Monday, July 29, 2019

Spartan Pets: Faculty and their Dogs in UNCG History

Mary Channing Coleman and Bonnie
In an oral history interview conducted in 2006, Celeste Ulrich (Woman's College class of 1946 and professor in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from 1956-1979) discussed her life-long love of dogs and her extensive time spent training animals. She noted that, when she arrived at Woman's College as a student in the Fall of 1942, she felt at home because so many of the faculty members had dogs.

For Ulrich and many other students at WC, these faculty pets served as a conversation starter or a way for students to move past shyness or intimidation. As Ulrich stated, "students that were frightened of teachers and so on would come in and pet the dogs, and pretty soon they'd be talking to the teachers about what their real problems were."

Katherine Taylor and Suki
Faculty dogs appear quite frequently in stories of campus history. Mary Channing Coleman, who led the physical education program from 1921 until her death in 1947, was well known among the student body for being a challenging and intimidating instructor. But she was equally well known for her fox terrier, Bonnie. Bonnie traveled with Coleman around campus and even to class. In Ulrich's word, Bonnie "was just as equally ferocious as Miss Coleman."

Katherine Taylor, a 1928 graduate and Dean of Students from 1948 until her retirement in 1972, was also known around campus for her dogs. One of Taylor's pets, a one-eyed basset hound named Suki, made an unexpected appearance in the 1967 Pine Needles (the campus yearbook). According to John Robinson, who served as the photography editor that year, he needed a photograph of Taylor for the yearbook, but he was on a tight deadline. He managed to catch her on campus as she was taking Suki for a walk. Robinson felt bad about taking a photo of Taylor when she was unprepared and "she didn't even have a chance to brush out her hair." But, after the yearbook was published, Taylor thanked him for the picture, saying it was one of her favorites because it captured Suki's "good side."

Faculty dog show (Bardolph, Taylor, and Griffin)
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a faculty dog show was held as part of the Purse Drive, a campus-wide fundraising activity led by the WC's Service League. In 1958, the dog show, held in the Elliott Hall ballroom, concluded the week-long charity effort. In 1962, the Pine Needles featured a photograph of Taylor along with professors Richard Bardolph (History and Political Science department) and Ellen Griffin (Physical Education department) at the dog show. Suki can be seen hiding in the background.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Charles Duncan McIver and the Rise of Teachers Institutes in North Carolina

Charles Duncan McIver, president and founder of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNC Greensboro), had an interest in expanding women’s education which began much earlier than the founding of the college in 1891. His dedication to teaching and his commitment to meeting the challenges of educating women in the post-Reconstruction South began during his college years at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). While at the university, he and his classmates, Edwin Alderman and James Joyner, became aware of the miserable condition of education in their state. The young men discovered that the problems stemmed from citizens’ general indifference toward education and their reticence to fund it with tax dollars. They realized that there needed to be deep changes of attitude, as well as legislation, to truly revolutionized North Carolina education.

Charles Duncan McIver with a group of educators at a Teaching Institute

In addition to these educational challenges, North Carolina faced severe economic issues in the years following the end of the Civil War in 1865. Many of the state’s citizens were impoverished, earning meager livings on small farms. The western part of the state was even worse off than the rest, due to its relatively rural and isolated population. In addition to these considerable financial and logistical obstacles, McIver found the state unwilling to embrace change. The population’s general opposition to taxation and state legislation over regional education made the improvement of the public-school system almost impossible. Funding for education, therefore, was sparse. Those who could afford it attended church-affiliated private schools, and those who could not were left with underfunded public alternatives.

After graduation from the University of North Carolina, McIver and Alderman found teaching positions and quickly gained reputations as leaders in public education in North Carolina. In 1886, McIver became Vice-President of the Teachers’ Assembly and began to openly advocate for educating young women to become teachers and help close the state’s abysmal education gap. He understood that providing women with adequate education would afford them a certain amount of freedom and life choices while also helping improve North Carolina’s educational system. Although his ultimate goal was to establish a teachers’ college supported by tax payers’ money, that dream proved to be ahead of its time. Even though the Teachers’ Assembly supported the idea of a woman’s college, it ultimately failed to pass the state legislature in 1887 and 1889.

