Monday, November 18, 2019

The Education of Charles Duncan McIver

Charles D. McIver (left) and his younger brother William in 1865 
The founder and first president of our university, Charles D. McIver, left a wealth of information behind when he died suddenly in 1906 on a train returning from Raleigh to Greensboro. Among his more formal papers dealing with his work as president of the school are also included diaries, school note books, and reminiscences of his life. From these, it is possible to get a better understanding of McIver’s education in Reconstruction era North Carolina.

Charles D. McIver was fortunate to have been born into a family well enough off, that he was able to enjoy an early education that was decidedly better than many North Carolinians had access to at that time.
Charles' first teacher may have been his father, Henry (Matthew Henry McIver, always referred to as “Henry”). Although from a wealthy family, Henry’s own father needed him on the farm and thus, Henry never attended college. Despite this, Henry was compelled by his neighbors to teach at the local one room school house. When Henry went to teach, he brought along his four year old son, Charles. Charles would later recall that school house as among his earliest memories.

Despite never having attended college, Henry and his wife, Sarah, always encouraged their children to go to college. “My father and mother reared me to the idea that, as a matter of course, I was to go to college,” McIver would later recall.
"Winter" an essay written by Charles D. McIver, Dec. 19th, 1873

By the age of eight, Charles was ready to properly go to school. This time, however, Henry and his cousins hired a “proper” teacher. Bertha Buie, a sixteen year old graduate of Salem Academy was Charles first formal teacher. Charles would learn from textbooks such as McGuffey’s Reader or the North Carolina Reader. McIver also remembered other teachers from this period. Mary Newby particularly helped to see his education through to the age of thirteen.

From age thirteen to sixteen, Charles was taught by Davidson College graduate (and cousin) John E. Kelley. The subjects taught during this time were appropriate for a student who sought to enter college- English, geography, algebra, Latin and Greek.

With his Presbyterian roots and connections, it would have been entirely natural for Charles to attend Davidson College, but he instead chose the University of North Carolina, partly because it had produced so many leaders in the state, but also because he wanted something a little outside of his upbringing.
Charles' Zoology notebook, 1878

The entrance requirements for UNC were stringent:
“A competent knowledge of the elements of the English language, Geography, and Algebra through equations of the second degree, Latin Grammar, Prosody and composition, four books of Caesar, five books of Virgil’s Aeneid, or the equivalent in Ovid, Sallust, or Cicero’s orations; of Greek Grammar and Composition, four books of Xenophon’s Anabasis, or Memorabilia, and two books of the Iliad.”

Charles was well prepared by his schooling under John E. Kelley and entered UNC in the fall of 1877 at age sixteen. Although his family was decidedly not poor, he was forced to borrow money from his uncle to pay for tuition and expenses (Tuition was 60 dollars, Room rent was 10 dollars/year at UNC during this time). McIver later stated that his total tuition debt for attending UNC was $1,200 dollars.
Charles' notes on NC History, 1880


Charles enrolled in the A.B. (Bachelor of Arts) degree, and being well served by the course of education taught by Kelley, was a very good student, scoring above 90 in every subject in his first two semesters. Indeed, he did so well, that he would later earn a medal for Greek in 1879. If Charles had one failing at UNC, it was his inability to speak publicly. As he would later relate, “During my four years at this institution I made no appearance before the public as a speaker when the payment of fines…could relieve me from that duty.” Fortunately, Charles would later overcome that deficiency in the course of time.

Charles would graduate in 1881 among the highest in his class, all the more notable in that his classmates included many future NC leaders. 
Although he would record on a questionnaire for a prospective book on prominent men in North Carolina that he had pursued no professional education, Charles was later awarded two honorary degrees from UNC: a doctorate of literature in 1893 and doctor of law in 1904.
One example out of many of Dr. McIver's reminiscences concerning his early life and education, undated

Charles' medal for excellence in Greek from UNC, 1879
*In addition to the Charles Duncan McIver Records, 1855-1906 (UA2.1), the books: McIver of North Carolina by Rose Howell Holder & Covert Curriculum by Pamela Dean were also consulted in the creation of this blog post.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Lina McDonald: The First Campus Mystery

Graduating Class of the State Normal and Industrial School, 1893
Lina McDonald is not pictured
Working at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives is always interesting. Recently, I came across one of the earliest campus mysteries – the tragic accident of a student who lost her life several months before graduation when she was struck by a train and killed, not far from campus.

