Monday, December 10, 2018

Revitalizing Spring Garden Press

A.B. Taylor & Company No. 2 Iron Hand Press
Tucked away in a hallway just outside of Martha Blakeney Hodges Reading Room on the second floor of Jackson Library’s main building is a 19th century printing press. Over the last several decades, the press has been used primarily by library staff for class demonstrations or to print small editioned items such as bookplates and broadsides.

When the press first arrived in the library in the early 1960s, it was in pieces and was missing a necessary toggle joint required for operation. Prior to the Internet Age, finding the missing parts or even a press of the same type to serve as a model for creating new parts was a tedious and time-consuming task. Charles Adams, the library director at the time of the arrival of the press, began writing letters with the goal of finding parts for the press. After a decade of letter writing, Adams turned over the search to Stan Hicks, the assistant library director at the time.

Charles Adams, Library Director at the time
the press was given to Jackson Library
Hicks, too, began writing letters trying to find either the missing parts or a similar press from which to create a model of the missing joint. Finally, in 1975, Hicks located another A.B. Taylor and Company No. 2 press in Mechanicsburg, PA. Pictures and sketches of the press were taken to make a wooden model of the toggle joint. At last, the press was in operation.



Drawing of the missing toggle joint based on a press
found in Mechanicsburg, PA in the early 1970s
Stan Hicks takes over the task of writing
letters to find the missing parts





















Spring Garden Press has been the imprint of the library’s A.B. Taylor Company No. 2 Iron Hand Press housed in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) since becoming operational in the 1970s. The name was inspired by Spring Garden Street that runs through campus and serves as the university’s address.

View of Spring Garden Street in 2000

Throughout the 1970s to the early 2000s, members of the library staff letterpress printed commemorative broadsides, bookplates, and conducted many demonstrations of the press for UNCG faculty and students. Classes learned firsthand about printing history, including how type is set, how a form is inked for printing, and how the 19th century press transferred ink to paper.

Left: Emilie Mills, Special Collections Librarian, 1975
Right: The first item printed under the imprint Spring Garden Press
As time passed, fewer and fewer library staff knew how to operate the press and Spring Garden Press fell dormant for a few years. However, thanks to a generous Innovation and Program Enrichment grant received from the library, the circa 1850s printing press has been revitalized with the goal of engaging students, faculty, staff, and members of the greater Greensboro community.

SCUA staff training with Sarah Smith in November 2018
In November 2018, Sarah Smith, of Dartmouth College Library’s Book Arts Workshop, taught an iron hand press workshop for SCUA staff. The revitalization of Spring Garden Press was celebrated on November 29, 2018 as faculty, staff, and community members gathered to learn about the press, how it will be used in collaboration with folks both on campus and beyond, and to see a demonstration of its use. Once again, this press has been elevated from archaic artifact to an active tool of engagement with our community.

Keepsake coaster printed during the Revitalization of
Spring Garden Press event in November 2018
To learn more about the history of this antique printing press and how it came to UNCG, please click HERE.





Monday, December 3, 2018

Lighting the Campus with Luminaries

At 7am on a December morning in 1969, a number of UNCG students gathered in front of the Elliott University Center with 2000 candles, white paper bags, soufflé cups, and a really big pile of sand. With these supplies, they started a campus tradition which continues today: the annual luminaries display.

Alumni House with luminaries
Before the project could begin, Kim Ketchum, president of the UNCG senior class of 1970, presented the idea for the display to Katherine Taylor, dean of students, and to Terry Weaver, manager of the Elliott University Center. They agreed to allow the students to proceed with the display, and ultimately, the project received the blessing of Chancellor James S. Ferguson. Chancellor Ferguson provided money to purchase the sand and candles from his discretionary fund. The white bags and soufflé cups were donated by the cafeteria.

