycock Auditorium on "Religion and Abundant Living." Religious Emphasis Week continued until 1953 when it was renamed the Inter-Faith Forum.

While religious activities were plentiful on the WC campus, there were official regulations outlining the role of the students and the administration in planning and facilitating these activities. Five key points guided the policies on religious activities on campus:
  • "All religious groups should be given impartial opportunity to function on campus according tot he vitality of the particular group."
  • "The initiative for religious activities on campus should ... mainly rest with the various denominational or recognized non-sectarian groups rather than with the college administration."
  • "Emphasis of the entire religious program should be to relate the individual to the church of her choice."
  • "College regulations with respect to requests for scheduling of events on campus, use of college property, and student government and administrative rules are to be observed."
  • "Groups which are political, economic, or sociological in purpose but which are not religious either in the denominational or inter-faith respect are not to be placed under the authority of the Religious Activities office."
The goal of the policies was to make "religion a real and natural part of her life while at WC rather than merely an additional college 'activity.'"

Religious Activities Center in Elliott Hall
The Religious Activities Center  served as the central administrative hub for all of the student-led religious activities and groups. The Center was located on the third floor of Elliott Hall, and included the office of the Inter-Faith Council president, the office of the Coordinator of Religious Activities (a University-hired position), and a large room in which group meetings could be held. A 1957 brochure about religion at WC noted that the Center's "lovely surroundings afford a quiet place for meditation."

In the early 1960s, the position of Coordinator of Religious Activities was no longer funded, and the activities related to organizing the campus religious groups were folded into the work of the Dean of Students. By 1971 (ironically the year of the founding of the Department of Religious Studies), UNCG's course bulletin no longer listed information about religious activities on campus.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Library as a Hub of Learning (Part Two)

Since the school’s founding in 1892, the library has played a central role in supporting faculty research and student learning.  From its humble beginnings of being located in a small classroom to its current massive holdings of analog and digital holdings, the library has sought to keep pace with emerging scholarly trends, changing researcher needs, evolving uses of technology, as well as a growing student population.  This second blog post about the history of the library at UNCG will examine the profound changes in its collections and space between the years 1945 to 1974.

Carnegie Library Building
At the time of the school’s celebration of its fiftieth anniversary in 1942, the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (UNCG) library was considered the largest woman’s college library in the South.  Its staff of eleven professionals supported the needs of 2,300 students and 300 faculty.  Yet, library administrators and college faculty declared that the current facility was “inadequate” in accommodating the growing collections.  The library’s director (Guy Lyle) and the Faculty Library Committee worked together to build a “case” for the construction of a new library building.  Lyle noted that the library had seen a marked growth in collections and patrons since 1923.  Drawing on its annual statistics over the past 20 years, Lyle found that the number of faculty had grown by 101%, the student body had grown by 75.9%, the number of titles in the collections had grown by 441%, and the over-all circulation of titles had grown by 175%.  Lyle also noted that the seating capacity of the library had only increased by 14.7% since 1923.  During the course of the war years (1941-1945), a number of Greensboro newspaper articles raised the issue of the library’s “space crunch” by referencing Lyle’s key talking point that the facility’s seating capacity had not kept pace with the growth of its student population.  Before Guy Lyle left to take a position at Louisiana State University in 1944, he had the Winston-Salem architecture firm of Northup and O’Brien develop drawings and a conceptual plan for a new library.  His successor, Charles M. Adams, would rely heavily on these designs as he advocated for a new building.   

In 1945, Woman’s College submitted a request to the North Carolina General Assembly for monies to build a new library.  Dr. Walter Clinton Jackson, Dean of Administration, stated that $380,000 was needed for the new structure.  As the Advisory Budget Commission considered this funding request, the library’s director Charles Adams continued to make his case to the general public.  Quoted in a December 1946 article in the school’s newspaper, Adams stated that the “present quarters are so crowded that it is nothing short of a shocking academic situation.”  Adams also noted that the current library could only seat 10% of the student body while the new library was expected to seat upward of 50% of the student body.  In this same article, it was mentioned that the cost of the new library now stood at $1,128,400.