A Forsyth County native, Miss Lina McDonald was a graduate of Peace Institute (now Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina) and arrived at the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) when the doors opened in the fall of 1892. Although she had gained teaching experience in the nearby towns of Winston, Shelby, and Concord, Miss McDonald decided to apply to the State Normal to acquire a certificate and additional experience.  In addition to her responsibilities as a student, she also served as an assistant faculty member and soon took charge of the Department of Vocal Music and Education where she quickly gained the reputation as a conscientious and caring teacher. She was described as having a lovable nature, a good character, and winning cheerfulness which made her well-liked by both the students and the teachers. Her sweet personality and reputation as a powerful teacher made her untimely death an even greater shock to the college and to the community.

The circumstances surrounding the accident were never fully understood. There were no actual witnesses and the last person who saw her alive reported that she was safe on a nearby embankment. What happened next is purely conjecture.


A remembrance of Lina McDonald written by members of the faculty

It was not unusual to find Miss McDonald taking long walks. As an assistant member of the faculty, she was not restricted to campus and she was known to relieve the stress of teaching and studying by walking, either with members of the staff or friends in the community. On the afternoon of January 16, 1893, Miss McDonald was returning from a visit with her friend, Mrs. James Glenn in South Greensboro when her path took her close to the railroad tracks, presumably because it created easier walking conditions in the snow. A local man, T. J. Trent, told authorities that the young woman had passed him while he was making his way south, away from the city. He noted that when she was approximately 200 yards beyond him, she paused and appeared to contemplate her path. She then reversed course and headed back toward to the city, passing him again. About that time, Mr. Trent heard the sound of the oncoming train, but had lost sight of Miss McDonald who he believed had continued to her destination. It was only later that he heard that she had been struck by the train; her body discovered by a local hunter, lying on the track in the snow. Sadly, the engineer had not seen her and the accident had gone unnoticed by the train crew or the passengers.

As a crowd gathered around the lifeless body, no one could identify her. It was only later that evening when someone discovered a college laundry tag reading “Lina McD ” on her clothing that someone remembered a young woman by the name of Lina McDonald attended the State Normal, and college president Charles Duncan McIver was notified. Two days later, McIver and several members of the faculty accompanied Miss McDonald’s remains to her funeral in Raleigh.

The mystery of how she was hit by the train when she was last seen safely on a high embankment was never solved. The official inquest did not hold the engineers responsible for her death and it was generally believed that she may have panicked when she heard the train, causing her to lose her footing and fall on the track. Another proposed explanation was that somehow the train caught part of her clothing, pulling her onto the rails, and causing the train to pass diagonally over her chest. Whatever the circumstances, Lina McDonald was truly mourned and ten years later when asked to write about the first graduates of the State Normal for the campus yearbook, The Decennial, her classmates and colleagues included her in their number.

Monday, November 4, 2019

A Pillar of Inner Strength: Dr. Elisabeth Jastrow

Dr. Elisabeth Anna Marie Jastrow was an Associate Professor of Art History at Woman's College (WC) of the University of North Carolina (now UNC Greensboro) from 1941 until her retirement in 1961. Though she spent the last twenty years of her career teaching art history, her true passion was classical archeology. Elisabeth Jastrow was born October 7, 1890 in Berlin, Germany into a family of intellectuals and developed an early interest in archeology.

Dr. Elisabeth Jastrow
Dr. Jastrow was so interested in archeology that she had planned to pursue a career as an archeologist, though she was thwarted at nearly every turn. Jastrow wrote, "My desire always has been to participate in excavations or to make museum work my career, but both these fields were practically closed to women in Germany." Jastrow worked tirelessly to set herself apart in the field of archeology. She completed her Ph.D. in 1916 as the chaos of World War I was having an impact on all of Europe. Her studies were interrupted in 1914 when she took a break to work as a nurse's aide in a Red Cross Hospital in Riemenstadt for a year.