Throughout the day, students stopped by to help assemble the luminaries. They carefully placed sand and a candle (balanced on the soufflé cup) in each bag. Ketchum and six other students used a Physical Plant vehicle to position the luminaries strategically along the campus streets. Around 6pm, students emerged from the residence halls to light the candles. As the luminaries burned, groups sang Christmas carols around the campus and gathered to drink hot cider and hot chocolate around a bonfire that burned in a metal pit. 

Ketchum recalled, “It was a success then, and it’s very gratifying that our class started a tradition that endures to this day. I think that this probably was the first large luminary display in Guilford County, and the rest of the area picked up on it.” 

Luminaries at Fountain Plaza, 1995
UNCG’s sororities and fraternities carry on this tradition today, preparing the luminaries, lighting them, and cleaning up. In 2011 sustainable luminaries were introduced, which decreased prep-time and eliminated potential hazards. And, as is part of the campus tradition, when the candles burn out, students return to their studies, as Fall semester final exams loom in the immediate future.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mary Settle Sharpe: Keen in Intelligence, Kindly at Heart, and Democratic in Sympathy

Mary Settle Sharpe (1863-1944) was a woman ahead of her time, in both education and politics. She was an early member of the faculty of State Normal and Industrial College (UNC Greensboro) and was also the first woman nominated for public office in the state of North Carolina after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Mary Settle Sharpe
The daughter of a Rockingham County judge and politician, she attended Salem Academy and graduated from St. Mary’s School in Raleigh before marrying Edgecombe County lawyer Benjamin Charles Sharpe in 1884. The Sharpes moved to Greensboro in 1897 and would eventually have six children. In 1896, Mary became one of the first married women faculty members at the State Normal, residing with her family in a house near campus on South Mendenhall Street.  She became known for her friendliness, her beautiful singing voice, her impressive literary interpretations, and her tireless interest in the students in her charge. Equally popular with students and faculty, Professor William C. Smith described Mary as “keen in intellect, yet kindly at heart and democratic in sympathy … always gracious, courteous, just and true.”

During the early years of State Normal, the faculty was not always specialized and Mary taught a variety of classes across several departments. Her positions included Director of Physical Training, Instructor of History, and Head of the Department of Expression. Mary’s efforts were especially appreciated in the area of campus productions. As chairman of the faculty committee on entertainments, she was in charge of student plays and the school’s May Day festivals. Especially elaborate were the May Day celebrations held in the years 1912 and 1916, which involved the participation of State Normal students and faculty, as well as the younger children who attended the practice school on campus. These particular pageants included parades down College Avenue, a variety of plays presented on the school grounds, and the crowning of the May Queen.

Elizabethan Court, 1916
Always an advocate of women’s rights, Mary resigned from the college in 1920, after the passage of the 19th Amendment, to become more involved in politics. It is not surprising that she felt drawn to this vocation, as she came from generations of politicians and public servants. Her father, Thomas Settle, Jr., had been a lawyer and the son of a Congressional Representative from North Carolina, also named Thomas Settle. He held important positions in the state government, serving as a legislator, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, State Solicitor, and Associate Judges of the Supreme Court. Settle also helped found the state’s Republican Party during Reconstruction, and was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant to a seat on the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Mary’s brother, Thomas Settle III, also had an illustrious career in the government.

Judge Thomas Settle, Jr.
Mary, like her family, had always been interested in politics. She was considered “progressive and impatient with all forms of injustice.” Mary served as the chair of the state Republican Executive Committee for Women and accepted the Republican nomination for state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1920. She wrote letters and spoke at events throughout the state asking for support – “especially from the ladies.” Only a month after women had gained the right to vote, she wrote a letter to the “Womanhood of North Carolina,” laying out a platform that would “lift North Carolina’s school system out of partisan politics” and “educate all the children of all the people.” She also advocated for better salaries for teachers.

