Monday, January 28, 2013

A Most Deserving Student

Phoebe Pegram
Today's post was written by Jessica Howard, a senior history major. Jessica interned in Special Collections and University Archives during the fall semester. Here, she writes about a special medal given to Phoebe Pegram, a student in the first class of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG).
Currently kept in the Adornments and Medals Series of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Archives Collection, the Peabody Medal, won by Phoebe Pegram, is an object with an undeniably intriguing history. One of over 350 objects in the collection, it is one of four medals currently in the artifacts collection. This medal is one of a small amount of objects in the artifacts collection from the period when the university was called the State Normal and Industrial School and presents a fascinating study into school’s early history.

The medal is one of the most unique in the collection, and at first glance, an observer would not even think that it was a medal. The Peabody Medal is fashioned in the casing of a pocket watch. It is unknown if the medal came to Pegram like this, or if she later had the plates set into the pocket watch casing. It is most likely that Pegram had the plate put into the pocket watch, as other recipients only received the two plates. The bronze plates commemorate Curry presenting the medal to Phoebe and the man the medal is named for, George Peabody.  Peabody is regarded as the first great education philanthropist and donated to many different schools.
Phoebe Pegram's Peabody Medal

On May 17, 1897, the medal was given to a student at the State Normal that had never given before and has never been given since. J.L.M. Curry awarded the Peabody Medal to Phoebe Pegram of Surry County. In her autobiography, Pegram recalls how the event occurred, stating “J.L.M. Curry announced that he wanted to give a medal to the girl whom Dr. McIver and the faculty would name as deserving. Dr. McIver said that he thought that he spoke the minds of the faculty when he named Phoebe Pegram of Surry County.” She stayed at the State Normal and Industrial School for six years, two of which she spent being a teaching assistant in physical culture.  Although she struggled with her schoolwork, Phoebe was very well liked by faculty and students alike. 

Phoebe stayed at the school for six years, and taught in the physical culture for two of those years, as she became better at the Indian clubs than the instructor.  She was very well loved by her peers and by the subsequent classes of students, as she always made time in her schedule to come back for reunions. The University Archives has video of her at one reunion demonstrating the Indian clubs and how fit she was. This video was taken when she was in her eighties.  One thing is for certain, she never forgot the honor and treasured it above all the others that she received. In a letter to the University’s archivist at the time, Phoebe Pegram’s daughter, also named Phoebe, tells Marjorie Hood what the medal meant to her mother. “I do not exaggerate when I say it was her most prized possession.”  And Phoebe, herself, wrote “I cherish it more than any of my treasures.”

While looks can be deceiving when it comes to the medal disguised as a pocket watch, it was once one of the greatest achievements in a young woman’s life. The Peabody Medal is among many great and interesting artifacts from the university’s history, but it as unique as its recipient.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Campus Drawings of Warren Henry Manning

In 1987, Carolyn Owen, a grounds maintenance staff member at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, transferred five blue prints, eighteen drawings, and one sepia print of campus buildings and grounds that she had found in storage to the University Archives.  The paper and linen documents ranged in size from approximately 5 x 13 inches to 43 x 91 inches and were subsequently cleaned and encapsulated for preservation.  This material, which dates from 1902 to 1920, included aerial views, general plans, grading plans, proposed buildings, and roads from the time when the university was an all-female college.

The drawings and prints were created by landscape architect Warren Henry Manning (1860-1938) who designed plans for the campus from 1901 to 1921 and shaped the campus as we know it.

1926 Aerial View of the Campus looking north toward Peabody Park showing Manning's design influence.
Manning was a landscape designer, landscape architect, and regional planner from Reading Massachusetts.  He did not have formal training in the landscape design field but gained experience while he was manager of his father’s plant nursery.  From 1887 to 1896, Manning was associated with the Frederick Law Olmsted landscape architecture firm and designed over 125 planting projects.  Over the course of his life, Manning designed nearly 1,700 landscape projects for colleges, universities, public parks, and private estates including the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, North Carolina, and the Village at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Manning’s association with the campus resulted when he met alumna Kittie Dorcas Dees in Pinehurst where she was a secretary at a Pinehurst hotel.  Manning offered her a job with his landscape architecture firm in Boston, Massachusetts.  While in Manning’s employment, she requested that he design the grounds for her Alma Mater.  She had attended the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) from 1895 to 1897.  This was to be her gift to the school.  The only expense that would be incurred was the cost of clerical help, drafts, and traveling.

From 1901 to 1921, Manning corresponded and consulted with Presidents Charles D. McIver and Julius I. Foust about the landscape plans for the campus.  He was named the official landscape architect of the college in 1909.

Bird's Eye View of Proposed College Avenue, 1909
One of Manning’s most important contributions was the creation of College Avenue.  He envisioned a grand boulevard running from the railroad tracks, across Spring Garden Street, north to the entrance of Peabody Park.  Manning proposed that faculty housing be built along College Avenue south of Spring Garden Street and academic buildings be built on either side of College Avenue, north of Spring Garden Street.

The faculty housing area was never developed since the college was not able to buy the land south of Spring Garden Street until the 1920s when difference plans were developed for the area.  The land north of Spring Garden Street was developed into the academic area that Manning envisioned.

Watercolor Sketch of Proposed Woodworking Building, 1911
 In 1911, Manning drew several sketch plans and elevations of a proposed but never built arts and crafts village where the students would have learned pottery, weaving, and woodworking.