Jastrow was a voracious learner; she studied and traveled broadly from 1910 through the remainder of her working life. She studied in Greece, Italy, Germany, Denmark, England, Switzerland, Holland, and once in the United States, she continued to travel and studied in Canada, Cuba, and France. Despite earning a Ph.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Heidelberg, Germany and a specialized certification to make molds of sculptural objects from a sculpture studio in Switzerland, finding meaningful work in archeology was a challenge for her. By the 1930s, she had an impressive resume in research, instruction, and museum cataloging. At times though, she had to make do with working as a German tutor or an elementary teacher, but she did so as she continued her own research.

Perhaps more detrimental to her budding career than being a woman in Germany during the 1930s was the fact that she was of Jewish descent. Her family were culturally assimilated Jews but the German race laws instituted in 1933 would put an end to her academic career in Germany. At that time, Jastrow was finally employed at Akademisches Kunst-Museum, University of Bonn, Germany, as an Assistant and Curator working to prepare and publish a catalogue of a collection of Greek vases, a particular interest of hers. However, the Nazi government withdrew her appointment to the museum and she had to leave Germany to continue her career. Jastrow was awarded the International Fellowship of the American Association of University Women for the year of 1934-1935, which allowed her to continue her archeological research in Italy. In 1937, Jastrow’s father died and she was no longer allowed to return to Germany nor could she take any money out of the country. Her father had remained in Germany with her mother and sister until his death. Jastrow stayed in Italy until the summer of 1938 when she travelled to Switzerland to study mold-making to create reproductions of art objects.

Woman's College art students, circa 1940s
In October 1938, Jastrow first came to the United States on a visitor’s visa where she gave lectures on classical archeology at several prominent universities. A friend of her father’s was a professor at Harvard University and hosted her in Cambridge, Massachusetts for an extended stay. In April 1939, Jastrow was offered a year-long position at Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. At the end of that year, she left the United States for Cuba and soon returned as a non-quota immigrant and began the process of becoming an United States citizen. She spent the next couple of years trying to make a living doing translations and occasionally making sculptured reproductions of art objects for museums or artists. Though she reported a certain degree of success, she acknowledged that it was difficult to find much work in light of the world situation in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

In January of 1941, Elisabeth Jastrow first came to Greensboro to work at Woman’s College as an Instructor in Art History. In June 1941, she was hired as an Assistant Professor of Art History and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1953. She also taught German for her first few years at Woman’s College. Jastrow continued her research and travels during her time in Greensboro and published numerous articles and a couple of books.

Jastrow’s contacts and reputation allowed her to bring several significant exhibitions to the Weatherspoon Art Gallery at Woman’s college, including an exhibition from the Museum of Modern Art and an exhibit of photographs of Egyptian Art belonging to the collection of a colleague in Germany. Though her contributions to the field of archeology were numerous and her impact as an educator well documented, her career was no doubt stifled by her limitations of being both a woman and a German Jew during the first half of the 20th century. Her years in Greensboro were marked by her involvement in various organizations related to history and archeology as well as time with her family as her mother eventually came to live with her.

Dr. Elisabeth Jastrow
Dr. Jastrow retired from Woman’s College in 1961 and remained in the Greensboro area until her death at age 91. Her niece and nephew spoke of their aunt at her funeral and described her as a woman of impressive inner strength and discipline as she had pursued a new life and language upon her exile from her native Germany due to "Hitler's madness in Europe". Her niece, who called her Aunt Ebith, described her tender relationship with an aunt who had introduced her to the beauties of antiquity and sent postcards from all over the world as she travelled and continued her research despite the chaos of WWI and WWII. Indeed, Dr. Elisabeth Jastrow was a pillar of inner strength and a model of perseverance for the young women of Woman's College of the University of North Carolina.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Ghosts of UNC Greensboro

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 21, 2019

Dark Shadows, Deep Closets: A LGBT History Month Special Post

originally published by Stacey Krim in 2015

When reflecting upon events that serve as vehicles for social consciousness, a library book display is unlikely to rate as an impactful medium to facilitate and stimulate dialogue relating to controversial topics. Such displays are passive and frequently overlooked. However, a book exhibit installed in Jackson Library, at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, launched the student body into a critical discussion relating to gender, sex, and ethnicity.