Mary’s candidacy had wide and enthusiastic support from her former colleagues and students at North Carolina College for Women,* who attended many of her talks.  She traveled the state attending local political events and encouraging the women of North Carolina to “help purify the ballot box” and urged women to exercise their new right to vote. Hailed as an “eloquent and captivating” speaker, Mary campaigned for the improvement of education and the importance of citizenship. Although she lost the election, she remained very involved in state politics, chairing the state organization of women.

Mary Settle Sharpe Event
 Mary lived over eighty years. Growing ill at the end of her life, she spent her last eight months at Cox Restorium in Winston-Salem. She was buried next to her husband at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery in Ashe County where they had kept a country home. Mary has been honored by UNC Greensboro on several occasions since her death in 1944. In 1997, she was inaugurated into the UNC Greensboro’s Theatre Hall of Fame for her encouragement of the dramatic program during the early years of the school. Additionally, the University established the Mary Settle Sharpe Award for Teaching Excellence, recognizing outstanding success in facilitating student learning. There is also a conference room dedicated to her memory in the Elliott University Center.

* State Normal had changed its name to North Carolina College for Women in 1919.

Monday, November 19, 2018

100 Years Later: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 hits State Normal

In 1918, an influenza pandemic began to spread across the globe. In the U.S., about 28% of the population became infected, and 500,000 to 675,000 people died over the course the next two years. The campus of the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG) was, of course, not immune to this easily-transmitted disease. In October 1918, the disease found the College, and campus administrators had to made quick decisions on the best course of action to protect the students and limit the spread of the flu.

Instead of suspending operations as some schools did at the time, State Normal President Julius Foust made the decision to instead quarantine students to the campus. From October through December, students were unable to leave campus, and guests were not permitted to visit. One alumnae wrote:

Wooden Dormitory (approximate site of the Alumni House today)
"It was that fall when the Fourth Horseman on his livid steed was abroad in the land. Pestilence, in the form of deadly influenza epidemic, was sweeping the country. No city, village, or hamlet was spared. It reached the campus as I remember in October. Several hundred girls contracted it ... A rigid quarantine was enforced. No one was allowed to leave the campus, no going to town, no weekends at home, only walks into the country were permitted."

Several hundred students were infected -- so many that the campus infirmary could not hold them all. Wooden Dormitory (also known as Guilford Hall) was converted into a makeshift hospital. But fortunately, none of the students contracted pneumonia, and no deaths resulted. As President Foust wrote in his unpublished history of the College, "This was remarkable in view of the fact that many more people died from flu in this country than were killed in the war [note: Foust is referring to World War I]. Both faculty and students had relatives and friends in the army and frequently a report would come that a loved one had been killed or died from influenza, but these sorrows were endured with Christian fortitude."

The pledge signed by students prior to leaving campus in December 1918
By December, the influenza outbreak on campus had subsided enough that Foust decided that the students should be allowed to return home for the holiday break. But each student was required to sign an agreement pledging to report any illnesses in their home, avoid possible sources of the disease, and reporting to the infirmary for a health assessment immediately upon returning to the school.

When the holiday period end and student returned to State Normal, they faced a week of final exams. But, as soon as those were complete, they began to celebrate the end of the semester and of the full campus quarantine by planning a large gala event for the evening of February 3, 1919. As reported in the Greensboro Daily News:

"Memories of long, dreary weeks of quarantine were forgotten, and mirth reigned supreme through the spacious dining hall, when at 7:30 o'clock last evening students of the State Normal and Industrial College participated in one of the most elaborate entertainments in the history of the college.

The first event of the evening was, perhaps, the most impressive when 700 young ladies, dressed in quaint costumes, formed a long, gala procession and passed in review before the judging members of the faculty ... After the procession had ended a unique program, arranged by Misses Clarence Winder and Lula Martin McIver, was given, including farce scenes of "what might have been" and "what actually happened" during the quarantine. A liberal sprinkling of humor was traced through the numerous sketches given, and the effect was indeed ludicrous.