With the North Carolina General Assembly approving this funding request in 1947, contractors quickly submitted bids for the $1.1 million dollar project.  The new building project was to be located on Walker Avenue between McIver and Forest Streets.  The city of Greensboro approved the permanent closing of this portion of Walker Avenue on campus.  While there was some local opposition to this shift in traffic patterns, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 27, 1948.  Surrounded by dignitaries, faculty, and students, Chancellor Walter Clinton Jackson wielded a pick axe and a shovel to formally mark the start of construction.  Jackson stated that the new building marked “the beginning of a new era of greater usefulness of the college to the people of the state.”  The building project started in earnest in October 1948 with the grading of the land.  The installation of steel girders took place throughout the winter months.  The building quickly took shape and was completed in March 1950.  During the College’s exam period in 1950, the library staff relocated the collections from the Carnegie library to the new space.  The College supplied canvas laundry baskets in which the books were packed in.  To expedite the moving of books from the second floor of the Carnegie building, the laundry baskets were sent down chutes into waiting moving trucks!  The new library building opened on June 5, 1950.

Walter Clinton Jackson Viewing the New Library Building
The structure was built to be fire-proof by employing a steel frame and reinforced concrete floors and roof.  All floors were designed for a live load of 100 pounds per square foot.  The floors were covered in terrazzo.  The building contained an elevator for staff to move collections between floors as well as a pneumatic tube system to assist with the sending of call cards to all floors for book retrieval.  Air-conditioning was only provided on the first floor of the three story building.  The exterior of the building featured sand-finish colonial face brick and white Georgia marble.  The main entrance of the library featured a marble columned portico.

The building was designed to meet the projected future growth of the student population from its current 2,300 students to 3,000 students.  The seating capacity was set at 1,384 seats (which included seats in the reading room, seminar rooms, study carrels, and lecture hall).  And, the building’s new book stacks areas now had the capacity to handle 300,000 titles which was more than double its current holdings.  The design also allowed for special services that ranged from seminar rooms for faculty, a small lecture space for book talks, a large lecture room for classes, a student lounge, and sound-proof rooms for audio listening.  Interestingly, access to the collections was restricted to those students who were given a “stacks permit” (mostly juniors and seniors).  

New Library Building, c. 1955
After ten years of service, the “new” library building was formally named the Walter Clinton Jackson Library in 1960 in honor of the former Chancellor.  At the same time, the building was already reaching its projected capacity for titles and patrons.  Indeed, the library was already installing extra shelving in the stacks areas as well as in seminar rooms to accommodate new acquisitions. 

With Woman’s College becoming a co-educational University in 1963, the library was now required to support new graduate programs and an ever-growing student population.  By 1964, the library’s director Charles Adams began to consider plans for an addition to the building.  To assist the planning process, Adams turned to the architecture firm, Odell and Associates of Charlotte, to develop a plan for the addition.  Odell and Associates recommended the construction of a ten-story structure to be located at the rear of the present library building.  The designers consciously designed a building whose features differed greatly from the more traditional brick and marble Jackson Library.  The bright white concrete clad tower embodied the architectural approach known as Brutalism.  Nevertheless, the two distinct buildings would be connected and function as one facility.  The designs and conceptual plan were submitted to the University and to the North Carolina General Assembly. 
Walter Clinton Jackson Library
In 1967, the General Assembly authorized funding of the addition.  However, it was only in 1969 that the General Assembly actually appropriated funds.  The leadership of the library changed in 1969-1970.  Charles Adams retired.  Elizabeth Holder served as the acting director until a search was completed.  Dr. James Thompson was hired in July 1970 to oversee the library and the coming building project.  He immediately began to work with the architects to realize the construction of the ten story addition and the renovation of the 1950 building.  The 1971 General Assembly allocated $4,240,000 to pay for the addition, along with $185,000 for renovations to the existing Jackson Library.  Additional funds were allocated to relocate the intersection of Walker Avenue and Forest Avenue to accommodate the new building.

Construction on the tower addition began in early February 1972.  At that time, the University had 6,983 students and its collections contained 614,098 items.  These numbers were more than double what had been planned for the original 1950 building.  The library’s director noted that “Jackson Library is a fine building” but that the goals of the University had changed.”  So, the current space was inadequate for instruction, collections, and research programs.  Thompson stated that the library addition would provide 119,000 square feet of floor space.  The addition would also increase the number of student seating as well as increase the number of student carrels from 49 to 271 spaces.   With the combined spaces of the current Jackson Library and the tower addition, Dr. James Thompson declared that there would be enough future growth space to house a total of one million volumes. 

