In 1939, world-renowned etcher Louis Orr embarked on what came to be
a twelve-year undertaking to produce a set of fifty-one etchings of important
North Carolina buildings and sites. Robert Lee Humber, Jr. of Greenville,
North Carolina conceived and financed the documentary project. Humber
and Orr met sometime between the years 1927 or 1928. The two expatriates—Humber,
the younger being about thirty years old, and Orr then fifty—met
while both lived in Paris. They quickly became friends, but Orr’s
acceptance of Humber’s idea took a decade or longer. The resulting
body of work, completed in 1951, was like no other of its kind at the
time. The set of etchings comprises ten “albums” of five prints
each, with the first album issued in 1943. Orr published a larger single
etching of the North Carolina State Capitol Building in 1941. Marking
the sixtieth anniversary of the set’s completion, the NCC Gallery
presents an exhibition of 30 of the etchings, with original drawings,
etching plates, and letters and photographs documenting the project.
Students have organized as long as the University has existed. The earliest
student organizations—the debating and literary societies—date
to the University’s opening in 1795. For much of its history, the
UNC campus was small, secluded, and male. Students looked for activities
to fill spare hours and develop the skills needed for the professional
and leadership positions they would assume after graduation. While some
of the organizations they established were sanctioned by the administration,
many were not. For several decades, faculty members found themselves spending
much of their time trying to restrict the formation of clubs that engaged
in destructive and unruly behavior.
Since 1937, UNC’s archaeology program has sought to discover and present the native history of the North Carolina piedmont region. In 2001, this focus shifted to the old Catawba Nation in South Carolina, where many of the Indian communities of the North Carolina piedmont took refuge after 1710. UNC’s Catawba Archaeological Project now aims to trace these communities forward through time to document the dynamic adaptations that gave rise to the modern Catawba Nation. This exhibition was presented by the North Carolina Collection and the Research Laboratories of Archaeology. Artifacts on view included pottery, beads, ornaments, stone and metal tools, historical maps, travelers’ accounts and archaeological evidence from six village sites excavated in North Carolina and South Carolina. The exhibit also examined the Catawba’s enduring pottery-making tradition, which is unparalleled in the eastern United States.
This exhibition was as much about the photography of poverty—or perhaps more precisely the use of photographs depicting poverty—as the photographs themselves. "The Poor Among Us: Photography of Poverty in North Carolina" coincides with the recent publication of the book, To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America. Governor Terry Sanford established the North Carolina Fund as a private non-profit corporation in July 1963 to operate within a set limit of five years with $9.5 million in grants from private philanthropies. Its goal was “to create the possible” by combating poverty at the community level and promoting new approaches outside of existing government programs. The fund hired writer and photographer Billy E. Barnes as its news director in February 1964. Barnes extensively photographed the activities of the fund and the people it was trying to assist, using the images in publications, promotional literature, displays, presentations, and films. The exhibition features Barnes’s images of the poor in North Carolina as seen through the eyes of an advocate.
The exhibition also included photographs by photojournalists Don Sturkey of the Charlotte Observer and a contemporary of Barnes, and Jerome Friar, who photographed events in two North Carolina towns—Hamlet and Woodland—where Barnes had photographed nearly three decades earlier.
For over two centuries, the “noble trees” of our campus have played a significant role in the life of the University. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni have demonstrated an interest in the preservation of these ornaments of nature since the University’s inception. Trees are thought to have influenced the placement of the first campus buildings, and as early as 1805, someone was hired to trim the trees and act as superintendent of the grounds. In the 1840s a program of campus improvement and landscaping began, and by the 1850s the University was acclaimed in state and national publications for its ornamental grounds and “lofty spreading oaks.”
The woodlands in and around campus remained largely undisturbed in the University’s first century. Beginning in the early twentieth century, campus expansion removed much of the original forest. Whether trees fall due to storms, old age, or construction, their removal is noted and lamented by the campus community. Today, the campus is in the capable hands of a Grounds Department which, along with other University officials and staff, identifies and preserves our historic trees and landmark spaces for future generations. This exhibition presented photographs, drawings, manuscripts, and publications that document campus trees and landscapes from the University's earliest days through the present.
Journalism at Carolina has grown from a humble beginning in 1909 to become one of the largest units on campus and a world leader in journalism-mass communication education. This exhibition chronicled that story, beginning with student work on the Tar Heel in 1893 through courses in the English Department, the Department of Journalism (1924), the School of Journalism (1950), and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (1990).
