Monday, October 9, 2017

Celebrating 125 Years of Opportunity and Excellence: An Exhibit of UNCG History

As part of the University's celebration of 125 years of opportunity and excellence, the Hodges Reading Room in Jackson Library will feature an exhibit of UNCG history through the end of the academic year. Exhibit materials will rotate throughout the year, with new content added on a bimonthly basis. It will conclude on May 31, 2018.

Currently, the exhibit features materials from the founding years of the State Normal and Industrial School, including an original copy of the 1891 Act of Establishment in which the North Carolina legislature founded the institution, the letter sent to Charles Duncan McIver in June 1891 informing him that he had been named the school's first president, and photographs and other document reflecting the faculty and staff who were instrumental in the Normal's early years. Of particular note, the exhibit also includes the always-popular death mask of founding president Charles Duncan McIver, who passed away in 1906.

A second UNCG-themed exhibit currently in Hodges Reading Room explores the early history of the Alumnae (now Alumni) House, which opened in 1937. It was designed by Penrose V. Stout of Bronxville, New York, and modeled after Homewood in Baltimore, Maryland. Photographs, serving dishes, a guest register, and other items important to the Alumnae House are on display.

In future months as the exhibit contents are rotated, themes including social and political protests on campus, student organizations, and faculty contributions will be explored.

For more information on the University Archives and the University's 125th anniversary celebration, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Happy 125th, UNCG!

Today marks the 125th anniversary of the first-ever first day of class at the institution we now know as the University of North Carolina at Greensbroo!! On October 5, 1892, the doors of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) opened its doors for an initial class of 198 women from across North Carolina. The institution was originally chartered by the State of North Carolina in February 1891, with a mission of training female teachers and instructing them in “drawing, telegraphy, type-writing, stenography, and such other industrial arts as may be suitable to their sex and conducive to their support and usefulness.”

After a year spent planning the new school and constructing its facilities, classes began at the State Normal on October 5, 1892. Courses of study were divided into three departments: normal (teaching), business, and domestic science. The normal, listed as the leading department, included pedagogy classes as well as coursework in English, history, math, science, foreign language, art, music, and physical culture.

Founding the State Normal proved to be a milestone in education – and particularly women’s education – in North Carolina and throughout the United States. McIver and the early educators and students at the State Normal set the groundwork for UNCG as it stands today. One hundred twenty-five years after the first classes took place, the legacy remains.

Today, the University will celebrate with a Founders Day Festival on the Quad from 4pm to 6pm. There will be food trucks, live music, and a 125-foot long cake! More details can be found on the 125th website.

You can also study up on UNCG history with our Spartan Stories blog. Additionally, an exhibit focused on the history of the University will be featured in Hodges Reading Room in Jackson Library beginning next week. More details to come!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

University Archives Showcased in 125th Anniversary Celebrations

On October 5, 2017, UNCG will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the first ever first day of school. On that day, nearly 200 women from across North Carolina traveled to Greensboro to attend classes at the State Normal and Industrial School. Over the last few weeks, the University Archives has been busy with pop up exhibits across campus to help promote the university's history and the anniversary celebration.

Following Chancellor Gilliam's State of the Campus address on August 8th, the staff of the University Archives presented a "pop up museum" exhibit in celebration of the 125th anniversary of UNCG's opening. Campus Weekly wrote a great summary of the exhibit.


We debuted our new "portable" university history exhibit (a series of five banners) on August 8th.
One exhibit case featured materials related to founding president Charles Duncan McIver and his wife Lula Martin McIver.
A second case highlighted African American staff on campus at State Normal as well as student life.
Textiles and artifacts on display included gym suits, a class jacket, a nursing university, a Neo-Black Society Gospel Choir robe, a typewriter used by JoAnne Smart Drane, and a drum signed by members of the Darlinettes.

On August 15th, the University Archives set up a pop up exhibit on College Avenue as part of Fall Kickoff, an annual event featuring student organizations and student services. And on the afternoon of August 17th, they presented an exhibit in Jackson Library as part of Rawkin' Welcome Week.

University history under the trees at Fall Kickoff

Stay tuned for information on more exhibits and other opportunities to learn about and celebrate our 125 years! You can also find updates on our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram).

Monday, August 7, 2017

Congressman J. Howard Coble Papers Available for Research

After several years of work, Howard Coble’s papers are now fully organized and available for research at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s University Libraries.