In Jackson Library, PRIDE!, the LGBTQ student organization on campus at the time, constructed a book display, featuring queer African American authors and entertainers in honor of Black History Month in February of 2002. The exhibit, titled “Dark Shadows, Deep Closets,” communicated the conflicts faced and achievements earned by LGBTQ individuals in the Black community. The display consisted of books from the library collection that focused on homosexuality and ethnicity, as well as contained photographs of significant queer figures in African American history. The exhibit counts as among the first public initiatives on the UNCG campus exploring the intersectionalities of race, sex, and gender.

The display immediately attracted attention. The library received over a dozen phone calls objecting to the exhibit within the first day. The officers of the Student Government Association were bombarded with so many complaints that there was fear PRIDE!’s funding was in jeopardy. The student newspaper, The Carolinian, devoted extensive coverage to the student body’s reactions to the exhibit and the evolution of the discussion, beginning with race, transferring to money, and ending with politics.

In the first week of the display, campus opinion very much focused on sexuality and race. Interviews in The Carolinian featured the opposing positions, revealing the struggles encountered by LGBTQ individuals in the African American community. A student protesting the display, stating “This is black history month and that’s something to be proud of… And gays ain’t something to be proud of.” A member of PRIDE! From Greensboro College (who is identified as a gay African American male) maintained, “We’re celebrating Black History month by showing people another side of it. I would never say anything derogatory about black American homosexuals…”

As discussion about the display and the role of PRIDE! as an organization continued throughout the month of February and into March, the subject matter transitioned from race and sexuality to that of money. The argument opposing the funding of PRIDE! with student fees has been debated for decades. Several students viewed the conflict brought about by the exhibit as an opportunity to revisit the issue. One student argued that, “relatively few students are concerned with issues relating to sexual orientation until they are brought up by groups like PRIDE!. So to say that we as students should pay for a group supporting an issue we are unconcerned about – I really don’t agree with this.”        

However, some students saw PRIDE! not as a student organization devoted to creating an inclusive campus environment for students of all sexualities and genders, but as a platform for spreading political ideology hiding behind a civil rights-oriented student organization. In a letter to the editor of The Carolinian, the most vocal opponent against PRIDE!, Jason Crawford, argued that “PRIDE uses the homosexual issue as a shield to insulate themselves from critics that might otherwise have something to say about their increasingly radical left-wing agenda.” Crawford maintained that PRIDE!’s support of “anti-war rallies” and establishment of “forums that question our government were initiatives intended to deliberately provoke politically conservative students. He called for the SGA designation of PRIDE! as a non-budgetary organization in order that student organizations be held to a high “standard of accountability. Therefore student groups that receive money from students should make reasonable effort to not offend significant numbers of students.”

In spite of vocal opposition, the story ends with the exhibit remaining in Jackson Library through the month, PRIDE! keeping its funding, and the launching of a much needed discussion relating to sexuality and gender in the campus community. This entire event took place during a time UNCG was introducing several initiatives to make the campus more inclusive for sex and gender diversity, including Safe Zone Ally training for staff and faculty and the inclusion of a statement of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation in the UNCG policy manual. Perhaps the greatest indication of progress can be viewed in that PRIDE! and University Libraries recreating the display for Black History Month in 2013 without any complaints. Who would think a book display in the library could stir such progress? 

Monday, October 14, 2019

“From a Tuning Fork to the Pearls off of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Coat:” Our College Museum

In 1915, only a few years before the start of World War I, Walter Clinton Jackson, the head of the History Department of the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNC Greensboro), decided to create a campus Historical Museum, which would house important “relics of the state.” These artifacts were meant to reflect the industrial, cultural, and military history of North Carolina, and provide the students with a direct link to their state’s past.

