Monday, November 26, 2012

Athletics and Active College Work

While competitive athletics are a major part of campus life at UNCG, early students had fight for their right to play ball. From its founding, the school (known at the time as the State Normal) emphasized physical activity and personal health. Curriculum in the first year of the school’s existence (1892-1893) included the Department of Physiology and Heath, which had two objectives: instruction in hygiene and an individualized program of exercise. A course in Physical Culture was actually required of all students. The work included gymnastics, calisthenics, and other exercises that were meant to promote the student’s general health and strength. 

Letter from a student to President McIver asking permission
to start a campus Athletic Association, 1898
Students, however, wanted opportunities for athletic competition, not just physical activity. The graduating class of 1900 convinced school president Charles Duncan McIver of the need for a campus Athletic Association and purposefully-built athletic grounds. The campus Athletic Association was formally established in 1900 (15 years before the students established their own student government). By 1902, it had adopted the motto “Athletics and active college work go hand in hand.” In a space that is now the site of the Petty Science Building, the women of the Athletic Association cleared and prepared playing grounds, marked the fields, and installed nets on four tennis courts and basketball goals.

The early Athletic Association, however, was purely intramural, with sponsored tournaments between the freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior classes. As a student noted, “We were taught very strongly the evils that would come from interscholastic sports. This emphasis on winning at any cost was the worst.”

But, in spite of potential evils, a “College Team” was created in 1905 to bring together the best athletes regardless of class. That team, however, didn’t play outside of campus until 1907. Then, they traveled across town for basketball and tennis match-ups against teams from the Greensboro Female College (now Greensboro College). According to the student newspaper, “Fine playing was done by both teams … [but] both the games of Basket Ball and of Tennis resulted in victories for our teams.”

Freshman hockey team, 1913
For the most part, however, team sports were limited to on-campus competitions between the classes. And the Athletic Association led the way in sponsoring activities. By 1914, the group offered events in basketball, tennis, field hockey, baseball, cricket, golf, camping, and gymnastics. They also sponsored May Day, Field Day, and various sports tournaments throughout the year. Through their dedication and persistence, the women of the Athletic Association ensured that athletics would be a strong component of their college life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Typhoid Epidemic of 1899

On November 15, 1899, Linda Tom, a freshman at The State Normal and Industrial College, passed away.  For the past several weeks, she had complained of having a fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and general pain in her abdomen. Doctor Anna Gove, the resident physician at the College, would determine that Linda’s death was the result of typhoid fever.  Typhoid fever, according to WedMD, is “an acute illness associated with fever caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria” which is spread through ingesting contaminated food or water. 

Unfortunately Linda’s death would not be an isolated incident.  Over the next two months, thirteen other students as well as one dormitory matron, would die from the illness.  In addition, over 55 other students would be diagnosed with typhoid fever but would be fortunate enough to recover.  To put some perspective on the severity of the situation, thirteen students was roughly equal to 3% of the student population in 1899.  If 3% of the approximately 18,000 students at UNCG today were to pass away, the number would total around 540 deaths. 

College President Charles D. McIver  and other administrators, struggled mightily to contain the virus and to ensure the continuation of the school. However, in 1899 there was no simple cure for the illness.  The only methods for treating patients and reducing the spread of the virus was to quarantine the sick, disinfect surrounding surfaces, and to provide comforting relief efforts.  One of McIver’s first steps was to close down the school until he felt the disease has been eradicated from the campus.  He then authorized the cleansing of the Brick Dormitory and surrounding buildings to prevent future outbreaks.  This included discarding all of the beds with wooden head and food boards, as well as all mattresses. In addition, all of the woodwork and walls were disinfected using harsh chemical products such as formaldehyde which left a lingering odor.

The financial cost of containing the disease was expensive with repairs and replacements totaling above $8,000.   A recently received $5000 grant from the North Carolina State General Assembly that was supposed to be used to build a much needed new gymnasium was divert to help cover expenses.  As a result, the College went into debt and did not fully recover financially until 1908.

