Monday, May 28, 2018

Harriet Elliott: Teaching and Making History

Harriet Wiseman Elliott (1884 – 1947) was truly a woman ahead of her time. Her students would say that she not only taught history, but made it.

Harriet Elliott in the midst of State Normal students, ca. 1920
Harriet Elliott came to the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG) as a faculty member in the Department of History and Political Science. During her time at the college, she would inspire generations of students to learn about government, democracy, and their responsibilities as citizens of the United States.

Young Harriet Elliott
Born to a very political family, Miss Elliott’s interest in current affairs began when she was growing up in the small town of Carbondale, Illinois. Concerned with social injustice and community economics, her father Allan Elliott, attended many political rallies and parades, and took his young daughter with him. Mr. Elliott was an avid Democrat, and as it was mostly Republican territory, the Democrats often lost local elections. Reacting to the frequent losses, Harriet exclaimed, “Why don’t you change your vote so we can be on the winning side sometimes?” This was a sign of things to come – Harriet Elliott did not like to lose.

As Harriet’s parents believed in women’s education, she was sent to Hanover College in Indiana. It did not take long for her to establish herself as a rebel. She campaigned against rules that she thought were absurd, such as the living and working circumstances in the dormitories and the poor condition of local prisons.

While earning her Master’s degree at Columbia University, Harriet became more passionately interested in suffrage. It was at a college lecture on women’s rights that she would meet Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, a leader in the national suffrage movement.  After Dr. Shaw’s talk, Harriet waited backstage to speak to her. They immediately discovered that they were political kindred spirits and became lifelong friends. It was Dr. Shaw who suggested that Harriet’s true calling was to study, and eventually teach, political science.

Miss Elliott
When “Miss Elliott” joined the faculty of the State Normal, she brought fresh and sometimes controversial ideas to the Southern women’s college. Her students looked forward to her fiery lectures on history and politics, which introduced concepts such as “women’s rights, informed electorate, the democratic way, responsible freedom, and the dead weight of uniformity.” She encouraged independence of political thought and even helped her students form the Student Government Association in 1915.
In April of 1917, the United States entered into the First World War. Miss Elliott realized that with the world changing so profoundly, so must her teaching methods. Instead of using textbooks for lessons in current events, she asked that her students prepare for class by reading the daily paper. She believed that this was the best way to show that “government [was] a living subject.” Miss Elliott took every opportunity to educate her young students about women’s equality in a wartime nation, offering a program in June 1918, titled “Women and War.”

Moving beyond the confines of the campus, Miss Elliott also spoke to the community, calling for women to go to war – overseas or at home! Recognizing her passion for politics, President Woodrow Wilson appointed her to the North Carolina’s Women’s National Defense Council. She was also a prominent member of the state’s Woman’s Committee. But perhaps most of all, Miss Elliott was a suffragist, constantly advocating for the right for women to vote. She resented being grouped “among idiots and criminals [who] were classified as politically incompetent” to cast a ballot! She felt so strongly about her personal right to participate in elections, that she maintained her legal residence in Illinois so that she could vote there. Women had been able to vote for the president and in local elections in Illinois since 1913.
Dr. Anna Howard Shaw speaks at Commencement, 1919
Miss Elliott was strongly connected with leaders of the suffrage movement. She worked with the Federation of Women's Clubs and spoke across the state about women's rights. She was also a member of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association and scheduled many strong suffrage advocates to speak to the student body of the State Normal. These speakers included Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve in the United States Congress, as well as her friend, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, who spoke at the school on three occasions between 1917 and 1919. Miss Elliott and her students were hopeful that North Carolina would soon ratify the 19th Amendment, but it was not to be. When the suffrage bill went in front of the North Carolina Legislature, it was not ratified. Fortunately, on April 20, 1920, the requisite number of states passed legislation officially granting American women the right to vote.

After women gained the vote, Miss Elliott expanded her efforts to inform the women of North Carolina of their rights. In June of 1920, she offered “A School of Citizenship for Women,” which was open not only to her students, but to “all the women of North Carolina.” The program included lectures and round table discussions regarding the government’s structure and purpose. Miss Elliott was also a founding member of the North Carolina League of Women Voters. In 1926, Miss Elliott helped revive the League in Greensboro, which had lapsed, and encouraged the participation of the “New Voters League,” a chapter at the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG).