Library Tower Under Construction, c. 1973
The tower project was completed in October 1973.  Starting in November 1973, the library staff moved 500,000 books to the tower addition.  The move would take place over three days.  During the entire move operation, the library remained open to meet the needs of its 7,856 students and 400 faculty.  With the books relocated, the construction project turned to renovating the 1950 portion of the library complex.  Those renovations would be completed in fall 1974.  At the completion of the construction and renovation projects, Dr. Thompson estimated that it would take UNC Greensboro 10 to 15 years to fill up the building with books at its present acquisition rate.  Thompson’s prediction was largely correct.  Over the next decade, the library would need to address advances in library technology, continued increases in student enrollment, space, and the growing costs of acquiring new collections.      

Monday, August 20, 2018

Letters from Abroad: McIver’s Trip to Europe, Part 2

McIver chose the Hamburg-Amerika line for his transatlantic crossing
As the S.S. Blucher started its ten-day voyage across the Atlantic, Charles Duncan McIver and James Joyner explored the ship and began their individual routines. McIver enjoyed daily walks on the deck and was thrilled when he glimpsed “large fish and sea animals” in the waves. His letters to Lula expressed excitement about the trip and the beautiful weather, as well as his relief at not becoming seasick like many of the other passengers. He reported that the food was excellent onboard ship and although he had been given “instructions from home” to watch his diet, it was becoming increasingly hard to do so. The elaborate first class menus included rich German dishes and the sumptuous desserts were difficult to resist. McIver spent the first days of his cruise with little to do but “loaf, tell yarns, [and] eat 5 times a day.” He wrote Lula that he was enjoying more “rest and freedom from care that [he] had in a long time.”

Joyner and McIver on deck of the S. S. Blucher, 1905
As one of the main reasons for the trip was to improve his health, McIver found his way to the gymnasium and made exercise a part of his daily ritual. He was amazed to find that the training equipment ran on electric motors, including a machine that took the speed of either a horse or a camel, and a massage apparatus with a belt that moved from the shoulders to the waist.

Entertainments were also a favorite part of his day, with music on the deck every morning and concerts held for the first class passengers in the evening. McIver was particularly charmed by the sounds of informal accordion music and dancing that wafted up from the lower steerage decks.

Dancing aboard the ship
There was much to tell, and McIver continued to write Lula even though he knew that he would not be able to mail his letters until the ship reached its first stop in Plymouth, England. He pined for his little family and took time each day to look at their photographs and write letters. Joyner missed his family as well and wrote his wife constantly. McIver even suspected he was writing Mrs. Joyner poetry! In a romantic flight of fancy, the two men decided to send their wives “love message[s]” from mid-ocean on the Marconi, a recently invented system of wireless communication using coded signals.

When they arrived in Paris, Joyner had correspondence waiting for him at the Grand Hotel, but there were no letters for McIver. His next note to Lula chided her for not sending mail and newspapers. When he finally received a letter from her, he was “dee-lighted!” He continued to write and chronicle his trip from France, to Germany, down the Rhine River, to Brussels, and finally to England.

During his travels, he received letters from his family, as well as his colleagues at the college. A birthday telegram was delivered from campus physician, Dr. Gove, and professors Gertrude Mendenhall and Viola Boddie, and steady correspondence was received from his administrative assistant, Miss Coit. A letter also arrived from the college’s African American facilities manager, Zeke Robinson, who had worked for McIver in his early years at Peace College and later joined him at State Normal. Zeke wrote “It is useless for me to try to tell you how much I have missed you, for you know that already.”

A letter to Lula dated September 28, 1905

By early October, the traveling companions began the last leg of their European trip. McIver had enjoyed France, Germany, and Brussels, but he really seemed to hit his stride in England. He marveled at the country’s history and monuments, and he attempted to see all the sites of London, including the British Museum and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then they traveled throughout the English countryside, visiting Kent, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford. McIver and Joyner also took every opportunity to see plays and productions, ranging from variety shows to more serious plays such as Louis XI starring Henry Irving (a week before his death). McIver wrote Lula, “I was impressed more than ever by the tremendous greatness of the English people and the civilization for which they are responsible.”