An investigation into what caused the massive outbreak was conducted by the North Carolina Board of Health.  The lead investigator, Dr. Richard H. Lewis, concluded that a central water well located near the Brick Dormitory had become contaminated when sewage leaked into the water from a fractured sewer pipe. As a result of these findings, all three of the water wells on campus were filled in and the College was connected to the City of Greensboro water supply.

 In the United States today, there is very little concern about typhoid fever because of the increase in sanitation standards.  In addition, the treatment for the illness is antibiotics, which can quickly contain the fever and help prevent death. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day Spotlight on UNCG Alumna and Air Force Veteran Charlotte Holder Clinger

The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project (WVHP) was begun in 1998 with the enthusiastic support of Woman's College (the precursor to UNCG) alumnae who were World War II veterans. These vets' oral histories, uniforms and other military related materials formed the foundation of the WVHP. Of the 523 current collections in the WVHP, 111 of these are from women who have UNCG connections, including undergraduate and nursing school alumnae, faculty and veterans who used the G.I. Bill benefits for their education.

One of these alumna is Charlotte Holder Clinger. Clinger was born in 1943 in Asheboro, North Carolina. Her family moved throughout the Carolinas while she was growing up, and moved to Queretaro City, Mexico, for one year when she was a senior in high school. Holder attended Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina, for one year, the University of the Americas in Mexico City for one year, and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). She graduated from UNCG in 1965 with a degree in history.

Clinger joined the air force in August 1967. She attended Officer Training School for three months at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Charlotte Holder Clinger at Officer Training School, 1967

From Clinger's 2006 Oral History Interview:
I set off in August of 1967 to Officer Training School [OTS], and that's a three-month course at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for officers. It's basic training for officers, really, is what it is. But I had no idea what I was getting into. So the day that they said, "Well, we're going to have a lawn party," I thought finally we're doing something that I consider civilized. Well, a lawn party turned out to be us in our gym shorts out there picking grass from between the sidewalks. No kidding.

Clinger then sent to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, for intelligence training in November. While at Lowry, Clinger met her future husband, Noel Clinger.

In fall 1968, Clinger received orders to the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Korat, Thailand, where she was the first woman ever stationed with the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing. She did intelligence briefings and debriefings during that one-year tour, which also included temporary duty at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Air Field.

Clinger briefs air crews, circa 1969. The 553rd Recon Wing's shield, with batcat logo and "Cavete Cattam" (Beware of the Cat) motto, can be seen behind her.

 From Clinger's 2006 Oral History Interview:
So my job was briefing and debriefing, intelligence, basically. I put briefings together to tell the crews what they were going to be facing, what they were going to be doing, how it looked out there, what to stay away from, because if there was something—As slow as the Connie was, if there was something like a SAM, Surface-to-Air Missile, in the area, they needed to change where they were going to be flying, because they couldn't fly over SAMs, they'd be dead. So it was my job to keep them from getting killed. 
Clinger returned to the United States in September 1969 with orders to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas, where she worked in intelligence at the 12th Air Force Headquarters with the Tactical Air Command. 

Clinger poses in the cockpit of a plane while on a Junior Officer's Council trip to an Army base near Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas, circa 1970.

 From Clinger's 2006 Oral History Interview:
I was sent back to Austin, Texas, and was stationed there at Bergstrom where they had F-4s. They had an RF-4 training unit, R for Reconnaissance, what they called RTU [Replacement Training Unit]. That was an interesting tour also. I was at 12th Air Force Headquarters in their intelligence office, so I went out and did a lot of assistance visits. On the occasion when they went to a recce [reconnaissance] unit, I went out as part of the IG team, the Inspector General team.
In January 1973, Clinger returned to Southeast Asia, this time assigned to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base. She initially did intelligence work for F-111 fighter bombers, then worked as wing executive officer under Colonel Thomas Lacy.

Clinger speaks to Colonel Lacy while stationed at Takhli Air Force Base in Thailand in 1973.

