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: 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, including your resume along with a cover letter that addresses why you are interested in the job.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Exhibit in Hodges Reading Room: "Athletics and Active College Work"

A new exhibit titled "Athletics and Active College Work: Women's Fitness and Sport at State Normal, 1892-1920" is now on display in the Hodges Reading Room in Jackson Library. This exhibit explores women's athletics at the turn of the 20th century through the lens of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG).

From its opening in 1892, the State Normal and Industrial School emphasized physical activity and personal health. Curriculum in the first year of the school’s existence (1892-1893) included the Department of Physiology and Heath, which had two objectives: instruction in hygiene and an individualized program of exercise. A course in Physical Culture was required of all students, and all faculty members were expected to be able to give instruction in the subject. The work included gymnastics, calisthenics, and other exercises that were meant to promote the student’s general health and strength. These courses took place in the campus gymnasium, a small room located on the top floor of the northeast section of the Main Building (now Foust).

Students, however, wanted more. In 1898, they petitioned State Normal President Charles Duncan McIver for a designated space for them to participate in team or outdoor sports, including basketball and tennis. The Class of 1900 finally convinced McIver that the school needed both athletic grounds and a campus Athletic Association. He and the school’s Executive Committee ordered that an outdoor playing field be prepared, "surrounded by an evergreen hedge or some other construction to avoid observation from without." Members of the Class of 1900 did most of the work involved in cleaning and preparing the new athletic field, including clearing the area of brush and debris, marking the fields, and installing nets and basketball goals.

Although it received little to no financial support from the school, the State Normal’s Athletic Association grew, electing officers, forming committees, and planning for the long-term upkeep of the fields. Additionally, the organization developed intramural tennis and basketball tournaments, with each class establishing its own team. In 1902, the Association adopted their official motto: "Athletics and Active College Work Go Hand in Hand."

In the "Athletics and Active College Work" exhibit, you will see photographs of the many basketball, field hockey, tennis, and baseball teams that competed in the Athletic Association tournaments and Field Day competitions. Also on exhibit is a gym suit worn by students during this time.

The exhibit will be on display in Hodges Reading Room through August 1st. It is available for viewing during SCUA's normal operating hours (typically Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm).

Monday, April 17, 2017

SCUA is Hiring for Student Employee Positions - Undergraduate and Graduate UNCG Students

 SCUA is currently hiring for the following positions:

Positions Available April 2017

Literary Map - Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Graduate Student Assistant
Greensboro, North Carolina - On-Campus - Non FWS
The Graduate Assistant/s will be working with the Literary Map of North Carolina ( This online map reflects North Carolina’s rich literary heritage and serves as a geographic guide to both famous and little-known writers, of any and all literary genres, who were born here, who moved here, who retired here, who were educated here, or who wrote about the area. The works represented on this map include novels, biographies, historical works, poetry, plays, short stories, children’s books, and young adult literature.

The Graduate Assistant/s will be responsible for researching information concerning North Carolina authors and inputting corresponding names and bibliographical information into the Literary Map of North Carolina database and other related projects.
• Demonstrated research skills
• Knowledge of current web technology
• Superior communication skills
How to apply:  Search SpartanCareers

Oral History Transcriber - Women Veterans Historical Project, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives
Greensboro, North Carolina - On-Campus - Non FWS

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives department within University Libraries is seeking to hire a motivated and resourceful individual to assist in the transcribing, researching, and editing of oral histories. The successful candidate is expected to work 8 hours per week and directly report to the curator of the Women Veterans Historical Project and the Assistant Dean.

Job Description:
Successful candidate will edit, research, and transcribe audio interviews from the department’s Women Veterans Historical Project and University Oral History Collection. These interviews were collected on audio tapes and digital files. The employee will also assist in metadata creation. The focus of this position is to make the oral history collections more accessible to the research community.

Position is available to begin summer 2017.

• Transcribe oral history interviews from audio files (using relevant style guide); (60%)
• conduct research in order to add, clarify, correct historical information; (5%)
• edit transcriptions for accuracy; (25%)
• metadata creation: (5%)
• provide weekly updates to supervisor. (5%)

• must be dependable, adaptable, detail oriented, and able to follow instructions;
• excellent keyboarding skills and good working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and databases;
• good organizational skills and the ability to multi-task;
• ability to work under own initiative and as part of a small team;
• methodical approach, with an eye for detail and ability to concentrate for long periods;
• ability to handle and respect sensitive and confidential information. 
How to apply:  Search SpartanCareers

Positions Available May 2017

Special Collections, Manuscripts, and University Archives [Jackson Library] Student Assistant Position
Greensboro, North Carolina - On-Campus - Non FWS

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives [ ] at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro relies on the skills and energy of its student employees to perform the necessary work in supporting research and learning.

SCUA currently has openings for students interested in working with University Archives and UNCG-related collections. Positions are available beginning summer 2017.

Student will be working on a variety of projects which may involve Special Collections and University Archives. Duties include, but are not limited to:
• assisting in the organization and inventorying of material which includes but is not limited to Women Veterans Collection, rare books, manuscripts, cello music, and/or artifacts
• labeling processed and unprocessed collections
• packing/unpacking archival records, manuscripts, rare books, cello music, and related materials
• completing additional projects as needed

See our collections here:
Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project:

Student must be dependable, adaptable, detail oriented, able to follow complex instructions, work with diverse colleagues, and lift boxes weighing up to 40 lbs. This position will call for repetitive bending and lifting. The successful candidate will have excellent oral, written, and interpersonal skills and familiarity with MS Office software. Library or Archives experiences helpful, but not required. Knowledge of Library of Congress classification system helpful, but training will be provided. Strong interest in archival management, books, the books arts, preservation, history, and violoncello music appreciated and encouraged.
How to apply:  Search SpartanCareers

Positions Available Beginning in August 2017

University Archives and Manuscripts Federal Work Study Student Assistant
Greensboro, North Carolina - Federal Work-Study (FWS)
The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives [ ] at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro relies on the skills and energy of its student employees to perform the necessary work in supporting research and learning.
Student will be working on a variety of projects including, but not limited to, Manuscripts, University Archives, and the Women Veterans Historical Collection. Duties may include processing and writing finding aids for a backlog of small collections, assisting in the re-organization and inventorying of materials, processing, labeling, sleeving historical photographs, editing and creating abstracts for oral history interviews, and completing additional projects as needed.

Student may interact with researchers and be required to answer basic reference questions or direct them to information resources.

MUST HAVE FEDERAL WORK STUDY AS PART OF FINANCIAL AID. Student must be dependable, adaptable, detail oriented, able to follow complex instructions, work with diverse colleagues, and lift boxes weighing up to 40 lbs. This position will call for repetitive bending and lifting. The
successful candidate will have excellent oral, written, and interpersonal skills and familiarity with MS Office software. Library, archives, or museum studies experiences helpful, but not required. Strong interest in preservation and history appreciated and encouraged.
How to apply:  Search SpartanCareers