During the latter hours of the evening a delightful dance was given in which the majority of the young ladies participated. Between dances several vaudeville sketches were presented, including aesthetic dancing, ballet scenes in which the students were dressed in colonial costumes, "buck and wing dancing," and other forms of the Terpischorean art."

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Library as a Hub of Learning (Part Three)


Since the school’s founding in 1892, the library has played a key role in supporting faculty research and student learning.  From its humble beginnings in a small classroom to its current prominent location at the center of campus, 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 third and final blog post about the history of the library at UNCG will examine the profound changes in its collections, services, access tools, and spaces between the years 1973 to 2013.

College Ave Entrance to Jackson Library

 By the start of the 1973 fall academic term, the multi-story tower project was completed and open to students.  The renovation of the 1950 portion of the library complex began in December 1973 and was completed within ten months.  The new library addition provided 119,000 square feet of floor space.  This new space increased the overall number of study carrels and public seating as well as shelving for books.  The library director Dr. James Thompson confidently declared that the new space was designed to house a total of one million volumes.  He expected the library to reach its storage capacity within 10 to 15 years.

Jackson Library and Statue of President McIver

 
During the 1970s, academic libraries were feeling the impact of new computer technology and resources.  In April 1977, Jackson Library offered a new service to its faculty.  Employing a computer terminal, library staff provided users with bibliographies that drew on forty computerized data files.   Thus, if a faculty member was looking to assemble a bibliography for a research project, they could pay a fee (ten to thirty dollars) for librarians to search data files and compile a single print out of a list of potential useful titles.  This service would allow the researcher to skip the task of looking up the titles of scholarly works in bound print indexes.  By the early 1980s, the library automated its serials list and joined a national inter-library loan network of 2,400 libraries.

Within six years of the completion of the construction and renovation projects, the library was reporting a space crunch.  Additional shelving units were being added on the floors of the new tower building.  To accommodate this new shelving, the library was forced to give up space for public seating and even some staff offices.  In 1982, the library reported that the library’s holdings of books approached 600,000.  Between 1970 and 1982, the library’s book holdings increased from 320,118 to 594,325.   The libraries total holdings of books, journals, and micro-texts grew from 466,999 in 1970 to 1,393,522 in 1982.  This rapid expansion of materials was intended to support the demands of an active research university.  Interestingly, the library director in 1982 gravely noted that due to the inflationary costs of books and journals as well as deep state budget cuts, the rate of purchases actually slowed thus preventing even a worse space crunch.   Along with collection growth, the library more than tripled its personnel and added new services that put additional strain on library space. 

Jackson Library Tower

 With steady advances in library technology, Jackson Library actively sought to adopt new practices and technologies to improve collection management and user services.   For example, the library undertook the reclassification of its entire holdings and moved from the Dewey Decimal System to the Library of Congress Classification System.  The goal of this 1983 project was to align with the best practices of its peer institutions.  In 1984, the library acquired its first public stand along “micro-computer.”  The computer was an IBM PC with twin diskette drives and a 10 megabyte hard drive.

In 1986, library moved forward in purchasing an integrated online computer system.  It was affectionately called JACLIN.  The acronym stood for Jackson Library Information Network.  It was an online catalog with circulation, acquisition, and serials components.  To support the adoption of this integrated system, the library in 1987 took on the challenge of assigning an individual bar code to each of its 700,000 books.  The library’s 70 staff members were tasked with affixing bar codes to books and inputting the data into the new automated system.  During the 1989 fall semester, the JACLIN system went live.  Books were now being checked out to patrons by scanning the code on the borrower’s University ID as well as on the book’s assigned bar code.  With twelve computer terminals installed within the card catalog area of the library, patrons could now gain instant access to an individual book’s circulation status and location.  The new library director Doris Hulbert noted that the automated system also allowed patrons to search if a book was located at any of the other UNC system school libraries.  With an estimated 9 million catalog cards stored in the catalog area, Hulbert remarked that “many of us have a great fondness for the card catalog, and there is some trepidation about seeing such an old friend go.  But once people get used to the old system, they’ll see how helpful it can be.”  In 1993, the library completed the removal of the wooden cabinets and cards of its old card catalog system.