Additional biographical information about Manning can be found in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.  Other repositories holding Manning’s drawings and documents are the Parks Library at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa and the Center for Lowell History at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Minerva, Our Goddess

How long has Minerva been associated with UNCG? An 1894 diploma in our Archives (the earliest diploma we have) proudly displays Minerva within the seal.

Seal from 1894 diploma featuring Minerva
 It is strictly conjecture, but certainly plausible that the school's founder, Charles Duncan McIver, is the person responsible for selecting Minerva. McIver won a medal in Greek and honors in Latin while attending The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Edwin Alderman, a former classmate and charter member of the school's faculty, was also in the classics course at Chapel Hill, and is another possible source for the use of Minerva on the school seal.  Whoever is ultimately responsible for the selection, a short history of the goddess reveals why she was such an apt choice for the school.

Minerva was a Roman goddess whose origin is believed to be Etruscan, her Etruscan antecedent being known as Menrva.  Menrva was the third part of the Etruscan holy triad composed of Tinia and Uni, which is later reflected in the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. By the time Minerva was worshipped along with Jupiter and Juno in temples known as Capitolia, Minerva was visually indistinguishable from the Greek goddess Athena.  People of the classical world had no problem borrowing gods from other cultures!
Bronze votive figurine of Minerva, she originally held a spear in her right hand and shield in her left. (Image from Dictionary of Roman Religion, Lesley Adkins & Roy Adkins, 1996)
 Throughout her history and various guises, the goddess has been associated with many aspects of worship. She was a tutelary goddess in Athens and to a lesser extent, Rome.  She was associated with aspects of war and this is evident in numerous depictions of her in arms (notice the war helmet in the seals and figurine). She was a goddess of arts, crafts, teaching, and music (she invented the flute), and in these aspects enjoyed festivals called Quinquatria held in her honor in Rome. As Minerva Medica (also Athena Hygeia) she was the goddess of healing.

If all these aspects seem disjointed (Latin poet Ovid calls her the "goddess of a thousand things"), it helps to keep in mind that she is most renowned for her wisdom and mental prowess.  Was it most likely this aspect that McIver had in mind when he chose her as our representative goddess? Perhaps so, but he may have also read and heeded the words of Ovid's Fasti, "Una dies media est, et fiunt sacra Minervae...quod est illa nata Minerva die...Pallada nunc pueri teneraeque orate puellae, qui bene placarit Pallada, doctus erit" or "After an interval of one day, rites are performed in honor of Minerva...because that is her birthday...Make your prayers to Pallas* (Minerva) boys and gentle girls, those who honor her well, will be learned!" (Fasti 3.809-816) A very appropriate verse for a teacher's school!
Official University seal adopted in 1963

As the University has grown, it is interesting to see how many of her other aspects have been fulfilled with the mission of the University. From teacher education and home economics, to the inclusion of arts, music, and even nursing degrees being offered, Minerva has proven a very wise choice for The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

(*Pallas is another name for Athena/Minerva-)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Computing on Campus

Roscoe Allen, head of
the campus's first computer center,
a position he held from 1967-1982
Computers seem ubiquitous on campus today, that hasn't always been the case. While a campus network of computers wasn't in place until the 1990s, faculty and staff have made use of computers and computing services offered on campus since 1959.

In 1959, the Consolidated University of North Carolina opened its first computation center in Chapel Hill. This center was intended to serve faculty from all three Consolidated University campuses -- UNC, N.C. State, and Woman's College (now UNCG). On November 19, a six-week seminar for interested WC faculty and staff began. This seminar aimed to "provide training and experience which will enable each of us to determine the applicability of the computer for our own areas of interest, and to adapt our research problems to the machine."

In 1967, UNCG opened its own administrative computer center in the Petty Science Building. This computer center, headed by Roscoe Allen, former head of the commercial department, was primarily used to computerize the university's personnel records, as required by the federal government as part of an ongoing civil rights litigation.

That same year, the University also gained a teletype connection to a computer based at the Triangle Universities Computation Center (TUCC) in Research Triangle Park. This terminal, located in the Forney Building, allowed faculty and students to run programs (but at least half of the connection's allotted time was dedicated to sponsored faculty research). All data that was to be processed had to go through and be submitted by the designated Supervisor of the Terminal.

Campus computing, 1975
As demand for computer access grew, campus computing was divided into two separate offices in 1973 -- one focused on administrative computing and one on academic computing. Additionally, computer center staff began offering workshops to faculty, staff, and students. These workshops, meant to introduce the UNCG community to "the computing facilities and services and the various program and languages available," included sessions on statistical packages like SPSS as well as programming languages like FORTRAN.

By 1976, there were at least 13 academic computer terminals across campus allowing faculty, staff, and students to connect to the TUCC, but that fell far short of demand. Computer access had to be rationed until 1981 when UNCG acquired its first on-campus academic computer -- a new VAX machine installed in the new business and economics building. Although many faculty continued to dial in via remote access to the TUCC, the new VAX was quickly flooded with faculty and student users. Long waits, limited use time, and emergency deletion of files caused troubles for all campus computer users.

Some relief came in the early 1980s with the growing popularity of personal computers (then known as microcomputers). Several UNCG departments financed small microcomputer labs of their own, but, aside from the high cost of the machines themselves, many departments lacked the money and expertise to properly maintain and service the computers.

Jackson Library computer lab, 1995
Finally, in 1990, the administrative and academic computer centers were merged. Computers were upgraded, and new labs were added across campus. By 1993, most academic buildings were connected to the campus network, and soon after the network began to reach dormitories as well.