Charles Duncan McIver and Edwin Alderman

These legislative efforts, while ultimately failures, featured passionate speeches and debate from McIver and his allies. An accomplished and charismatic orator, McIver made a good case to the General Assembly, stating “Is there any good reason why we should make annual appropriations for the benefit of our sons and disregard this modest and only request that our daughters have ever made in that direction?... Unless some such measure as this is adopted, these girls, and those of coming generations similarly situated, are doomed to live and drudge and die without ever having known the blessing of being independent, and frequently without having ever gone beyond the borders of their own counties.” (1)

Yet despite his arguments, the General Assembly was unwilling to support a public women’s college at that time, although, they did approve week-long teachers’ institutes to be given in each county. These institutes would provide professional training to North Carolina teachers (men and women) and would eventually demonstrate to the legislature - and to the public - that this type of training was needed and appreciated.

Rewarding their commitment and perseverance, McIver and Alderman were chosen by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create the teacher institutes. To help with this monumental task, they were given the charge to recruit others of like mind and abilities, and they engaged their college friend J. Y. Joyner, as well as other committed educators. The men felt that they were facing an uphill battle against deficient schoolhouses, incompetent teachers, lack of uniformity in textbooks, and parental apathy. (2) Thus, they began the grueling task of traveling to each county, attempting to train the over 5000 public school teachers, focusing on how to organize a class, how to manage students, and how to teach effectively. (3)

They held the teaching institutes for three years and they were extremely popular. This was due, not in small part, to McIver’s strong and charismatic personality. His friend James Joyner described him and “the most irresistible and convincing speaker I ever heard,” and Alderman believed that he was “the most effective speaker for public education that I have known in America.” (4)

State Normal and Industrial School

Finally, in 1891, the legislature approved the creation of the State Normal and Industrial School, which was designed to “prepare young women to earn a livelihood in teaching or in business.” The school opened in October 1892, with McIver as its president and Alderman as a professor of English and History. Joyner came later, becoming the head of the English Department on Alderman’s departure.

(1) The Decennial, Greensboro, NC: State Normal and Industrial School, 1902.
(2) Interestingly, the participating teachers would also be asked to assess the program to improve the “efficiency of the system.” Reports of Conductors of County Institutes in North Carolina; Report of Prof. E. A. Alderman, 1889-1990. Charles Duncan McIver Records, 1855-1906, Box 139.
 (3) Ibid.
(4) Notebook, Lula Martin Mclver Papers, Folder 1, Charles Duncan McIver Records, 1855-1906, Box 139.; Edwin A. Alderman, "The Life and Work of Dr. Charles D. Mclver,” North Carolina Journal of Education, 1 (December 15, 1906): 6.

Monday, July 15, 2019

From Homemaking to Global Industry Professionals in Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies

Students setting the table during their internship
at the Home Management House, circa 1940s
The Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS), as it is now known, can be traced to the earliest days of State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG). In 1892, the founder of UNCG, Dr. Charles D. McIver, envisioned a college for women that would not only prepare students for careers in teaching or business but would also foster their development as wives and mothers. Antiquated as that latter goal may seem now, from the earliest days of classes on the State Normal campus, young women were engaged in the study of foods and cooking as well as learning how to sew and make clothing. 

Students draping a model, ca. 1950
As soon as 1904, students could even major in Domestic Arts, which included studies in clothing and textiles. The Department of Clothing and Textiles and Housing, established in 1917, has evolved quite significantly over the twentieth century and even celebrated its 100th year as a department on campus in 2017. In its earliest manifestation, the CARS department offered courses in sewing, design, textiles, color, textiles manufacturing, historic textiles, and millinery.

During the 1920s, as many buildings were constructed on campus, a Home Management House was built on McIver Street in 1922 and the Home Economics building was constructed in 1928. The Home Management House was developed as a place for what would now be called experiential learning. Students could put into practice the skills they were learning in their courses, whether cooking, sewing, child care, decorating, or financial management.

The first Bachelor of Science Degree in Home Economics was awarded in 1922 and the first Master of Science Degree in Home Economics was bestowed in 1928. The 1937 College Catalog, included a description of some of the courses offered, including Problems of Family Finance, Advanced Home Furnishing, Home Relationships, and Food Selection and Preparation.