With the removal of its card catalog, the library was able to free up space to accommodate new services and technologies.  In 1994, a teaching lab was developed to assist faculty and students on accessing online data bases.  The newly constructed space was named the Electronic Center for Information Technology and Instruction (CITI) lab.  It contained 20 multimedia NCR 486 computers, a computer file server, a projector, desks and chairs, and other support equipment. Along with the new classroom and equipment, the library hired its first electronic resources information librarian to teach students how to effectively locate and integrate online content into their research.  The designated information literacy sessions sought to nurture student critical thinking skills by comparing and contrasting traditional and electronic resources.  Recognizing the campus demand for access to personal computers in 1997, the library repurposed 7,200 square feet of space and partnered with the University’s Information Technology Services to establish a computer lab for students.  The space was called the Super Lab.  It was the largest open access computer lab on campus with 125 individual work stations.  

With opening of the University’s new Music Building in 1999, the library was able to move its music collections to a designated library space within the elegant modern structure.  Jackson Library still served as the central library for the campus.  But, the new music library served as a satellite library that met an important teaching and research need.  In 2012, the music library was named to honor Dr. Harold A. Schiffman who is a Greensboro native and music educator.  Schiffman made a $2 million planned gift to the University.  The library now began to refer to itself as University Libraries. 

Harold  Schiffman Music Library

 
During the decades following the construction of the tower, Jackson Library transformed itself to meet the research needs of its faculty and students during a time of rapid technological change.  Indeed, the budget of the library was shifting in terms of monies allocated towards the purchase of physical books and monies for the purchase of electronic resources.   To be sure, the library continued to purchase books.  In 2001, Jackson Library celebrated the purchase of its one millionth volume.  To mark this milestone, the library purchased a rare first edition of William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job.  It was one of only 315 copies produced in 1826, a year before Blake’s death.  Including its one millionth volume, the library in 2001 had over 2.3 million items and over 140 databases and 3,000 web pages.   

The pace of change in libraries and in higher education caused by technology seemed to accelerate at the start of the new millennium.  Jackson Library strove to adopt additional access tools and services to support faculty research and student learning.  At the same time, the student population of the University was growing.  So, the number of folks using library resources was increasing.  Due to the heavy demand and steady increase in the student body, there were a number of conceptual plans were developed that envisioned the construction of new adjoining structures that accommodated new instructional spaces, collection storage, tech labs, and even a café.  Yet, the price tag for these plans was of a significant dollar amount. 

In the mean-time, the Dean of University Libraries, Rosann Bazirjian, recognized that Jackson Library needed to do more with its current space.  In 2008, the library conducted a space assessment study to consider a number of smaller renovation projects.  These proposed projects included the construction of: an information commons, meeting spaces, storage space for special collections, as well as the relocation of the circulation desk.  Over the next five years, the library diligently acted on many of these proposed library enhancements.  In addition to these projects, the library identified an emerging need for a space to support students who create multi-media projects.  The new space would be called the Digital Media Commons (DMC).  Library staff would assist students with the development of web pages, digital images, digital video, and PowerPoint presentations.  In 2012, the library repurposed a collection storage area in its lower level to accommodate the DMC.  This renovated space housed a service desk, consultation rooms, four student collaboratories, numerous individual computer stations, scanning stations, a gaming lab, a presentation practice room, a recording space, and several digital editing rooms.  Within a year of its launch, the DMC would expand its services to include 3-D printers.

3-D Printer in the Digital Media Commons
 
This is the third and final blog post related to the history of the library at UNC Greensboro.  The three blog posts sought to document the critical role the library has played in supporting faculty research and instruction and student learning.  The library’s dedicated and skilled staff have always offered innovative solutions to meet emerging research trends, changing instructional and technical needs, and shifts in scholarly communication.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lettie Hamlett Rogers - An Alumna, Author, and Instructor with International Roots

Lettie Hamlett Rogers writing, 1946.

