Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Holidays!

The staff of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives wishes everyone a happy holiday season! We're taking a break this week, but please join us on Monday, January 9th for a new Spartan Story.

Woman's College student Mary Frances Thompson dressed as Santa, 1960

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Rise of Campus Dramatics (Part I): The State County Fair

Dramatics was an important part of early campus life at the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). Plays and skits were not only a creative outlet for the students, but also an ideal way for classmates from across the state to get to know each other better. In addition to obvious social benefits, the earliest campus productions drew attention to the new school during a time when the North Carolina Legislature was making important appropriation decisions for the state’s colleges. The first State County Fair was held on November 30, 1894, as part of a Legislature’s Education Committee visit to assess State Normal’s buildings, grounds, and administrative management.

The "Bevy of Sailor Girls" from New Hanover County, 1894

The College’s president, Charles Duncan McIver, appointed four students to plan the auspicious event. The program included State Normal students entertaining the Committee and the general public with a rendering of the state song and a competition to present the most creative skit featuring significant local products and notable historic figures from the girls’ home counties. The event took place in the auditorium, or “chapel,” of the Main Building (now the Foust Building), and included elaborate costumes and props, as well as cleverly titled banners. The skits varied greatly in size, depending on how many students were from a certain county. A particularly large group from Yadkin County incorporated corn shucks and a large bottle with a banner reading, “Yadkin furnishes corn in all its forms.” Particularly singled out were the “bevy of sailor girls” from New Hanover County who who sang a rollicking version of “A Sailor’s Wife a Sailor’s Star Should Be.” Only one “plucky” girl represented Greene County, but she did so with great flair, wearing a garland of corn and holding a squealing piglet on her back. It’s hard to imagine that the piglet, as well as her banner which read, “hog and hominy,” did not push her into the winner’s circle. Yet, the victorious county was Rockingham, which represented a cradle holding a sugar-cured ham and students carrying shields representing four governors from that area of the state. Their banner declared, “Nursery of Our Governors.” For winning the day, the Rockingham girls were awarded the Grand Prize of a framed picture of Pilot Mountain. The event was a notable success and hailed as “one of the most unique entertainments ever given in the state.” Afterwards, the girls were feted with oysters and hot chocolate.

"Nursery of Our Governors," the Rockingham County Entry, 1894

When the Education Committee returned to the campus in February of 1897, McIver chose to feature the State County Fair event again. This time he requested that the Elocution Department plan the activities for the important occasion. The program began with a costumed student chorus representing the three departments of the school - Business, Domestic Science, and Pedagogy. Subsequently, there was a presentation of the counties. The Mecklenburg County offering, which represented students dressed as hornets, was very well received. But, the high point of the pageant was a mock legislative session presented by thirty-five State Normal students, during which the College’s appropriation budget was increased by $100,000. The 1897 State County Fair also stands out for being the year that students from Durham allegedly sewed cigarettes into their costumes, which they promptly smoked after the event and consequently were severely reprimanded by the faculty. Whether this is a true story or only a rumor, it remains part of the unofficial college lore.

The Mecklenburg Hornets, 1897
By the time the Committee visited again in February 1899, the student productions had taken on a more political theme, most likely due to the Spanish-American War. The “tableaux vivants” included representations of “E Pluribus Unum – American Types,” “Way Down Yonder in Dixie,” and “Justice.” Also featured was a scene symbolizing the “School of Education,” in which Uncle Sam played by E. J. Forney, the College’s treasurer and professor of business, gave the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba instruction in self-government. This was a common theme after the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, and reflected political cartoons of the day, which showed Uncle Sam attempting to teach a new class of unruly American territories. The production was met with “deafening applause,” and considered a rousing success. The presentation ended with a “tableau vivant” of the Great Seal of North Carolina surrounded by representatives of all of the counties singing “The Old North State.” Although these early State County Fairs were very obvious attempts by President McIver to sway the State Legislature, dramatic activities on campus continued to grow in popularity and increasingly came under the direction of the school’s Literary Societies.

The next installment of “Campus Dramatics” will feature early Literary Society productions, the establishment of the school’s Dramatic Club, and pageants staged as part of the campus mobilization efforts for World War I.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chancellor Jackson Retires in Style

When Dr. Walter Clinton Jackson stepped into the role of Chancellor of the Woman's College (now UNCG) in 1934 he had big shoes to fill.   Dr. McIver had built the State Normal & Industrial School from the ground up and President Foust had kept it growing and expanding after McIver's death, but Dr. Jackson brought with him a strong belief in the importance of education that would serve him well in his new position with the college.
Dr. Jackson, undated
Dr. Jackson was born and raised on a cotton farm near Hayston, Georgia.  His mother was a big proponent of education and encouraged her son to pursue an advanced degree.  He entered Mercer University at the age of 16, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1900.  He taught in public schools in both Georgia and North Carolina before coming to Greensboro in 1905 to serve as the Principal of Greensboro High School (Now Grimsley High School).