Design student with a drawing,
ca. 1950
During the early 1940s, a second Home Management House was built on West Market Street and became part of the home economics curriculum. The program goals were explained as: "A six weeks period of residence in a home management house is required of all seniors in home economics. It is the culmination of four years study of theory--a practical unifying experience. Each girl has the opportunity to evaluate the house as a satisfactory back ground for enriched family life. The choice, arrangement, care and use of equipment is planned with the purpose of making an efficient, attractive and liveable home." [sic]

CARS became the Area of Clothing and Textiles in 1936 and, in 1975, was renamed again to the Department of Clothing and Textiles. In 1997, as the department experienced another transformation, it was renamed the Department of Textile Products Design and Marketing.

Students hanging curtains during their internship
at the Home Management House, ca. 1940s
Over the course of the twentieth century, the field of Home Economics diversified dramatically and now extends well beyond its origins of training for women in homemaking skills. Fields of study that may have traditionally fallen under the heading of Home Economics are now represented by distinct departments at UNC Greensboro, including degree programs in Economics, Education, Human Development & Family Studies, Nutrition, Public Health Education, and CARS.

CARS has evolved into a strong academic program preparing students for careers in apparel design, retail and consumer studies, and global apparel and related industries. In 1995, the department was selected for the Award of Excellence by the American Textile Manufacturers' Institute for the outstanding curriculum as well as for faculty and student work with industry professionals. CARS has enjoyed involvement of industry leaders such as Cone Mills (based in Greensboro until its disestablishment in 2004), VF Corporation, Burlington Industries, and various others in the Triad area through an industry advisory board as
well as through scholarships, internships, tours, and lectures.

Home Management House on McIver Street, ca. 1922

As of June 2018, "CARS ranks No. 4 among fashion merchandising programs at public and private universities in the South and is one of the top 15 programs at public universities across the nation for fashion merchandising. The rankings are based on academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and value of program and geographic location." From its humble beginnings in 1892, CARS has become a nationally recognized academic program preparing students for professional careers around the world.


Harrison, E. L. (2018, June 27). UNGGNow. Retrieved July 3, 2019, from

Unknown author (2006). History of the Department of Textile Products Design and Marketing. Retrieved August 10, 2006, from
Copy of article obtained from Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Birth of the North Carolina State High School Music Contest-Festival

Over the next two weeks, UNC Greensboro will play host to hundreds of students attending Summer Music Camp. The Summer Music Camp, which began in 1983, has grown to be the largest university music camp in America. In two one-week sessions, students are instructed in band, mixed chorus, orchestra, and piano. But the Summer Music Camp is not the first program for younger music students on the UNCG campus. On Friday, May 7, 1920, thirteen pianists from high schools across North Carolina arrived on campus (which was then known as the North Carolina College for Women) to compete in the first musical contest for students ever to be held in the state.

Wade R. Brown
The North Carolina State High School Music Contest-Festival was the brainchild of Wade R. Brown, who had begun his work on campus as the Director of the Department of Music in 1912. During this period, music was not part of the standard curriculum in secondary schools in North Carolina. Rarely were music teachers employed in public schools, and, when they were, this was typically only to teach private piano lessons in a designated classroom. As Brown wrote, "in our own state (and over most of the South) our educational leaders and the public as a whole seemed indifferent to the cultural value of music in education and to the final contribution it had to offer in a social democracy such as ours."

In hopes of improving this situation, in 1919, Brown decided to attempt to organize a music contest aimed at high school students in North Carolina. Due to the fact that piano performance was the only type of music taught in public schools at that time, they determined to focus the contest on that instrument alone. With the blessings of President Julius Foust, Brown wrote a letter to high school principals and piano teachers across the state announcing that this piano contest for high school students would be held at the North Carolina College for Women on May 7, 1920. Each school was invited to send one pianist to represent them in the contest.

Brown turned the competition into a weekend-long event. Competitors and their teachers were invited to be guests at a performance by E. Robert Schmitt, a celebrated French pianist. On the day of the contest, they were treated to another special piano performance by one of the members of the senior class at NCCW.

