Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Fighting for LGBTQ Rights: The 1991 Cracker Barrel Protests

In February 1991, Cracker Barrel, a southern country food restaurant, announced a policy that discriminated against current and future employees based upon their sexual preferences. The new hiring practice banned people “whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values which have been the foundation of families in our society.” As a result, several employees in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina lost their jobs. One person’s separation notice said, “This employee is being terminated due to violation of company policy. The employee is gay” (Morris, Mar. 91).

The public’s response to Cracker Barrel’s choice to judge workers by sexual norms rather than character was not well received and political protests began flaring up in the southeast. After several more firings of gay employees, the company decided to rescind the policy and expressed a commitment to non-discrimination in the workplace.

However, this policy change was not enough to assuage some individuals as there was still no federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination based upon sexual orientation. The lack of laws preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation spurred some citizens into organized action. In December 1991, a diverse group of people known as the Triad Coalition to Boycott Cracker Barrel collectively gathered to voice their anger of this injustice in front of the local Cracker Barrel. They carried signs out in front of the store to alert passersby and patrons alike of the franchise’s faults. They read, “Cracker Barrel Now Firing,” “Federal Protections Now,” and “Waiter, There’s a Bigot in My Biscuit.” Some customers wanted to know more, others shot obscene gestures, and some took their business elsewhere.

This demonstration would not be the only one as another LGBTQ rights association known as the Guilford Alliance for Gay & Lesbian Equality (GAGLE) also organized a Cracker Barrel protest several months earlier in March 1991. According to their mission statement, the group “is a grassroots organization of gay men, lesbians, and allies committed to the complete political, legal, economic, and social equality of all people, regardless of their sexuality. We are fighting the discrimination that faces gay and lesbian citizens and threatens the rights of every citizen. Black and white. Young and old. Female and male. The Guilford Alliance is people who care about human dignity -- people like you.”

A flyer found in the Marnie Thompson Papers series in the Martha Hodges Special Collections and University Archives shows the considerable care and planning by GAGLE which contributed to the protest’s success. Along with providing basic information like than the where, when, and why, the document addressed the specifics of the plan: identifying GAGLE leaders with stickers, so protesters know who to turn to for help; instructing to eat a small amount, but to make sure protesters treat and tip their servers well, for they harbor no ill will towards Cracker Barrel’s employees; recommending to wear one’s Sunday best mirrors the meaning of Civil Rights protesters wearing their finest to convey the righteousness of their actions; guidelines on how to pay and conduct oneself with the manager illustrates the protesters’ exemplifying gracious and deserving customers, which contributes to the stressed declaration that the protest is “NON-VIOLENT” and “LEGAL.”

Indeed, this flyer serves as an artifact for times of age-old oppression being met with community opposition. A point on the timeline that gives context to the history experienced today.

Written by Shelbi Webb 

Monday, September 28, 2020

UNCG Special Collections & University Archives Receives Collection of Violoncello Society of New York

The Violoncello Society of New York is very pleased to announce the donation of its extensive archive to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Included in the VCS archive are additional materials from the American Cello Council dating back to the 1930’s. VCS President, Kate Dillingham states, “It is a wonderful moment in the society’s history for the archive to have a permanent home. Our long legacy of cello playing and musical culture in the United States is now available for cellists and cello enthusiasts throughout the world to experience through photographs, documents, programs, and memorabilia. I look forward to working with Stacey Krim to feature items of interest from the archive for all to enjoy.”

It is the mission of the Violoncello Society of New York (VCS) to promote the art of cello playing in the United States, provide a common meeting ground for professional and amateur cellists, promote interest in the cello as a solo instrument, provide opportunity of performances for artist and composer, develop a broader and more mature understanding of the art of the cello, and further the members’ artistic development. VCS organizes and hosts events that enrich the community and advance the art of cello playing. Among the membership, past and present, is some of the greatest cello-talent in the United States and worldwide. The collection includes the business papers of the society, correspondence, and recordings dating back to the organization’s founding in 1956. The collection is now part of the UNCG Cello Music Collection, which is dedicated to acquiring, preserving, and making accessible cello music collections for research and learning. The UNCG Cello Music Collection contains the archives of two past presidents of the society, János Scholz and Bernard Greenhouse, and past vice-president, Nicholas Anderson. The VCS is now open to researchers by appointment for the 2020 Fall semester. If you are interested in accessing this collection or learning more about the UNCG Cello Music Collection, please contact Stacey Krim (

Thursday, May 7, 2020

New Digital Exhibit Curated by Natalie Branson (M.A. in History with a concentration in Museum Studies)

Natalie Branson, a second-year graduate student working on an M.A. in History with a concentration in Museum Studies, researched and developed an online exhibit focused on the work of the Women's Association for the Betterment of Public Schoolhouses, an organization of women advocating for public education in North Carolina in the first quarter of the 20th century.