In 1909, Dr. Jackson joined the faculty of State Normal as a professor in History.  He was a popular teacher and students flocked to take his course on "Representative Americans."  In fact, so many students took this class that chairs had to be brought in from other classroom to accommodate the size.  His passion for the history showed in his teaching and the past came alive for those he taught.  So much so, that one former student recalled a day "when his enactment of a duel brought forth from a girl, at whom he lunged his imaginary sword, a piercing and hysterical scream."

Throughout his years at State Normal (and then Woman's College), Dr. Jackson moved into new and in more responsible roles.  Shortly after coming to the college, he became head of the History Department.  From 1915-1921 he served as Dean of the College, before taking the newly created position of vice president in 1922.  He left Woman's college in 1932 to serve as the dean of the school of public administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but returned to Woman's College later that year to serve as the Dean of Administration after Dr. Foust retired.

Dr. Jackson had been groomed for the position and was the obvious choice as Dr. Foust's replacement. Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of the consolidated university, said that Dr. Jackson was the unanimous choice of faculty, students, and alumnae.  Porter spoke with a number of people at the college, and finally conferred with Zeke, who had been at the school since the very beginning. Virginia Vanstory reported the encounter:
When Dr. Graham spoke to Zeke, the venerable staff member confessed that he had been praying over the matter.  
'With what results, Zeke?' Dr. Graham asked.
'Well, the Lord's on Mr. Jackson's side,' Zeke replied, and that, Dr. Graham felt made it unanimous. 
Over the sixteen years that Dr. Jackson served as chancellor, he saw the school through many changes, including including the expansion of the student body to more than double (2200 students) at his retirement in 1950.

Dr. Jackson was a well liked and well respected chancellor.  In his welcoming address to the Freshman class each year, he advised students to come by his office to see him, if only to say 'hello.'  And Freshman took him up on his offer, showing up at his door to report how happy they were with the college or how homesick they felt.

Perhaps the students love for Dr. Jackson was best expressed in the generous retirement gift that the alumnae presented him with, a brand new car!
Car presented to Dr. Jackson by the alumnae in May, 1950.
L to R: Jane Wharton Sockwell, Betty Brown Jester, Dr. Jackson, Jane Summerell, Laura Weil Cone

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75 years ago: "Pearl Harbor Letter" from Ella

Part of the Women Veterans Historical Project collections, this letter was written by "Ella" to her family  on 13 December, 1941, six days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. We don't know anything about Ella except from what we can infer from the letter itself. She was a nurse with either the Army Nurse Corps at Tripler Army Hospital or with the Navy Nurse Corps at Naval Hospital Pearl Harbor.

In her letter, Ella comments that her family "maybe would be looking for a letter" from her.  I do hope she had already let them know that she was not a casualty of the December 7th attack, rather than making them nervously await news for a week!

Ella types:

" Yes, it happened here; the thing that everyone in the country predicted - that is everyone but the people living in Hawaii. We sat her smugly satisfied that nothing could happen to Oahua - of course not; we were so well fortified - ? - Well, something went wrong somewhere, evidently. Honolulu was caught sleeping and a most terrible thing happened here last Sunday."

Ella recounts how she left her quiet morning shift at the hospital that day to attend 8 a.m. mass and that she was in church when the attack began. Ella then rushed back to the hospital and she relates the events there that day. She then discusses the differences in Honolulu now that the area was under martial law. 

Ella describes the how the hospital nurses "have rallied to the age-old call of service, and probably have the same spirit that prompted old Florence N[ightengale] to go to Crimea."

The letter ends with:

"We are all well and busy - it gives no time to think, so it is better that way. There is lots to do and Honolulu has quieted down to something one would never recognize, but we are all in this war. Things don't look any too cheerful, but we aren't going to let it get us down."

On this 75th anniversary of the "day that will live in infamy", the Women Veterans Historical Project salutes the service of military nurses.