Lettie Hamlett Rogers, who both attended and taught at Woman’s College (now UNC Greensboro), led an extraordinary and varied life, often using her experiences to fuel her writings. Rogers was born in Suzhou (or Soochow), China, on September 16, 1917, to the missionaries Reverend P.W. Hamlett and Mrs. Lettie Hamlett.

She spent her childhood in both China and Japan, learning to speak Chinese before she learned to speak English. From early in her life, Rogers experienced hardship and strife. Rogers experienced the Chinese civil wars during 1925 and 1927 as a refugee in Japan. She was separated from her father, who stayed in China as one of the few remaining missionaries.

Rogers attended Shanghai American School before moving to the United States to attend Woman’s College. Rogers graduated from Woman’s College in 1940 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. Like her parents, Rogers spent some time in China teaching and was classified as a missionary. She then joined the faculty of the University as an assistant professor in the Sociology Department in 1941.

During her time teaching in the Sociology Department, Rogers became increasingly dedicated to her writing. After suffering a bout of influenza in 1942, she spent her lengthy recovery reading numerous mystery novels. Rogers declared she could produce better stories and tried her hand at writing mysteries. In additional to her battle with influenza, Rogers was also affected by World War II. Rogers' parents and other missionaries were imprisoned in Japan, but were exchanged for Japanese prisoners in the United States in 1942.

Despite all of the hardships she faced in 1942, she kept working on her mystery story. Her first mystery was unpublished, but she enrolled in a writing course with Hiram Hayden at Woman’s College in 1943. That same year, she left her position at Woman’s College to dedicate herself full-time to her writing.

Rogers was a published writer throughout most of her adulthood, beginning her writing career with an article on China in Asia magazine in 1944. Rogers went on to publish prolifically, producing four novels, including South of Heaven, The Storm Cloud, Landscape of the Heart, and Birthright.

Typescript and corrections for "The Storm Cloud," 1951.

During her literary career, Rogers returned to Woman’s College, joining the English faculty in 1948. Rogers was instrumental in developing a strong writing program at Woman’s College.

However, Rogers resigned from her position in 1955 due to the controversial censure of the staff of the Coraddi, the art and literary magazine of Woman’s College, over a Fall 1954 issue. Rogers, along with several other faculty/staff, resigned in protest of the censure of the Coraddi staff for publishing a pen and ink drawing of a nude man. (To read more about the controversy, read our Spartan Stories post here.)
Rogers's letter of resignation sent to Chancellor Graham, 1955.

Despite leaving the English department at Woman’s College, Rogers continued writing. Many of her novels drew from her own life experience, perhaps none more so than her debut novel, South of Heaven. The novel focused on familiar territory for Rogers – a child of Western heritage who was living in China, struggling to find her place in the world. Other novels focused on China between 1925-1927, American mental hospitals, and a Southern town much like her residence in Morganton, N.C.

All of Rogers’ novels were met with some acclaim. Her last novel, Birthright, was issued as the April book by the Literary Guild and was well-received critically.

Rogers had been sick of several years, undergoing treatments for cancer in New York City at Mount Sinai Hospital when Birthright was published. Rogers passed away in 1957 at the age of 39, after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was buried in Morganton, N.C.

Although Rogers died at a tragically early age, she accomplished a great deal as a student, educator, missionary, and author. Her impact on UNC Greensboro and North Carolina literature are pronounced.

The Lettie Hamlett Rogers Papers are housed in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). Rogers donated her papers the the University in the 1950s. If you would like to learn more about Rogers or the collection, visit the finding aid for the collection here
Lettie Hamlett Rogers, undated.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Ghosts of UNCG: A Special, Spooky Spartan Story!

To celebrate Halloween, we repeat this blog post, originally posted in October 2012 by Hermann Trojanowski, who retired from Special Collections and University Archives in 2013. We hope you enjoy this extra spooky Spartan Story.