You can see Natalie's wonderful exhibit here: We also asked Natalie to write a reflection of her time working on this project. You can find that reflection below.

Natalie's work is reflective of the outstanding caliber of students we have at UNC Greensboro. She demonstrated curiosity, self-motivation, and determination - even when the COVID-19 pandemic make everything more chaotic. We in SCUA are always excited for the opportunity to work with our undergraduate and graduate students and to guide them in their research and learning. We thank Natalie for her excellent work this semester!


A Reflection on My Capstone Experience 
by Natalie Branson, M.A. in History with concentration in Museum Studies Candidate, 2020

My capstone project has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Creating my exhibit with the University Archives has allowed me to take control of a project, from start to finish, for the first time as a public historian. I was empowered to tackle challenges on my own, to determine the narrative that I wanted to tell, and to design the exhibit around what I found to be important. When I began this project in August of 2019, I had never worked in an archive, digitized materials, or created a digital exhibit. Now, in April of 2020, I have gained new skills and experience in archival work, curation, and content creation.

When I met with Erin in August, I was handed the Women’s Betterment Association Collection from the University Archives and given the instructions to create a digital exhibit for the University’s website. The original plan for my exhibit was to tell the story of the Women’s Association for the Betterment of Public Schoolhouses (WABPS), the subject and source of the collection I was digitizing. It was my understanding that the WABPS were an organization created by and for women who were interested in improving the state of public education in North Carolina. As I continued searching through the documents from the WABPS, I found that the organization was nothing like I had expected. This ultimately changed the course of my exhibit, as I continued to discover new and conflicting information. To begin, the reach of the WABPS was far beyond what I had presumed. The original 200 women who began the WABPS in Greensboro quickly disseminated into nearly 100 Local and County Associations, with over 1,000 members, spread across North Carolina. In addition, I found the organization to be more radical that I expected, in that they allowed men to pay to be involved in the WABPS but their “honorary” membership afforded them no vote in the Association’s elections and no say in the purpose or direction of the WABPS. Sue Hollowell, the president of the State Association in Greensboro, at one point quipped about the men’s “honorary” membership, “taxation without representation, if you please.” While they were radical in some regards, they were more predictable in others.

The WABPS operated between 1902 and 1918, in the heart of the Jim Crow South. While I worked to craft the narrative of my exhibit, I grappled with interpreting the implicit prejudice in the Association’s documents. I learned early on that the organization was exclusive to white women (and later white men), as it was stated explicitly in the WABPS Constitution. I was content, at that point, to make that fact clear in the exhibit and move on; however, as I continued through the documents, the narrative continued to become more complicated. I could find no official documents from the Association that stated explicitly that the WABPS excluded black schools from their work, as I had originally assumed. More often than not, their language was vague, using phrases such as “all of God’s children” and “every child” to describe those affected by their work. By December, I was once again ready to write off their language as having implicit prejudice; I had no evidence that the WABPS worked with or for black children.

 When I returned to the archives after winter break, I found reports from the presidents of several County Associations which I hadn’t seen before. Mary Taylor Moore, the recording secretary for the State Association in Greensboro, created them to have a better understanding of the work that the County Associations were doing. The question that intrigued me the most asked, “How many schools in your county have been affected by the work of the Association?” In many cases, the response was just a number: “nine” or “two.” However, some responses were more specific. Some responders used the qualifier “white” to describe the schools affected, but a few responded that “colored” schools in their county had been affected by the Association’s work as well. This was surprising to me, as it was the first time that I had evidence of “Betterment work” in black schools.