South Carolina Currency, Part of the Museum's Collection
 One of the most important inspirations and supporters of this museum was Colonel Frederick Augustus Olds, who visited the college in December of that year. Colonel Olds was the “Field Collector” for the Hall of History in Raleigh. Olds traveled throughout North Carolina collecting artifacts, and owned a large personal collection of historic material. When the Hall of History was established in 1902, Olds donated his sizable collection and became its first director.*

It was during a visit to Raleigh in the spring of 1914, that the idea for a college museum took root at the State Normal. On the invitation of Colonel Olds, Dr. Jackson’s North Carolina History class visited the Hall of History, and the students’ interest in their state was ignited! Recognizing the young women’s enthusiasm for his collection, Olds donated a large and valuable assortment of Native American artifacts, to help the college start its museum.

Colonel Frederick Augustus Olds
Olds came the State Normal campus in December 1915 to help the students start their campus museum. He proved to be a charming and talented speaker, regaling the young women with interesting and romantic tales from North Carolina’s past. Olds’ visit was a special one for the fledgling museum, as he to become a major patron, donating many items from his personal collection to the college.

Originally, one of the classrooms in the Administration Building (now the Foust Building) was designated for the museum. Exhibit cases were filled with local artifacts and heirlooms, and the walls were lined with maps and historic pictures. Depending primarily on gifts from students, faculty, and local collectors, the little museum displayed Confederate uniforms and period clothing, old guns and other “relics of war,” furniture, land records, diaries, and correspondence. Students described the museum's contents as ranging “from a tuning fork to the pearls off of Sir Walter Raleigh’s coat!”

The collection eventually grew to over 1,000 items, including reproductions of historic documents, which could be handled by the students in the course of their studies. One such document was a copy of a 1713 treatise between the state of North Carolina and the Tuscarora Native Americans, assuring the official recognition of their tribe. Another treasure was a copy of a 1788 “challenge to a duel” signed by President Andrew Jackson, which resulted from a dispute over a court case. Other prized possessions included Babylonian votive tablets, which had decipherable writing dated to 2350 BCE. These tablets were donated by noted archaeologist, Dr. Holt after lecturing at the college. The collection also boasted Continental and Revolutionary currency, as well as a large collection of Confederate notes. Indian arrowheads were also in abundance.

Land Document, Part of the Museum's Collection

The museum was still accumulating material in the 1930s, and it had moved its location to the Carnegie Library (now the Forney Building).Through the decades, the museum was to add to its collection, including the school’s “Service Flag,” with stars representing the students’ family members who had enlisted in World War I, local quilts and textiles, and a small science-based collection. When students from the Science Department traveled to Beaufort, North Carolina, to do research on marine life, the class contributed items that they had collected on the shore to the museum.

Dr. Walter Clinton Jackson, 1948
In 1933, a fire at the library where the museum was housed damaged or destroyed many of the artifacts. At that time, it seems that much of the material was packed and stored in the attic of the Administration Building. In 1949, as Dr. Jackson, now the College’s Chancellor, made plans to retire, he decided to disperse the remnants of the College Museum for preservation and safe keeping. A committee was formed and over 100 items were inventoried and divided between the Home Economics Department’s “Costume Collection” and the Library. Other items were given away. From the material that was transferred to the Library, only a small box of documents remains. It is now part the Manuscripts Collection in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives. The box includes a few letters, broadsides, pamphlets, currency, stamps, and land records. The rest of the items that were transferred to the Library are lost.

*The Hall of History became the North Carolina History Museum in 1965.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Development of the Weatherspoon Art Museum: Bridging Art and Education

Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon
Elizabeth "Lizzie" McIver enrolled at the State Normal and Industrial School at its opening in October 1892. She was the younger sister of the school's founding president Charles Duncan McIver. In fact, one of the drivers that led McIver to advocate for State Normal was the lack of reasonably priced institutions in North Carolina for Lizzie to continue her education after completing studies at Peace Institute in Raleigh (where her brother worked prior to the opening of State Normal). After completing a year at State Normal, Lizzie taught in the Greensboro city schools until 1900, when she marries James R. Weatherspoon of Sanford, NC. When her husband died four years after their marriage, however, she returned to Greensboro and teaching.

She served as a supervisor of the first grade classes at the Curry School, the teaching school on the State Normal campus. Mrs. Weatherspoon's abiding love, however, was art. While at Curry, she taught private classes in art. And, in 1906, she officially joined the State Normal faculty as an art instructor, focusing on art education for elementary school teachers. She was also a charter member and the first president of the art division of the North Carolina Education Association.