You can read the entire letter below:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chancellor Patricia A. Sullivan: Encoded in the DNA of UNCG

UNCG opened its doors in 1892 as a publicly-supported school for women from across North Carolina (and beyond) to receive a higher education. But it would not be until the 103rd year of the school's existence that a woman would serve as the university's highest-ranking administrator. On January 1, 1995, Dr. Patricia A. Sullivan officially became the 9th Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the first woman to hold the chief executive position on campus.

Patricia Sullivan was born in Staten Island, NY, and received degrees in biology from Notre Dame College of St. John's University (B.A., 1961) and New York University (M.S., 1964 and Ph.D., 1967). Her work experience included research positions with the National Institutes of Health as well as faculty positions at Wagner College, Wells College, Texas Woman's University, and Salem College. She also served as Dean of the College at Salem College from 1981 to 1987, and as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas Woman's University from 1987 until her hiring at UNCG.

During her time at UNCG, the campus underwent a number of major changes that helped it become the institution it is today. Under Sullivan's leadership, enrollment at UNCG reached an all-time high, while academic standards for admissions also increased. Enrollment of students from underrepresented communities also increased significantly during this time. As JoAnne Smart Drane, one of the first African American students to attend the school, noted in a tribute to Sullivan, "she valued the University's diversity as strength."

Sullivan also led a charge to move UNCG to its current classification as a Research University with High Research Activity. Funded research grew 180% during her years as chancellor, from $12.7 million to $36 million. Additionally, numerous doctoral programs were established during this time, including Ph.D. programs in nursing, geography, economics, information systems, special education, community health, communication sciences and disorders, history and medicinal biochemistry. UNCG also established partnerships with North Carolina A&T University to found both the Gateway University Research Park and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

Not only did the academic landscape of UNCG change under Sullivan's leadership, but the physical landscape changed as well. Sullivan diligently advocated on behalf of the North Carolina Higher Education Improvement Bonds, which was the largest bond referendum for public education in United States history. Ultimately, the passage of the bond referendum provided $3.1 billion for construction at state universities and community colleges across North Carolina. UNCG received $166 million from the referendum for construction and renovations. The Science Building that would later be named in Sullivan's honor was constructed as a result of that referendum. Numerous other buildings - including the Brown Building, Forney Building, and the UNCG Auditorium - were also renovated and modernized.

Sullivan with former Chancellor Moran at moving of Chancellor's Residence
Through the bond referendum, successful fundraising campaigns, and other donations, approximately $500 million total in new construction and renovations were added during Sullivan's time as chancellor. In addition to the Science Building, the Gatewood Studio Arts Building, the Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building, and the Spring Garden Apartments residence hall were constructed during her tenure. Also, in a collaboration with Preservation North Carolina, the historic Chancellor's Residence was moved, renovated, and reopened as the Armfield-Preyer Admissions and Visitor Center.

On December 6, 2007, Chancellor Sullivan announced that she would retire, effective July 31, 2008. At the time, she was the most senior chancellor among the UNC System. In remarks to the UNCG Board of Trustees upon announcing her retirement, Sullivan noted, "as with any journey, each year during which I've served as chancellor has been marked by great strides and great successes. Many inspiring challenges and surprises. Times when my heart felt great pain from the tragedies we had to overcome. And times when my heart swelled with pride at the accomplishment of our people. It has been, after all, a very beautiful voyage ... and I shall always understand what UNCG means."

Following the Spring 2008 Board of Trustees meeting - her final meeting as chancellor - a ceremony was held in which the Science Building constructed with the bond referendum funds that she diligently worked for was renamed the Patricia A. Sullivan Science Building. Board of Trustees Chair Steve Hassenfelt noted, "I think we found a way to encode Pat Sullivan and her tremendous leadership into the DNA of UNCG for many years to come." During the ceremony, UNC President Erskine Bowles also presented Sullivan with The Old North State Award, which recognizes "dedication and service beyond expectation and excellence to the Great State of North Carolina."

At her retirement, Sullivan was also fighting a battle with pancreatic cancer. On the morning of August 20, 2009 after a two-year battle with the disease, she passed away at the age of 69. A campus-wide service was held in her memory on September 14, 2009, with remarks from numerous UNCG alumni, faculty, and administrators. As the following Chancellor Linda Brady remarked in closing the ceremony, "there is a void on our landscape. But it is just a physical void. Pat's engaging smile and encouraging spirit - her intellect and reason - is on every hallway, in every building - in each classroom, studio, and laboratory. It's in the Weatherspoon, the library, the Elliott Center, on the athletic courts and fields ... Her spirit lives on in the hearts of all of us who hold UNCG dear ... and who continue the commitment to advancing the University that she dearly loved."