After this discovery, I added two new pages to my digital exhibit: “Race and Education” and “Gender in the Progressive Era.” The former expanded the discussion (raised on the first page) on North Carolina Governor Charles Aycock and his racist education policies at the turn of the century. It also introduced the organization’s complicated relationship with race and the difficulties of interpreting historical documents. The latter page, “Gender in the Progressive Era,” addressed the question: how radical were they really? The women certainly had progressive methods of running their organization, but their original goal of “beautifying” school houses and grounds seemed superficial, fitting within the traditional gender roles prescribed to them. The women were challenging the male-dominated sphere of public school administration but they subscribed to contemporaneous notions about class and race.

When the text was written and the photos, documents, and metadata were entered into Omeka, my digital exhibit finally came together. Luckily, Erin Lawrimore (my supervisor and University Archivist) and I had decided to front-load my work for this semester so the project was wrapping up just as COVID-19 shut everything down.

This process has taught me a great deal about public history. Most importantly, I have come to trust my own instincts and accept not having an answer. In the past, I have mulled over a problem and tried my best to solve it despite knowing that there was no good solution. Rather than accept that and move on, I would find a way to avoid addressing the problem altogether. After my capstone experience, I have found a new appreciation for accepting that I don’t have all the answers; I only have what is presented to me. It is not my place to decide what the women of the WABPS were thinking or what they meant in their documents, I can only disseminate that information within the social and political context that I understand.

As I reflect on my work over the last eight months, I believe that nothing summarizes it better than the evolution of my project title. In September, I titled my project, “The Women’s Betterment Association: A Digital Exploration of a Radical Group of Women.” The exhibit was going to present the radical and inspiring story of the WABPS; how the “Betterment workers” of North Carolina challenged the status quo. When I presented at the Digital Humanities Collaborative Institute in March, however, I titled my project, “A Complicated Group of Women: A Digital Exploration of the Women’s Association for the Betterment of Public Schoolhouses.” My exhibit now tells the story of the incredible work that these women did, the lengths they went to in order to achieve their goals, and the standard they set for public schools in North Carolina. It also tells the story of a racist and elitist governor, the poor state of North Carolina’s public schools at the turn of the century, and how segregation and systemic oppression left black students behind. The women of the WABPS were not radical, but they were not conservative: they were complicated, and I had to accept that. I accepted that I did not know the extent to which they were involved in improving black schools or the extent to which they embraced the (white) feminist movement. The narrative of my exhibit changed between September and April, but only for the better. I challenged myself with new questions to try to answer and a new story to tell the public, and I am incredibly grateful to have experienced this process.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Legendary Cellist's Archive Added to UNC Greensboro Cello Music Collection

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives is pleased to announce the donation of the collection of the legendary cellist, János Starker. Starker is among the most acclaimed cellists of the 20th century. Born in Budapest in 1924, Starker was considered a child prodigy. After World War II, during which he spent three months in a Nazi internment camp, Starker left Hungary to compete and perform throughout Europe, eventually emigrating to the United States in 1948. Once in the US, Starker became principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (1948-1949), principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (1949-1953), and principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1953-1958). As a soloist, Starker performed in over 5000 concerts. He was a trend setter as a classical recording artist, with over 150 recordings. In 1997, he was awarded a Grammy for his recording of the Bach Suites for Solo Cello on the RCA Victor Red Seal. To this day, Starker is considered to be among the most authoritative interpreters of Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello. In addition to his fame as a performer, János Starker was also a beloved teacher. In 1958, he was appointed Professor of Cello at Indiana University at Bloomington.

The János Starker Musical Score and Personal Papers Collection, generously donated by his estate, includes personal papers, writings, photographs, sheet music, and recordings among its many treasures. The staff of the UNC Greensboro Cello Music Collection are prioritizing the processing of the Starker Collection and are planning to digitize as much of the material as is copyright-allowable. The collection is open for access to the public during UNC Greensboro Special Collection & University Archives regular working hours, between 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. To facilitate your visit or if you have any questions, please contact the curator of the collection, Stacey Krim, at or 336.334.5498.

The Cello Music Collections at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is dedicated to acquiring, preserving, and making accessible cello music collections for research and learning. The archive contains sheet music (manuscript and published), monographs, audio-video recordings, personal papers, and artifacts associated with cellists noted for their distinguished contributions in the areas of composition, performance, pedagogy, and research.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Curtain's Up! The Carolina Theatre Records Come to Special Collections and University Archives

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives is thrilled to announce that we are now the home to the Carolina Theatre of Greensboro’s historic materials. A donation to our Manuscript collections, the Carolina Theatre’s materials include programs, marketing materials, slides, photographs, artifacts, and digital records.