Performance program from the 1920 competition
While fourteen student enrolled in the competition, only thirteen appeared on the day of the contest. Beginning at 10:30am, each student performed a solo piece before a panel of three judges. The judges were faculty members from Salem College, Greensboro College, and NCCW. From among the thirteen, those judges selected six to play again that evening at 8:00pm in the finals. The contest drew a large number of students, visiting teachers, and the general public to observe the final competition. After the six finalist performed, the audience was entertained by "an informal program of community singing" and a short lecture on the importance of music education while the judges conferred.

In the end, the judges selected Jessie Mercer of the Wilmington High School as the winner of the first contest. She was awarded "the silver loving cup, given by the Euterpe Club of Greensboro, which was to remain in her possession until the next State Contest."

Competitors at one of the contests in the late 1920s
The state contest continued to grow over the years. In 1922, competitions for glee clubs and violin soloists joined the piano contests. Orchestra competitions were added in 1925. Additional contests for strings (1927), woodwinds (1928), and brass (1928) also appeared. By 1929, the contest had grown so popular that students were divided into classifications based on the enrollment of their high school. Additionally, students in smaller high schools (those with enrollments under 500 had to survive a "District Elimination Contest" prior to traveling to Greensboro.

Ultimately, these contests also helped impact the music education curriculum in North Carolina secondary schools. As Brown noted in his introduction to the 1946 pamphlet The State Music Contest-Festival: A History, "these great annual gatherings ... have done so much to make a real beginning in musical appreciation and artistic development among the youth of North Carolina."

Monday, July 1, 2019

1932: The Year of the Co-eds at Woman's College

Until it was made co-educational in 1964, Woman’s College (now UNCG) was pretty clear in the fact that it was a single-gender institution. Male students were allowed to enroll in summer school courses and graduate programs (at least until the 1950s and 1960s when the UNC system asserted limitations over male enrollment at the school), but they did so in small numbers. Undergraduate education, however, remained reserved for women only - with a single exception.

The Men of 1932: Undergraduate male students at Woman's College
During the 1932-1933 academic year, President Julius Foust decided to allow young men from the Greensboro area to enroll at WC. Parents and the young men themselves petitioned for admittance, citing dire financial constraints due to the Great Depression. Were they not allowed to attend WC, they might not be able to enroll in college at all that year.

In total 80 men enrolled at WC that year (48 freshman, 21 sophomores, two juniors, and nine others). With the exception of a hygiene course, these co-eds took the same courses as the female students. While they represented only a tiny fraction of the 1,556 students enrolled at the college at the time, these men met resistance upon their arrival. An October 13, 1932 letter to the editor in The Carolinian argued that the men were “so abominably conceited.” They weren’t allowed to wear their own swimsuits for gym classes; instead, they were required to wear the same baggy tank suits used by the women. 

The men did adapt to life at the Woman’s College, however. They founded their own Men’s Association, formed for the purpose of “dealing with campus problems and administrative relations peculiar to the men students.” Wyatt Taylor, a former standout basketball player at the University of Texas who was serving at the time as a swimming instructor at the local YMCA, was hired to manage an athletic program for these men.
Officers of the 1932-33 Men's Association at Woman's College

Part of the athletic program included an intercollegiate basketball team, known as the Tom Cats. Games were scheduled against Elon, High Point, Guilford College, and other nearby institutions. In January 1933, the team scored its first victory, with a 14-11 win over Liberty. The Carolinian noted that the team was “starting off well, and when they get in condition they are due to show the college some real basketball.” A swimming team and a football team were also developed for competition against local schools.

Although the Pine Needles yearbook stated that “it is believed now that co-education will be a permanent fixture on campus,” the experiment with co-education at the WC lasted only a single year. Indeed, president Foust strongly advocated for co-education. In a September 1933 letter to Frank Porter Graham, president of The University of North Carolina system, he wrote, “we can not justify from the standpoint of justice, right and consistency, the admission of girls to the Chapel Hill and Raleigh units without extending the same privilege to boys at the Greensboro unit.” Ultimately, however, the undergraduate population remained reserved for women until the institution officially admitted men to classes in the Fall of 1964.