McIver especially loved the Lake District. Yet it was at this “ideal spot” that he lost a treasured personal possession. In a letter dated October 6, he told Lula of his heartbreak at losing his locket which contained her picture. While he knew he could purchase another when he returned to North Carolina, he grieved the loss of such a sentimental object.

The travelers’ final stop was Scotland where the beauty of the scenery and tales of Culloden and Mary Queen of Scots did not fail to impress them. McIver also tracked down several of his Scottish relatives and paid them a visit. Although the men had a wonderful time in Scotland, as they made their way south to catch the ship to America, McIver’s letters reflect his desire to “start straight home … and fly all the way.” The fall semester at the State Normal was underway and he missed his family – he was ready to go home. As he boarded the ship at Dover, he summed up his adventures to Lula, “This has been a good trip, full of interest, instruction, and pleasure, but this is the happiest day I have spent abroad because I’m starting toward you and our dear children.”

The McIver home on the State Normal Campus

By all accounts, McIver had enjoyed himself immensely, yet what was planned as a relaxing excursion, had quickly transformed into an extensive and grueling tour. He admitted to his wife, “Our trip has been more strenuous than I expected it to be.” It certainly did not give him the much-needed rest he required and once he returned home, his schedule remained as hectic as before he left.

In subsequent months, McIver’s fast-paced, stressful life began to catch up with him. Less than a year after his grand European trip, Charles Duncan McIver was dead. He suffered a stroke ten days before his forty-sixth birthday. Lula saved his letters from Europe, as well as much of their other personal correspondence, which can now be found in the archives of UNC Greensboro.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Letters from Abroad: McIver’s Trip to Europe, Part 1

Charles Duncan McIver had not been well. Although he was only 45, the years of hard travel, an indulgent diet, and the responsibilities of his role as founder and president of the State Normal and Industrial School had taken its toll. Those close to him were concerned about his health and suggested that a sea cruise might provide the rest and relaxation he would need to restore his strength.

Charles and Lula McIver and their "quartet" of children
 In the summer of 1905, McIver began to finalize his plans for a trip to Europe. Accompanying him would be his friend, James Y. Joyner, a fellow University of North Carolina alumni. McIver and Joyner were part of a group that championed teachers’ education in North Carolina, holding training institutes across the state. In 1891, when the North Carolina legislature finally agreed to establish the State Normal and Industrial School, a state sponsored college for women, McIver took the helm as president and Joyner served as a professor, then head of the English Department. In the years after the school was established, Joyner left to pursue other endeavors, but McIver remained president with the constant pressures and responsibilities that came with the position.

James Joyner and Charles Duncan McIver
McIver’s wife, Lula encouraged her husband’s trip with his college friend and agreed to spare him for what would be an eight week adventure, while she remained home caring for their four children. Lula was an educated woman in her own right and matched her husband’s intellect and energy. A Salem College graduate, Lula had studied medicine and was a committed supporter of women’s rights. They were a very devoted couple, conferring about all matters and writing copious letters during their many separations, as McIver often traveled for business. Yet, this trip would be different – it was longer and communication would be more tenuous. Overseas correspondence could take weeks to deliver and telegrams and telephone calls were costly. As his departure time drew near, the couple devised a code that could be telegraphed inexpensively (the charge was per word), serving as a short-hand to convey how they were doing. For example, “Alog” meant “We are well. How are you?” or “Comem” meant “Come home, Annie is sick,” etc. Promising to write every day, McIver set out on the first leg of his trip, a train from Greensboro to New York, the first week of September.

With a gregarious and engaging personality, McIver encountered many interesting acquaintances as he made his way north. He wrote to Lula the evening of September 4 (on Park Avenue Hotel stationery), telling her of meeting a Captain E. J. Parish of Durham, who suggested that he go into business for the American Tobacco Company. He was obviously flattered and intrigued by the thought of a career change. When he arrived in New York, he met with Mr. Mebane, who tried to persuade McIver to postpone his European trip and instead, stay in New York to discuss taking a job there. It is apparent by his letter that McIver was seriously pondering this offer, but it would have to wait until he returned. While he was in New York, McIver also had the opportunity to meet “Dr. Booker Washington,” likely referring to Booker T. Washington, the African American educator and orator, with whom he had a relationship through the Southern Educational Board.