The Carolina Theatre has been an important cultural and business icon in downtown Greensboro since 1927. The Carolina Theatre’s records will provide an amazing perspective on the history of downtown Greensboro, performing arts, film, and local business for students, faculty, researchers, and the general public.
Carolina Theatre, circa 1927.

As part of the ongoing relationship between Special Collections and the Carolina Theatre, Special Collections will continue to receive materials from the theatre to ensure a continuous record of their operations and impact on the Greensboro and the Triad.

Carolina Theatre sketch, 1982.
We hope to begin processing the collection soon and will provide more updates as the collection is arranged, described, and digitized! Look for updates about the collection on this blog and our social media platforms.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Forgotten Composers, a Cello Music Recital Featuring Yuriy Leonovich

The Cello Music Collection of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives is home to the largest archival holding of cello music-related material in the world, including some of the world’s great cellists. It is the mission of the archive to preserve and make accessible manuscript and annotated sheet music and waiting for it to be musically resurrected through the hands of a musician. On Thursday, October 3rd, Special Collections and University Archives will be hosting a cellist who has accepted the challenge of reviving three compositions, two of which have not been publicly performed in the 21st century.

Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, cellist, composer, and arranger Yuriy Leonovich immigrated to the United States with his family. His teachers include cellists Stephen Geber and Robert DeMaine, and composer James Hartway. Leonovich earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Music. His compositions and arrangements have been played in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia/Oceania. His music, including the Rusalka Fantasie, has been recorded on the Five/Four Productions label. Leonovich holds the Assistant Cello Professor position at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.

As a scholar and performer, Leonovich is a frequent researcher and visitor to the UNCG Cello Music Collection. It is out of this relationship that Leonovich and the curator of the collection, Stacey Krim, were inspired to offer a program open to the public, featuring some of the rarely performed music in the collection. In preparing for the October recital, Krim interviewed Leonovich, asking about his research and the uniqueness of the upcoming program.

Krim: Can you speak to the value of archival research for performers?

Leonovich: I am biased because libraries have been my second home for the last 23 years. Archives are often seen as a place for the elite scholars. Most performers love to have the reader's digest version of information handed to them. Their motto is, "just tell me what to play." Hundreds of thousands of musicians are sitting in orchestras and ensembles of all types, waiting for their conductor or leader to tell them what to play and how to play it. Most of these performers wouldn't know what to do with an archive.

Stacey Krim is unique in that she actively promotes the UNCG Archive, showing performers, students, and teachers the need to dig deeper. An archive is an invaluable window into the past. I think it's important for musicians to make informed decisions based on their own findings without the middleman. Middlemen tend to use condescension and peer pressure, speaking about certain scholars at certain popular music publishers. Find an archive near you in an area that interests you, and set up a time to talk to the curator. Even then, you will learn something great.

Krim: You have chosen to perform what some would consider an unconventional selection of music for this performance. What made you choose these pieces in particular?

Leonovich: Yagling was a no-brainer for me; I love Soviet music and remember hearing the finale of the Yagling Suite performed by Antonio Meneses on a Tchaikovsky Competition LP from 1982. With regards to the other two composers, Fitelberg and Jemnitz, I had never heard of them before. Once I saw the manuscripts, I found something pleasing about how they were written, the penmanship. These pieces have been very challenging to learn, but the sonic result has been very rewarding.

Krim: Do you have any additional plans for the music and composers you have selected beyond this performance?

Leonovich: I hope to give multiple performances of these works. In the case of Jemnitz, I am involved in a major research project and I made a studio recording of this sonata. I did a smaller research project on Fitelberg and recorded his sonata, now available on my website for download. I see myself digging more into Fitelberg in the future. I will definitely play and record Yagling, but have not researched her life too much yet. Yagling died only 8 years ago.

Krim: Why do performers seem to avoid 20th and 21st century composers?