Mrs. Weatherspoon was also a strong advocate for the establishment of a Department of Art at State Normal. Finally in 1935, she saw that dream come true, and she was named an associate professor in the new department. Four years later, however, on May 25, 1939, Mrs. Weatherspoon passed away at her home on Tate Street after an extended illness.

The year following Mrs. Weatherspoon's death, the art department moved into its new home in the McIver Memorial Building. A small gallery space was opened in the building, and, in 1941, the gallery was officially named the Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon Gallery.

One of the early exhibits in the Weatherspoon Art Gallery featured 24 lithograph prints showcasing modern English art. Reflecting Mrs. Weatherspoon's interest in art education for elementary school students as well as the art department's emphasis on the gallery as a teaching space, 10 of the 24 lithographs were specifically chosen because they were to appeal to children.

Weatherspoon Art Gallery space in the McIver Building
For the next 15 years, the Weatherspoon Gallery in the McIver Memorial Building featured a wide array of art from around the world. Exhibits included textiles, furniture, paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, and more. A particular emphasis was placed on contemporary art as well as the space as a source for the practice and teaching of art. A donation in 1950 of the million-dollar Cone Collection from sisters Etta and Claribel Cone of Baltimore, served as one of the gallery's earliest and most important acquisitions. This donation included six bronzes by Henri Matisse and over 100 works by Matisse, Picasso, and other modern French artists.

McIver Memorial was closed due to numerous building hazards and issues in 1956. But, the new McIver Building opened in 1960 and featured a special wing specifically constructed for the Weatherspoon Gallery.

The Weatherspoon Gallery continued to grow in its new location, collecting new pieces and building a large audience. In fact, when actor Vincent Price visited UNCG in 1977, his first request in the way of sightseeing was the Weatherspoon Art Gallery. In particular, he wanted to see one of the gallery's most valuable pieces, Willem de Kooning's "Woman," which Price declared to be "an asset to any gallery." He reportedly studied the painting for a full 10 minutes as part of his 90 minute behind-the-scenes gallery tour.

Director Ruth Beesch with de Kooning's "Woman"
By the late 1980s, however, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery had far outgrown its space in the McIver Building. In 1989, the Weatherspoon found its new (and current) home -- the Cone Building, named in honor of Anne Wortham Cone (Class of 1935) and her husband, Benjamin Cone, Sr. The $7.5 million building opened at the corner of Spring Garden and Tate Street and provided the Weatherspoon Art Gallery with nearly five times as much space as they had previously had in the McIver Building. Gallery director Ruth K. Beesch declared, "we've gone from rags to riches."

In 2001, the name of the Weatherspoon Art Gallery was changed to the Weatherspoon Art Museum to more adequately reflect its function and mission as the gallery had grown and expanded in size and scope. Today, the Museum continues to maintain a exhibition calendar as well as full roster of educational activities, publications, and outreach efforts.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Physician, Professor, and Medical Missionary Annie V. Scott (class of 1914)

Greensboro native Annie Vellna Scott arrived at State Normal and Industrial College in Fall 1910 at the age of 21. She was an active student at the State Normal and Industrial College as well as an early entrepreneur. She served on the board of directors of State Normal Magazine as a representative from the Adelphian Literary Society. She also held a leadership position with the campus YWCA group and was a member of the Student Volunteer Board. And, in a display of her ingenuity, she paid her expenses at the State Normal and Industrial College by selling subscriptions to Current Opinion magazine.

Annie V. Scott, 1914 Pine Needles yearbook
In addition to her service and work on campus, Scott was known for her keen intellect and interest in current events. Her entry in the 1914 Pine Needles yearbook described her as“a ready authority upon scientific investigation and present day topics, for she is a thorough student of all the sciences our curriculum affords.”

After graduating with a bachelor of science degree from State Normal in 1914, she attended the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (now part of Drexel University College of Medicine). She received her medical degree in 1918 and was one of only two women to receive licenses that year from the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners.