Spencer Residence Hall
Tales have long circulated about the ghosts that allegedly haunt the campus.  In the late 1960s, the Spencer Residence Hall ghost was known simply as "The Blue Ghost" or "The Woman in Blue." In the early 1980s, students gave her the name "Annabelle," possibly alluding to the subject of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem "Annabel Lee."

Legend has it that Annabelle is the spirit of a student who hanged herself many years ago in one of the building’s bell towers; however, no such suicide has ever been documented.  A member of the residence hall staff reported that Annabelle had "appeared as a blue shadow" on two occasions in the Spencer’s main parlor and when the building was closed for the Summer in 1976, the same staff member heard the ghost "dragging something on the floor out in the lobby." There have been other reports of a blue haze passing by a second-floor laundry room and of objects being flung across rooms.

In South Spencer in the early 1980s, an apparition reportedly awakened two different staff member on two separate occasions by walking into their rooms. The building had been closed for vacations both times. It is not known whether this was Annabelle or another ghost or ghosts.

Mary Foust Residence Hall
Build in 1928, Mary Foust Residence Hall was named for Mary Foust Armstrong, daughter of the college’s second president, Julius Isaac Foust.  Mary was a member of the class of 1920 – she died in childbirth in 1925. Some believe that her ghost took up residence in the dormitory that bears her name, because rumors have floated around for years about random "unexpected crying" and "funny noises" on the hall’s second floor.  Mary Foust’s portrait, which had hung above the fireplace, disappeared some time back without a trace.  Another rumor about Mary Foust Hall was that in the 1950s, three nursing students hanged themselves from the rafters in the attic.  Investigations have shown that the structure of the beams would make hanging very difficult but still the rumors persist.

The campus' most well documented ghost reportedly inhabits UNCG (formerly Aycock) Auditorium, which opened in 1927.  An interview with Raymond Taylor who taught drama and play presentation and was the director of dramatic activities on campus from 1921 until his retirement in 1960, reveals that Taylor not only believed in the ghost of UNCG Auditorium, but recounts his personal experiences with the ghost. 

Raymond Taylor
According to Taylor, "at one time a sort of colonial mansion stood on the corner where Aycock is.  There dwelt in this mansion an old lady all-alone.  After a while she became extremely unhappy about her lonely state and went up in the attic and suspended herself from a rope on the rafters.  Having committed suicide there, she determined to stay on as a ghost.  When they tore down the building, she haunted the area for a long time until Aycock was finally built, and then she adopted that for her home.  She seemed, when I knew her to delight in the upper reaches of Aycock foyer where she assumed the guise of lights that flitted from ceiling place to ceiling place and dragging chains and clanking objects over the floor down in the lobby up to my office door."

Taylor goes on to tell the story of an incident that occurred one afternoon when he and the auditorium's janitor were working on the set for a play.  The whole building was locked up, and since it had been an extremely hot afternoon, he and the janitor undressed down to their briefs to work.  Taylor had left his clothes neatly in a pile.  During the afternoon, a storm came up that raged and roared for quite a while and after the storm was over, Taylor went upstairs to dress and found that his clothes had been disarranged.  He had been wearing a vest with a watch chain across it, and his watch chain had been arranged on the table in the form of a cross.  His other clothes were "helter skelter all over the place." Taylor just knew this was the work of the ghost of UNCG Auditorium.
UNCG Auditorium

Many nights, while working in the auditorium, Taylor would hear all sorts of strange noises.  He tried to explain some of them by saying that they were the echoes of passing cars or the reverberations of the passing trains shaking the building, but one night he and a colleague, Jimmy Hogue, were sitting in his officer around midnight talking.  Hogue was sitting with his back to the door.  All of a sudden the door opened, and a cold air came in, and they heard the receding clank of chains.  They got up and turned on the lights in the hallway and looked all over, but could never find an explanation for that occurrence.