Leonovich: One of the reasons musicians avoid modern and contemporary music is because they don't understand contemporary art. This is true across the fine and visual arts. There is often a knee-jerk reaction against the current and a tendency to embrace the classic. Within that group of people, there will be a majority that also enjoys the popular. When we talk about composers, we immediately think of "high art music." On the other side you have the contemporary pop music, which speaks more in laymen's terms and is music easier to understand. ...think of an art gallery vs. phone pictures on social media. Both art and popular music reflect the times in different ways. Often art music is more difficult to understand, thus, more difficult to sell to an audience.

Copyright laws play a big role in why performers intentionally and unintentionally avoid music from the last 100 years. Not to go into details, but publishers are currently the gatekeepers of music, and once the composer dies or the publisher goes out of business, the music also dies. The copyright law helps that music stay dead in some cases for 150 years. Because of self publishing, it's becoming easier to access new music.

I can say with confidence that all three pieces on this program have been dead for a long time. The version of Jemnitz I am playing has not been heard since 1933. The Fitelberg was most likely last performed in 1946.

If you are a interested in learning more about Leonovich and these compositions, or are a fan of cello music, please join us for Forgotten Composers, a Cello Music Recital Featuring Yuriy Leonovich, Thursday, October 3, 4:00 pm-5:30 pm in the Hodges Reading Room, 2nd Floor Main Building, W.C. Jackson Library. The event is free and open to the public.


Cello Sonata (1945), Jerzy Fitelberg

Cello Sonata, Op. 31, (1931, rev. 1933) Sándor Jemnitz

Suite for Violoncello Solo No. 1 (1982), Victoria Yagling

If there are any questions relating to this event, please contact Stacey Krim at 336.334.5498 or

Monday, August 19, 2019

New Exhibit Shines Flashbulb on Arnold Doren, Photographer and UNC Greensboro Professor

A new exhibit on the first floor of Jackson Library shines a spotlight on American and international lives during Woodstock, the Sturgis motorcycle rally, the Greensboro Massacre, and street and landscape scenes from Beijing.

Arnold Doren, undated.
Located in the three exhibit cases by the reference desk on the first floor, the exhibit is created using reproductions from the Arnold Doren Papers. The Doren Papers includes photographs, slides, negatives, and digital photographs from Doren’s long career as a photographer. The collection also contains Doren’s personal papers, including some of his teaching materials. The collection’s materials date from the late 1960s to the early 2000s. The materials on display are a small sample of some of Doren’s photographs, showing the range of subjects he captured during his long career.

Arnold T. Doren (1935-2003) was born on July 29, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, to Hy and Rose Dorenfield. Doren eventually changed his name from Dorenfield to Doren.

Doren’s interest in photography began when he was a teenager, photographing local life and high school athletics. Doren went on to serve in the Korean War as a Navy journalist in the Public Information Office. After his time in the military, he attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received his Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. While at RIT, Doren studied photography under famous photographers Minor White and Ralph Hattersley.

Doren discovered his passion for art photography while working in New York City as an assistant to photographers Irwin Blumenthal, Irving Penn, and Alan Vogel. His work in New York him to travel both in the United States and internationally. Doren’s photography often focused on documenting people – he photographed portraits, major social events, or everyday life in towns and cities.

Crowd at the Woodstock Festival, 1969.
His travels eventually led him to a commune in Woodstock, leading to his famous photographs of the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix’s closing performance. A major piece of the exhibit, the Woodstock photographs were selected to mark the festival's 50th anniversary in 2019.

Doren spent a significant amount of time traveling across the country photographing his series of “Americana Faces.” This series included photographs of Native Americans, various roadside cultures, and individuals across the country. A Greensboro Daily News article in 1979 suggested that “the photographs in this series all could have been taken 40-50 years ago.” Doren strived to capture a historical America by photographing its people, scenery, and cultures.

In 1978, Doren joined the faculty of UNC Greensboro as an assistance professor of photography. In 1984, he became an associate professor of photography in the Art Department. He continued to travel and photograph lifestyles, including people and events in Greensboro. In 1998, Doren received a Fullbright-Hayes grant, which allowed him to travel across China to photograph the country and its people.

New Internationally recognized, Doren’s photography has been displayed in galleries across the world. Doren remained at UNC Greensboro until his retirement in 2002. In 2003, Doren passed away in his home. Special Collections and University Archives received the collection in 2009.

Visit Special Collections and University Archives at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Reading Room on the second floor of Jackson Library if you want to learn more!