Correspondence from New York
Lula responded to her husband’s letters with relief and reports of the home front. These mostly included everyday household news of the children, visitors, and her attempts at campus maintenance. Many of her letters reflect her deep worry for his health. She writes, “Sweetheart, please please take care of yourself. It makes me so anxious to see you so sick and tired. I cannot rest.” She also begs him to watch his diet. McIver loved rich food and it was perhaps impractical to suppose that he would curtail his eating habits on a European cruise. She signed her letters affectionately with “lots of kisses from your loving wife.”

While in New York he met his friend, James Joyner, and finalized their travel plans. After considering several different ocean liner companies (including the White Star Line, which would later launch Titanic), they decided on the S. S. Blucher, of the Hamburg-Amerika Line. The friends booked first class passage and also purchased tickets for their return trip October 20, departing from Boulogne, France, and arriving in New York on October 28.

As the ship departed from New York, McIver took the time to quickly write a note to Lula “to say another goodbye,” assuring her that he was well and that his he liked his ship’s quarters very much. He signed the letter, “I love you Sweetheart, I tell you I do. Love to the dear quartet (his children Annie, Charlie, Verlinda, and Lula Martin). Affy (affectionately) your husband, Charles Duncan McIver.” And with this note, written at 11am, he began his European adventure.

The S. S. Blucher
Next week: McIver’s shipboard experience and his “Grand Tour” through Europe!

 *Courtesy of GG Archives

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Liberty Ship, S.S. Charles D. McIver

On May 23, 1943, the North Carolina Ship Building Company, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, launched its 100th Liberty Ship, the S.S. Charles D. McIver. As founder and first president of the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), and a fierce advocate of public education for women, McIver was a natural choice for a commemorative Liberty Ship. He was one of several North Carolina educators to have this honor. Initially named after notable deceased Americans, the ships names’ eventually included men and women, of all ranks, who were lost in the war. Naming opportunities came to those who raised two million dollars in war bonds.

The S.S. Charles D. McIver, 1943*

On the day that the S.S. Charles D. McIver was launched, high-ranking representatives of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, along with local dignitaries, gathered for the festivities in Wilmington, which was broadcasted on the radio. The shipyard band played as the newly christened ship slipped into the water. For glamor, Hollywood actress Constance Bennett was in attendance to present the shipyard with an award for its exceptional purchases of war bonds. Launching its first Liberty Ship only hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Wilmington shipyard was considered one of the best producers of these types of ships in the United States. The yard boasted over 20,000 employees and the ability to deliver up to ten ships per month.

Actress Constance Bennett (polka dot dress) attends the launching ceremony at the Wilmington Shipyard, May 25, 1943**

Based on a British design, Liberty Ships were basic cargo vessels built by the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. The first of these “Emergency Cargo” ships was launched on September 27, 1941, with President Franklin Roosevelt in attendance. Named the S.S. Patrick Henry, who is well remembered for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, the president expected these ships to bring liberty to Europe and they were dubbed accordingly. Liberty Ships were meant to be quickly and economically mass-produced, with parts manufactured throughout the country and then assembled at shipyards on the east and west coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

The launching of the S.S. Charles D. McIver**

Eighteen shipyards built over 2700 ships during the years between 1941 and 1945. Considered the “ugly ducklings” of the naval fleet, the Liberty Ships averaged 441 feet long with a crew of forty-four, holding almost 10,000 tons of cargo in addition to tanks, planes, and ammunition. Built to last only through the war, many of these ships survived, with over 800 incorporated into the United States cargo fleet, and others sold to Italy and Greece. Several ships continued to serve into the 1970s, and currently, two are used as museums. Sadly, the S.S. Charles D. McIver did not fare as well. On March 22, 1945, it sank after striking a mine as it left Antwerp, Belgium. A full rescue was made by a British motor minesweeper and a motor torpedo boat, which rescued the Merchant Marine crew and the armed guard also on board. The S.S. Charles D. McIver was later written off as a total loss.