Coble speaking at UNCG in 2009.
The Congressman J. Howard Coble Papers is one of the largest collections at UNCG’s Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). The papers were a donation from Congressman Howard Coble, who served North Carolina’s Sixth District for nearly 30 years.

University Libraries received the initial collection donation in 2007, as well as two additions during Coble’s life and another after his death in 2015.  Manuscripts Archivist Jennifer Motszko directed me during the last two years of organizing the collection.  As a student worker in SCUA in 2012, I was familiar with the legendary Coble collection, primarily because of its enormity. I was thrilled to be brought on board with this collection in August 2015.

The collection was organized and arranged with the help of funds donated by Congressman Coble, his supporters, friends and family. Finishing the collection included item-level organization, light preservation work, labeling, and description in the online inventory.

After two years of fits and starts, punctuated by a detour into work with another collection, I wrapped up arranging and describing the collection in July 2017. As a new archivist, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had so far.

Working with Coble’s papers let me see many archival theories and best practices put into action – including everything from organizing government documents, to protecting private student and health information. Due to its size and varied materials, the collection also let me experience working with new formats, including artifacts and textiles. 

The completed collection comprises 273.8 linear feet, which is 193 boxes of materials. The collection includes a large portion of materials from his career as a legislator, as well as materials related to his service in the Coast Guard, personal materials like family scrapbooks, and audiovisual materials.

Howard Coble in the U.S. Coast Guard, ca. 1950s.
Coble in the U.S. Coast Guard, ca. 1950s.
As I mentioned, the collection was mythic in my mind for its proportions.  It was nearly double the size of the largest collection I had previously organized (the International Double Reed Society records, also housed at UNCG).

Imagine my surprise last August when an additional 30 boxes of constituent correspondence was discovered at the National Archives! The collection was also instructive in patience, and best practices for growing collections.

The Coble collection has a little bit of something for everyone – you can see a Styrofoam boater hat used in one of Coble’s campaigns, to a letter to Coble signed by Bruce Springsteen thanking him for his work on intellectual property issues.

Throughout his time as a Congressman, Coble and his staff were known for attention to resolving constituents’ problems on a case-by-case level. His attention to detail in relation to his constituents’ lives was legendary – you could name your high school in his district, and he would begin talking about the team’s mascot.

In addition to the personal attention to his constituents, Coble was also involved in major legislative and historic changes throughout his tenure as a Congressman. His papers offer a unique glimpse into the political climate of both North Carolina and the country for nearly 30 years.

Some of the topics covered by the collection include the tobacco and textile industries in N.C., immigration, the Persian Gulf and Iraq Wars, same-sex marriage, the Clinton impeachment proceedings, and the rise of the tea party movement.

I was fascinated by the breadth of opinions expressed by constituents. It was both comforting and difficult to see many of the same issues we struggle with today being discussed in letters from 1985 – debates on health care, civil rights, the role of America in foreign countries, and the perennial favorite of taxes have been contentious topics for years.

Coble speaking at a tobacco tax rally, ca. 1980s.
Despite the continuity of certain political issues, the changing of political and social life was evident, particularly on some hot button issues. Most constituents were unanimously opposed to same-sex marriage as late as the early 2000s – but the growth in dissenting opinions over the course of Coble’s career was self-evident and reflective of the developments at the federal and court level.

I certainly lingered over issues that I saw paralleled in today’s life, taking a few seconds to read a line or two about someone’s life from 1985. Despite differences in opinion or feeling removed by the span of time, every constituent’s letter was touching because it represented the American ideal of participatory government.

UNCG’s University Libraries is thrilled to be able to offer full access to Coble’s papers and let patrons catch of glimpse of this political and social history. Staff in Special Collections and University Archives worked to arrange, describe, and make these papers available to students, researchers, faculty, and the general public.

Researchers can access the online inventory to browse the holdings in the collection. To access the materials, please contact SCUA via email or phone to schedule an appointment.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Announcing “Well Crafted: A History of Downtown Greensboro Brewing”

UNCG University Libraries is excited to launch the new project “Well Crafted: A History of Downtown Greensboro Brewing.” This project will collect and promote the history of breweries in downtown Greensboro from the saloons of the 1890s to the craft breweries of today. We will be conducting oral history interviews with many of the key players in the downtown Greensboro brewing scene, digitizing materials related to local brewing history, and creating timelines and maps to help trace the changes in the brewing industry in Greensboro.