Jane Aycock
Students have given the auditorium's spirit a name, Jane Aycock, and say that she is the daughter of the man for whom the auditorium was previously named; but Governor Charles Brantley Aycock, whose two wives bore him nine children, had no daughter by that name.  Supposedly she killed herself in the auditorium, a noose around her neck, her body dangling from the fly-loft over the auditorium stage. But the only deaths the auditorium has witnessed have been those acted out on stage, not over it.

According to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal in 1977, written when the auditorium was 50 years old and was getting ready to reopen after renovations, the drama majors were so attached to the specter that it became something of a tradition to introduce her to new students. "An unsuspecting freshman would be handed a lighted candle and shown the stairway leading to the attic, reportedly the ghost’s favorite turf.  Then the drama majors… would solemnly watch as the flickering flame floated away into the gloom.  They knew there was a certain spot in the attic where a draft always blew out the candle.  It would take a few minutes for the novice spook chaser’s eyes to adjust to the darkness.  Then, the victim would see a shape – a human shape – shimmering in the inky blackness.  The drama majors always got a kick out of hearing the screams that usually followed.  It’s surprising what a coat of luminescent paint can do for a manikin borrowed from the theater’s prop shop."

Monday, October 22, 2018

Student Life at Ye Junior Shoppe

Today, UNCG students can find small shops selling snacks and other sundries in various places across campus. But in the earlier years of the university, the on-campus shopping options were significantly fewer - and often run by the students themselves.

In 1913, the junior class decided to raise money to support their annual banquet and dance through sale of hot soup, hot chocolate, and sandwiches from a small basement kitchenette in the Curry Building. Both college students and students at the Curry School were able to purchase these lunches. Each item cost five cents. This was a time consuming job, however, and in the late 1910s, they shifted their focus to a small stand in the campus post office that sold pennants, hairnets, and other small items. The stand, which was dubbed Ye Junior Shoppe, also served as a site for coordinating the development of film.

Entrance to the Junior Shoppe,
Administration Building (now Foust)
Dormitory-based shops were the next evolution in student-led campus stores. One junior in each dormitory would serve as an in-residence sales person for high-demand items like hairpins. The stand in the campus post office continued as well. A poem in the January 22, 1921 issue of The Carolinian student newspaper advertised the shop:

Patronize "Ye Junior Shoppe" at all times,
Save up your nickles and your dimes,
To buy of its many wares and novelties,
You can get necessities and frivolities,
And too, it is so near at hand;
Right in the post office is the Junior Stand.

In the 1922-1923 school year, President Julius Foust allowed the junior class to open a formal store in a designated location on campus. The shop operated in some years in the Students' Building; in others it had a space in the Administration Building (now Foust). They sold items including snacks, camera film, hair nets, picture postcards of campus, memory books, and college rings. In its first year of operation, the shop made a profit of $800.

Over the years, the inventory of the store grew.. In 1931, the shop installed tables and chairs and began selling sandwiches and cold drinks. By the mid-1940s, it was so successful that the store's annual profit grew to nearly $12,000. In a 1990 oral history interview, Margaret Daniel Wilkerson Thurston (class of 1949) noted, "the room probably should have held twenty people, and there would be two hundred in there." Chancellor Walter Clinton Jackson argued that this was more money than the junior class needed, so, in 1945, the college took over operations of the shop.

Students at the Soda Shop, 1955
Renamed the Soda Shop, it moved in 1948 into a new building on College Avenue. This building was located on the former site of the Wooden Dormitory (also known as Little Guilford), which had just been demolished. Profits from the Soda Shop were used to finance student scholarships.

1949 also saw the demolition of the old Students' Building and, soon after, the construction of the new Elliott Hall, which opened in 1953. In the early 1960s, Elliott Hall added a small cafeteria, which was also known as the Soda Shop. The next-door soda shop building was then transformed into a faculty center in 1963.

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.