Miss Elliott waits with her students for election results, 1940s
She continued her interest in women’s rights and politics, and when the United States entered the Second World War, she was recruited by President Franklin Roosevelt to serve as Consumer Advisor on the National Defense Advisory Committee and as a member of the Women’s Division of the War Finance Committee.
Following in Miss Elliott’s footsteps were thousands of alumnae – many becoming active in national, state, or local politics, the League of Women Voters, or other community organizations. Perhaps more than anything – that was her greatest legacy.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Winged Victory - Gift of the Class of 1915

Known simply as "Winged Victory" for the majority of its time on campus, the armless, headless, statue of Nike (as she was known in Greek) or more properly, The Winged Victory of Samothrace (as the original is called by the Louvre) is an example of a plaster cast statue, created from an original ancient marble statue. The method of production of this type of statue has been discussed here before and in that regard, this statue is no different.
Plaster cast statue of Winged Victory located in the Forney Building, 2018 (photo by author)
The Winged Victory of Samothrace original is located in the Louvre. It was discovered in 1863 on the island of Samothrace by Charles Champoiseau and is believed to have been created about 190 BC, possibly to commemorate a major Rhodian naval victory. 1
The Winged Victory of Samothrace original statue located in the Louvre 2
 UNCG's Winged Victory arrived in 1915, as a gift of the graduating class. Although it's impossible to say where the Class of 1907 bought the statue of Minerva, Winged Victory has its maker's stamp clearly visible.
"Caproni Casts" maker's mark on UNCG's Winged Victory
Caproni Borthers was a well-regarded plaster cast statue manufacturer in the days when these type of statues were in vogue. On page 18 of their 1911 catalog, Winged Victory statues are available in a variety of sizes and prices.
1911 Caproni Brothers catalog, page 18 3
Much like the Class of 1907 Minerva statue, Winged Victory has had a long journey on UNCG's campus. The statue was presented during class day ceremonies in May, 1915, by the senior class and stood for the next 35 years in the old Student's Building (no longer extant), the same building as Minerva.

Image of Winged Victory in the Student's Building from 1929 Pine Needles (yearbook)
The old Student's Building was razed in 1950, leaving Winged Victory without a home. The statue next showed up in a garage behind the "old Scarborough House" which was located about where the Ferguson Building now stands. Winged Victory was saved by Dr. Jim Cooley who was quoted as saying, "One day, I believe some sort of maintenance crew came around and was about to take the statue and all of the contents of the garage out to the dump." Luckily, Dr. Cooley had recognized the importance of the statue, partially due to the small plaque at the base of the statue, identifying it as a gift of the Class of 1915.

Plaque that helped save the statue, identifying it as a gift of the Class of 1915 (photo by author)

Dr. Cooley had the statue moved into his office at the Scarborough House and when his office moved to 313 McIver, the statue went with him. The statue suffered some damage while in McIver from a leaking roof and fallen ceiling tiles and when Dr. Cooley was about to leave campus for research leave in 1985, a group of concerned UNCG staff members had the statue transferred to the basement of Alumni House.
Winged Victory's next location was possibly Weatherspoon Gallery, where it was stored until a permanent home was found. Sometime between 1985 and 1987, the statue was placed in the lobby of the Forney Building where it resides to this day. 4
In 1987, Winged Victory finally received some much needed maintenance and was restored by Simone Spicer-Raab (Class of 1987).  5

2- Public Domain image 
3- The 1911 Caproni Brothers catalog can be viewed online.
4- Today on Campus Wednesday, September 25, 1985 No. 59
5- Campus Weekly Sept. 21-Oct. 5, 1987, page 1

Monday, May 14, 2018

The History of the Library and Information Studies Department at UNCG

Formal library education at the North Carolina College for Women (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) was initiated in 1928, by Charles H. Stone, a competent young library educator and director with a library science degree from University of Illinois. Stone had already demonstrated educational and managerial aptitude through the founding of a library science program at the Peabody Institute. In 1928, Stone was appointed director of the college library and administer of the department of Library Science.

Charles H. Stone
The department would offer accredited undergraduate work from 1931-1933. This program was the first of its kind in North Carolina and the second in the south, offering courses that included book selection, cataloging and classification, youth literature and storytelling, library history and administration, reference and bibliography, and government documents. Yet by 1933, the state of North Carolina decided to consolidate library education at the Chapel Hill campus.

The 1931 Undergraduate Library Science Class

In the 1962-63 academic year - the last year that the school was officially a woman’s college - a university committee, which had been formed several years prior in response to federal legislation affecting education, decided to formally restore library science education at UNCG. In 1965, the developing program was approved to offer a Master’s degree in Library Science (MLS), although it was not yet accredited. This program continued until 1982, when the American Library Association (ALA) accredited a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at UNCG.

Two remarkable librarians who helped direct and develop the program towards accreditation were Mary Frances Kennon Johnson (1962-1979; Chair 1978-1979) and Cora Paul Bomar (1969-1979; Interim Chair 1986-87). This was largely done through the emphasis of an expanding array of technology and media. Dr. Keith Wright (Chair 1980-86) was the department Chair during the pivotal academic year of 1981-1982 when accreditation was earned. He contributed to the program’s success by hiring more faculty and establishing strong practicum programs, which partnered with local educational organizations.