Scott served for two years as an intern at Lying-in Hospital and at Bellevue Hospital before she sailed for China in 1920. She worked mostly in North China, principally at Shantung Christian University's Cheeloo Hospital as a professor and chief of pediatrics. Her work included everything from teaching medical school students to operating a private clinic to serving as school physician for three primary schools. She also published a book on pediatric medicine in China as well as numerous journal articles. 

Her service in China was not continuous, however. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, going to war against the United States, Dr. Scott and other Americans in the area were repatriated. She was an instructor in pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Medical School until 1946, when she returned to China. Dr. Scott left China for the last time in 1951, when Chinese Communists forces intervened against the United States in Korea. For four years, she returned to Columbia University, serving as a visiting professor of pediatrics.

In 1954, she became clinical professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina. In this role, her research primarily focused on the detection and prevention of tuberculosis in children. She retired in 1964, and moved to High Point.

Scott receiving her honorary doctorate from UNCG in 1967
Scott received numerous awards for her medical work and service. In 1959, she earned the Alumnae Achievement Award from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. The North Carolina Public Health Association awarded her a merit citation in 1965 for "her long years of dedicated and unselfish service as pediatrician, clinician, teacher, educator and her many achievements with broad public health application" In 1967 at its annual Founders Day ceremony, UNCG presented Scott with an honorary doctor of science degree. Her "outstanding Christian medical service" in China earned her a special citation from the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, USA.

On February 1, 1975, Scott passed away and was buried at Alamance Presbyterian Church cemetery in Greensboro. Her tombstone includes a special inscription: "served 30 years in China in medical missions."

Monday, September 16, 2019

Dr. John H. Cook: A Progressive Advocate for North Carolina's Teachers

On March 25, 1936, North Carolina Republican Chairman William C. Meekins expressed his disappointment that Woman's College's dean of the department of education Dr. John H. Cook would not accept the party's nomination as candidate for the state superintendent of public instruction. Cook declared that while he was "tremendously interested in public education and [he] expect[ed] to continue to work for its advancement along soundly progressive lines," he felt that his calling was to be a professional, not a political, leader in the fight for public education improvements in North Carolina. Cook had been a staunch advocate for public education and educators in North Carolina since arriving in Greensboro in 1918, and he would continue that fight until his unexpected death from a heart attack in 1941.

Cook began his work at the State Normal and Industrial College (later Woman's College, now UNCG) when he was hired as head of the department of education in 1918. After a campus-wide reorganization in 1922, his title was changed from "head" to "dean." In 1921, he worked to organize the campus Education Club, a professional and social organization for seniors doing their student teaching and education faculty. He also served as director of summer school, which primarily provided teacher training courses, for 15 years. During his time leading the department, Cook was a strong proponent in specialized training for teachers, with a practical internship component.

This emphasis on education as a unique discipline often led to conflict with the college administration. In 1928, President Julius Foust (himself a former education professor) put forth a proposal to eliminate the education major for undergraduates and instead require students to acquire a major in the discipline in which they planned to teach (history degrees for history teachers, mathematics degree for math teachers, etc.). Cook disagreed vehemently, citing the college catalog's statement of the chief mission of the school being "the preparation of teachers." In an April 3, 1928, letter to Foust, Cook wrote, "how queer it would seem that students were forbidden to major along the line of the chief purpose of the college." Foust dropped the proposal and the education major remained.

In addition to Cook's contributions to the betterment of the department of education, he sought to better the welfare of public school teachers across the state of North Carolina. He was a prominent speaker at civic and education groups across the state. At a January 31, 1936, meeting of the Greensboro Civitan Club, Cook took the progressive stance in favor of allowing married women -- even married women with children -- to continue teaching. He declared, "let a woman go ahead and marry and have one or two children if she cares to; then she is all the better prepared to work with the children of others."

In particular, he was a staunch advocate for establishing tenure and a retirement system for the state's teachers. Cook argued publicly for "a permanency of tenure that would preclude the influence of politics and allow participation in the progressive life of the community without so much fear of public opinion." He also served as chairman of the Committee on Retirement Legislation of the North Carolina Education Association. In this role he worked with teachers and legislators to develop a retirement plan for state employees. This plan provided for matching contributions by the state and the individual.