Clinger returned to Austin in July 1973. In December 1973 She married Noel Clinger and transferred back to Lowry AFB, where they both taught in the intelligence school. In 1975, Charlotte Clinger resigned active duty and joined a reserve unit of the Air Force Intelligence Service based at Lowry, while working on a master's degree at the University of Northern Colorado. In the late 1970s, the Clingers joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and moved to Fairfax, Virginia. During that time Clinger also became the first woman to command a Joint Military Reserve Training Command unit, which she did from 1991 to 1994. Clinger retired from the reserve as a full colonel in 1994 and retired from the CIA in 2001.

Colonel Charlotte Holder Clinger (center, in civilian attire) receives a certificate from Lieutenant General John Gordon, joined by Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy, circa 1994.

 From Clinger's 2006 Oral History Interview:

When I made full colonel, which is unusual, there aren't many women full colonels, particularly not in reserve, I became the unit commander. So I was the first female commander of that unit, Joint Military Reserve Training Command. Then later, and that was from '91 to '94 was my last command. Then I retired in '94, November of 1994, and in 1997 CIA gave me an award as a woman military pioneer in their fiftieth anniversary, which I was very proud of. It was one of—because one of the reasons they wanted to acknowledge me was that I was the first woman commander of a Joint Military Reserve Command unit.
From Clinger's 2006 Oral History Interview:

Interviewer: You said that there were several negatives about being a woman in the military. What do you think the biggest ones were?

Clinger: The perception that you don't belong there. I didn't get that feeling most of the time, almost never. I felt like I belonged and did a job, but there are still people, women more than men, who are outside the military who feel that women don't belong in the military. You know, you feel like—I feel like, who are they to say what your calling is? Who is any human being to say what another person's calling is? I feel that way about all things that women aspire to or men aspire to. Who is anybody else to say what your calling is, whether it's being a minister or a nurse or a doctor or in the military? If it's your calling, the thing that you can do well, meaning the thing that you can do well, press on, you know, press on.
To learn more about Charlotte Holder Clinger, visit her WVHP page:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Black Power Forum of 1967

Throughout the 1960s, Greensboro served as a key site for the civil rights movement. After the Sit Ins and protests of the early 1960s, the middle of the decade saw the ideals of black self-determination and pride being spread throughout Greensboro and the nation. The term “Black Power” first entered the national consciousness through Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leader Stokely Carmichael’s speech at the March Against Fear in 1966. Black Power soon became known as a movement for solidarity within the black community and the fight for racial independence.

Agenda for November 1, 1967,
the first day of the Black Power Forum
While students at North Carolina A&T University stood as leaders in the movement, discussions were not limited to the area’s historically black colleges and universities. On November 1-3, 1967, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro played host to a controversial Black Power Forum, organized in large part by the UNCG Student Government Association to “inform students and faculty members of this movement and its actions and to give us a chance to discuss Black Power, its history, its political and social implications for us and the nation.” 

The forum was organized around three topics: “Black Power past and present,” “the ghetto,” and “Black Power and the self-image of the Negro.” Speakers from across the country were brought in for presentations and discussions held in Cone Ballroom. Attendance the first day was judged “poor” with fewer than 75 attendees at the initial session, but by Thursday evening attendance had grown to 800. A UNCG report summarizing activities after the conclusion of the Forum noted “that off-campus people outnumbered UNCG students and faculty, that they were primarily Negroes and males, that a considerable number of them seemed to be sympathetic toward the concepts of Black Power, and that they often expressed their feelings with applause or cheers.”

The Forum did not occur without controversy. Editorials and essays declared that the University had been “used” by activists with a specific agenda. Rumors abounded that Ku Klux Klan members planned to attend the Forum, and UNCG Chancellor James Ferguson was forced to ask police officers with the City of Greensboro to attend each of the scheduled sessions to “guard against possible trouble.”

Black Power Forum participants, 1967
Additionally, administrators expressed concern that the sessions “did not produce a detached, objective examination of the ideas of Black Power but were given over to vigorous exhortations in support and advocacy of the movement.” But they could not deny that the Forum provided students with a learning opportunity. As stated in the UNCG report, “today’s students, today’s citizenry in general must learn all they can about the nature of Black Power and the forces that brought it into being. They need to be aware of the task before them. Above all, they should not wait until a crisis develops – until there is a riot in the streets – to gain knowledge of this troublesome subject.”