You can follow our progress and learn more about local beer history on our soon-to-be-launched website: http://www.wellcraftednc.com. We’ll also be active across a number of social media channels:
Also, stay tuned for details on a big project launch event in April 2018 (coinciding with North Carolina Beer Month)!

Image of the Cascade Saloon in Downtown Greensboro (1904-1905), taken from the pictorial promotional booklet “Southward the Sun of Progress Shines.”

Well Crafted is supported by the 2017-2018 UNCG University Libraries Innovation and Program Enrichment Grant Award. Project leaders are David Gwynn (ERIT), Richard Cox (ERIT), and Erin Lawrimore (SCUA). If you have questions, you can contact us through social media or at wellcraftednc AT gmail DOT com.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Celery Vases: Forgotten Stars of the Victorian Dinner Table

During Summer 2017, the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives will have an exhibit of the Jacocks Celery Vase Collection in the Reference Exhibit Cases. The collection is comprised of 24 matching pairs of celery vases. It is a small part of a 700-piece collection of pressed and cut glass celery vases that was willed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by W.P. Jacocks, who helped to develop the first public health nutrition program in North Carolina. Jacocks, a one-time quarterback at UNC Chapel Hill, went on to receive a Doctorate of Public Health from Johns Hopkins. In the early days of the Public Health Program, Dr. Jacocks was active in the “Hookworm” program, working to eradicate hookworm disease and other ailments in South Asia. In 1942, Jacocks retired to Chapel Hill and he passed away in 1965.


Jacocks began collecting the vases in the 1940s, during his tenure with the State Board of Health in North Carolina. In Victorian times, celery was presented in beautiful and expensive cut glass vases, seen as symbols of wealth. Celery was considered a “high status” food due to its labor intensive growing process and difficulty to keep fresh and was an expensive vegetable. During its period as a status symbol, celery was displayed prominently near the center of the table as an important part of the setting. Pressed glass vases made from a mold were less expensive and therefore more accessible to middle class families. Both pressed and cut glass vases can be seen in this collection. In the final decades of the 1800s, the popularity of celery vases gave way to the celery dish, an attractive, subtle way to show sparkle and still add prestige to the table.

The concept of the celery vase demonstrates how taste and luxury change over the centuries. Scarcity and labor cost made celery a “fashionable commodity,” but as celery gradually became easier to grow, harvest, and keep fresh it was no longer a “rare” or expensive vegetable. In addition, glass d├ęcor, including celery vases, became more accessible and less prestigious and its once prominent place on the dinner table declined.

These pieces from the Jacocks Celery Vase Collection were given to the university in 1983. Gladys Strawn Bullard, Jacocks’ former colleague in the state nutrition program and Vice Chairman of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Board of Trustees, requested a permanent gift of the celery vases for an exhibit in the School of Home Economics.

The vases, along with a commemorative certificate, were presented to UNCG Chancellor William Moran, by UNC Chapel Hill chancellor, Christopher C. Fordham III. An exhibit was created in recognition of the contributions of UNCG alumni in the state’s nutrition program, which was displayed in the entrance of the School of Home Economics, now the Stone Building on College Avenue. In 2011, the collection became part of the University Archives Artifact Collection.
    
This blog was written by Jenay Solomon and Sara Maeve Whisnant

Monday, April 24, 2017

125th Student Researcher Jobs Available!

***Please note that these positions are no longer available.***

Beginning in October 2017, UNCG will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the opening of the institution as the State Normal and Industrial School. In anticipation of this year-long celebration, many departments and units across campus will be researching their organizational histories and using the resources in University Archives to plan and promote their commemorative events. Additionally, the University Archives will be working on numerous events and activities to help promote institutional history. We are currently seeking two student researchers to help with our work on this fun and exciting celebration!

These positions are only open to undergraduate and graduate students who will be enrolled at UNCG during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters. Each student researcher will be expected to work 10-12 hours during the academic year (pay rate is $10 per hour). Preference will be given to students who are able to work the complete academic year (as opposed to just the Fall 2017 semester).

The positions are available to start in either Summer 2017 or Fall 2017. No previous work experience in archives is required (although, that is always a great bonus!), but an interest in UNCG history and a willingness to learn are absolutely necessary.

If you are interested in working as a student researcher in the University Archives during the 125th anniversary celebration, email erlawrim@uncg.edu, including your resume along with a cover letter that addresses why you are interested in the job.