In a brochure written by Cook for members of the North Carolina Education Association, he wrote that "insecurity for old age is a specter that has persistently haunted ninety-five per cent of our people from early middle age until life ends." He cited an "examining physician for a well known life insurance company" in writing about the importance of a life-long annuity in providing stability in retirement and freedom from "financial worry." He wrote "release an old man by means of an annuity from all this worry, and he throws off his years and walks erect, happy and fearlessly young."

Sadly, Cook did not live to see the implementation of the retirement system he'd fought so hard to develop -- a system that, while changed over the years, continues to benefit state employees today. On January 16, 1941, at the age of 59, Cook suffered a heart attack in his office in the Curry Building. He was carried to his nearby home, where he died shortly thereafter. Services were held at West Market Street Methodist Church, where Cook had served as a steward. The WC faculty wrote in a memorial tribute praising Cook's "friendliness, his tolerant attitude, his tendency to see the good in people, his sincerely tactful consideration for others, his sense of humor, his fearlessness in standing for his own convictions." They added that "we are enriched in that he lived among us and worked with us. Through his deeds his life continues to speak to us and motivate us."

Monday, September 2, 2019

Student Voices of the 1920s: The First Decade of the Coraddi


Established in 1897, the Coraddi is the longest running publication on the UNC Greensboro campus. Originally published as an art and literature journal under the name State Normal Magazine, it became the Coraddi when the school transitioned into the North Carolina College for Women in 1919. The new title derived from an amalgamation of the names of the Cornelian, the Adelphian, and the Dikean literary societies. While the magazine initially reported college news, in the 1920s it began to feature student editorials, short fiction, book reviews, and poetry. 

The Coraddi, April 1925
Within the pages of the magazine, the young women pondered their role as members of the student body and as citizens of the broader world. Featured articles and poetry revealed the sheltered young women’s desires for travel and adventure. Their writings reflected real and imaginary activities, ranging from an actual trip to a YWCA Conference in Philadelphia to an imagined voyage to France. One student dreamed of hopping a train like a “hobo,” and heading to parts unknown.

The Coraddi, December 1928
In addition to tales of travel, the Coraddi also included matters closer to home. An editorial titled, “Students in the Library,” featured an anonymous complaint about the general noise level in the library, speculating that there were only a “half a dozen students on the campus who really try to study.” Further complaints were levied against her peers who were in the habit of borrowing reserved material without checking it out. Another student turned her criticism toward campus teachers in an editorial titled, “The College Delusion.” She declared that the students didn’t need faculty by their senior year, claiming “what we learn is of our own digging, and does not issue from the knowledge of any one else.” Another student, Mary McDuffie, penned an article in defense of chewing gum, an activity basically outlawed by the faculty.

The Coraddi, October 1925
 The Coraddi also became an important venue for students to express their feelings and beliefs, which were in some cases, very liberal for the times. In a fall 1924 article, Mary Eliason challenged her classmates to understand African Americans through the spirit and soul of their poetry, and not through “unsympathetic Anglo-Saxon” eyes. She stressed that it is through the poetry of African Americans that one can hear their “cries of despair, of hope, of remonstrances.” Other students wrote their own poetry, with themes such as waiting, life, change, and wanderlust. Book reviews were also a popular addition to the magazine, allowing students to honestly assess novels by women authors, such as Edith Wharton and Frances Brett Young. 


The magazine’s cover art also gave students a way to express their creativity. While the early Coraddi covers were simple, by the mid-20s, both whimsical and modern artwork began to appear. A student contest determined what design would be on the cover. The student would not only have her work featured on the front of the magazine, she would also receive five dollars. In some cases, the artist’s initials are woven into the pen and ink drawings – “ABJ” seems to be the illustrator of Coraddis published in1924 and 1925. Other cover art remains anonymous. 

The Coraddi, December 1928
The creative designs and writings in the Coraddi mirrored the imagination, hopes, and dreams of the students attending the North Carolina College for Women in the 1920s. Now the magazine, published semi-annually, continues to provide a platform to showcase art and literature from current students, faculty, staff, and alumni.