Cora Paul Bomar
Under the leadership of Dr. Marilyn Miller (1987-1995), the department - now titled Library Science and Instructional Technology - continued its progress. Miller (MLS, PhD - University of Michigan) was a notable advocate and prolific researcher, writer, and speaker on librarianship, with a focus on school library media programs. In 1988, she oversaw the founding of the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA), the 21st student chapter of ALA. In 1992-1993, still directing the LIS program, Miller served as ALA’s president, thereby bringing visibility to the department. Coursework under Miller’s leadership emphasized educational technology, especially microcomputers, as complementary to the standard library curriculum. In the 1993-1994 academic year, the program became Library and Information Studies. In the same year, and still under the leadership of Dr. Miller, the department was approved to offer a complete MLIS degree as distance education, which continues to develop and serve diverse learners today.

Marilyn Miller  
Currently, as the oldest LIS program in North Carolina, UNCG’s LIS department is housed within the School of Education, where it continues to offer an accredited, graduate-level degree program featuring courses in both hybrid (combining face-to-face and distance learners) and fully online formats. With such a long and rich history of library and information education at UNCG, we expect continuous developments in research, education, and service from the LIS department.

[This blog is the result of research conducted at the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) at The University of North Carolina - Greensboro (UNCG), by LIS practicum student Anthony Arcangeli, in the creation of an exhibit which highlighted the history of library education at UNCG.]

Monday, May 7, 2018

Jan Van Dyke: Dancing Through Life

Jan Van Dyke was one of the most prolific and well-known faculty members in the UNCG Department of Dance. Van Dyke had a long history with UNCG, beginning in 1989 when she received a doctorate in education.

Jan Van Dyke, ca. 1950s.
Van Dyke was born in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 1941, but spent much of her early youth in Germany. From an early age, much of her energy was spent focused on dance. She attended high school in Virginia, taking dance lessons at the Washington School of Ballet. Van Dyke earned a bachelor's degree in dance from the University of Wisconsin in 1963 and a master's degree in dance education from George Washington University.

Van Dyke often struggled to break into the dance world – working hard to get a foothold in New York City, the Midwest, and Washington, D.C. During her career, she was responsible for founding or co-founding numerous dance groups, including the John Gamble/Jan Van Dyke Dance Group, Jan Van Dyke and Dancers, and the Jan Van Dyke Dance Group.

She was particularly interested in the difficulties faced by women dancers – despite the stereotyping of dancing as a feminine career, she often wrote about the inequalities within the dance profession and the struggles women faced.

Van Dyke’s dance studies and career not only took her around the country, but also around the world. In the 1990s, Van Dyke traveled to Portugal as a Fulbright scholar. Her career was punctuated by other interesting tidbits, such as her stint as choreographer of a Rick Springfield video, Bop ‘Til You Drop.

Program outlining the offerings of Jan Van Dyke and Dancers, ca. 1970s.
With tons of interesting asides, it’s easy to forget that the bedrock of Van Dyke’s career was always rooted in teaching and a love of dance. Some of the earliest newspaper clippings chronicle Van Dyke’s early work teaching basic dance to “housewives” in the Midwest.
Van Dyke’s teaching career culminated in her arrival at UNCG as a student in the School of Education. Van Dyke received her doctorate in Education in 1989, then joined UNCG as a full assistant professor that same year.

While with the Department of Dance at UNCG, she taught a variety of courses, including technique, choreography, repertory, career management, and dance administration. Van Dyke was named head of the Department of Dance in 2006 and served until 2011. She retired from UNCG in 2012.

In addition to teaching, Van Dyke also worked as a producer, administrator, and artist in the Greensboro community. Van Dyke founded and directed the dance company Dance Project, which is responsible for the N.C. Dance Festival, Van Dyke Dance Group, and School at City Arts.

The Van Dyke Performance Space, located in the cultural arts center in downtown Greensboro, was named after Van Dyke and opened in 2016. Van Dyke donated one million dollars for its creation and worked tirelessly to gain a dedicated performing arts space in downtown Greensboro.

Van Dyke’s impact on the dance community, specifically the North Carolina dance community, is undeniable. Her choreography has been used by a variety of groups, ranging from the Washington Ballet to students at the Western Australian Academy for the Performing Arts in Perth. She was instrumental in founding the N.C. Dance Festival.

Van Dyke teaching students in Washington. D.C., ca. 1970s.

She earned numerous accolades in her field, including: North Carolina Choreography Fellowship, 1993 Fulbright Scholar, North Carolina Dance Alliance Annual Award 2001, 2008 Dance Teacher Award for Higher Education from Dance Teacher Magazine, and the Betty Cone Medal of Arts Award in 2011. UNCG awarded Van Dyke the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award for leadership and service in 2010.

Van Dyke donated her personal and professional papers to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives in 2014-2015. Van Dyke passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer in July 2015.

The Jan Van Dyke Papers contains materials related to Van Dyke's personal life and professional career as a dancer, teacher, and administrator. The collection contains Van Dyke's choreography, correspondence, faculty materials, teaching materials, photographs, newspaper clippings, and video recordings.

Van Dyke’s materials, which afford a unique glance into a life dedicated to dance, reach back to her earliest childhood years in the 1940s and 1950s – from a photographs of childhood dance recitals to faculty materials and video recordings from her time at UNCG in the late 2010s.