*Image from the Charles D. McIver (Liberty Ship) subject file
** Image courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room

Monday, July 30, 2018

Campus Regulations Through the Years: Part I

When college students move onto campus, they may no longer be subject to their parents' house rules,but they now have a whole new set of regulations by which to abide. All rules are intended for the students' and the school's protection, but they change with the times. Prior to the late 1960s, colleges and universities operated with the policy of in loco parentis, which is Latin for "in the place of a parent." Students, especially female students, were restricted from doing many things that would be considered basic rights by students today. I have looked through UNCG students' handbooks through the years and want to share some of my favorite regulations.

The student handbook for academic year 1898-1899 does not specify any rules beyond don’t destroy school property and pay for the property you accidentally destroy, but it does note that students should have a pocket in their school dress and to BE SURE “to remember that fine feathers do not make fine birds, and that what you make of yourself in College you will be so long as you live.” Gulp.

Codified regulations first appear in the 1912-1913 handbook, and only for the Library! The first rule, considered so important that it is in italic type is: “Absolutely no promiscuous talking in the Library.”

  • “When necessary to speak to the Librarian, speak in a low tone of voice.” 
  • “A student may have two books charged to her at the same time, only one of which may be fiction.”


By 1917, the handbook specifies “Indoor Rules” (e.g. “The bathrooms and halls shall not be used for studying”) and “Outdoor Rules” (e.g. “Walking period shall be observed by every student every day except Saturday. During walking period every student must be on campus taking exercise, unless excused by College President or physician.)”

They were not kidding around in the 1924-1925 handbook! In that year the it was clearly printed on the title page of the Official Bulletin of Information: "Ignorance of the law does not excuse violation".

To dispel your own ignorance, I draw your attention to the following:
  • "No gasoline, or benzene, and no electrical fixtures except study lamps and standardized curling irons, may be used in the dormitories." I can still get behind the gasoline and benzene ban.
  • "Each student should make her bed by 9 o'clock in the morning." 
  • Although students were permitted "to go to the shoe shop or neighborhood stores until 7:30 p.m.", they were NOT "to stroll on the public streets at any time."

At the end of the Roaring Twenties, freshmen and sophomores were required to turn off their room lights at "10:30 on all nights except for Saturdays when they are to be turned off at 11 o'clock. Juniors must get 8 hours rest a day. They may use their own discretion in regard to lights. Seniors are to use their own discretion in regard to lights." I hope the seniors made wise lights-out choices.

Students' whereabouts continue to be strictly monitored. For example,"All students are to register accurately and promptly before leaving campus and upon their return, except when going to neighborhood stores, to Sunday morning church services and on hikes not lasting more than an hour." I have no idea what the extreme hikers were supposed to do.

Some highlights:
  • "No student is to drive nails or tacks into the walls or paste pennants or pictures on the walls." Which must have been frustrating as the handbook later describes how the campus "Ye Junior Shoppe" (which was run by the junior class) "carries college pillows and pennants and society stationary." How were they supposed to hang their North Carolina College for Women pennants?
  •  In the dining hall the food was served to each table. Students had to receive permission from the hostesses to have guests from other tables sit at their own table and also to leave the table before others have finished. With that being said, the stated preference was that a whole table should leave the dining room altogether.
  • And although this was more of an exhortation than a regulation, I must commend the handbook for "It is wise to spend at least a little part of every day in our library." Hear, hear!

For the first time there needed to be rules for telephone calls! All calls were connected by campus operators and calls made from and to dormitories were “strictly limited to three minutes. Operators are instructed to cut off service at expiration of that time.” I guess those students must have texted a lot?

This year's handbook contains fewer regulations than previous (and subsequent) ones, but it does include some excellent suggestions that are as relevant to today’s students, such as:
  • "Be sure to set aside some time each week for the folks back home. Write letters regularly of the interesting things you are doing on the campus. You will have many new interests here, but they must never crowd out the old relationships which are a part of you."
  • "That in being tolerant of other peoples’ ideals you have grown bigger and stronger."
  • "To make mistakes or you won’t have any reminiscences."

By 1942-1943, there were regulations about radios (“can be played anytime in a student’s room and in the parlors provided they do not disturb others”) and smoking (“Students may smoke on the terraces and in the residence halls, except in the parlors and entrance halls.)

“Social privileges” such as “entertaining a caller” were now based on academic standing. Students with a “C” or better average were allowed more weekend and evening “engagements.”

Regarding riding in automobiles, on horseback, and on bicycles required parental permission and there were different rules for each class. However, all students require special written permission to ride in airplanes.