For the past four decades, the Rogers Road neighborhood in Chapel Hill has often been at the center of a public debate about the impact of the landfill located in their community. The neighborhood has largely been defined in the public eye by this controversy; however, the story of this community began several generations before the placement of the landfill in 1972. Inspired by the book Rogers Road, this exhibition provides an introduction to some of the families who have lived in and shaped this historically significant area from the 1700s to the present.
Through approximately 85 books, pamphlets, maps and photographs, “Cultivating the ‘Great Winter Garden’” documented various attempts by North Carolina state government and businesses to restore agriculture as part of the state’s economy after the Civil War. The exhibition focused primarily on efforts made in the early twentieth century to draw European workers to farming communities in the eastern counties of the state. By the 1910s immigrants had established homes, farms, schools, and churches in communities located in Pender County, New Hanover County, and Columbus County. Highlighted in this exhibition were images of Pender County’s Van Eeden settlement. Originally founded in 1912 as a colony for Dutch immigrants, by the late 1930s Van Eeden had become a refuge for a small number of European Jews during the Holocaust.
The exhibition examined 100 years of political campaigning in North Carolina, focusing on significant elections from 1890 to 1990 and what they reveal about the state’s political history. This exhibition used broadsides, posters, and photographs from the North Carolina Collection to explore the changing nature of campaigning from the nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries. Exhibition highlights included pinback buttons and ribbons from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, as well as several photos and broadsides on loan from the Southern Historical Collection.
In the summer of 1907, the ax-wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation
toured North Carolina and in fiery speeches advocated the adoption of
strict prohibition laws and condemned anyone who either sold or drank
Student cartoons in UNC publications have entertained and informed this campus community for over a hundred years. In the first half of the twentieth century, artists lampooned fellow students in yearbooks and drew cartoons for satirical magazines that amused and sometimes enraged readers and scandalized the school. The Daily Tar Heel did not begin including student-drawn cartoons on its editorial page until the late 1950s. Since then these drawings have regularly provided politically-charged, visual commentary on a wide range of local, national, and foreign issues. Because they reflected personal opinions, such drawings have often led to debate and on occasion active protests. This exhibition featured a fraction of the cartoons produced by UNC students from 1907 to 2006. The works selected provided a glimpse into campus life in past generations and imparted some insight into matters that students over the years have found amusing and worthy of complaint and ridicule.
"A Knight to Remember: The Life and Legacy of Sir Walter Raleigh" featured books, maps, and manuscripts relating to Raleigh's life and times. Items in the exhibition included sixteenth-century travel accounts and maps; a 1570 letter signed by Queen Elizabeth I; and a first edition of Raleigh's History of the World, published in 1614 while Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The exhibition also featured examples of modern postcards, currency, and even tobacco tins that use the iconic explorer's image and name.
Most of the exhibition's content was drawn from the Library's Sir Walter Raleigh Collection. Established in 1940 with an endowment from the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association, the collection contains more than 1,000 books, drawings, and manuscripts pertaining to Raleigh and to the earliest English explorations of North America. Visitors can also see examples of authentic Elizabethan and early Jacobean furniture in the Gallery's Sir Walter Raleigh Rooms, a permanent exhibit which features a 1593 oil portrait of Raleigh, and a life-size wooden statue of him.
The exhibition debunked some persistent myths, such as the notion that Raleigh introduced tobacco to England. While Raleigh popularized smoking as a leisure activity, he did not introduce the plant to his country. Tobacco had already been in use for decades in Europe as a medicinal inhalant for patients suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems.
"A Knight to Remember" complemented an exhibition about the Lost Colony at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The Museum showcased original John White drawings, on loan from the British Museum.
The picture postcard held an important place in early twentieth-century consumer culture. First introduced in the late nineteenth century as a quick and inexpensive way to send greetings, the postcard soon started a collecting craze that lasted through World War I. At a time when newspapers published few photos and few people owned cameras, the images of people, places, and events on picture postcards could be purchased and enjoyed by citizens from all walks of life. The selection of postcards in this exhibition depicted the landscape and people of North Carolina's past. Postcards often illustrated the attractive aspects of life and ignored the unpleasant ones. Today, however, we can learn much from them about the prevailing attitudes and tastes of the society in which they were produced. Many postcards are therefore important historical documents in their own right, often providing the only visual record of a place or event. This exhibition provided only a small sampling of the postcards in the Barbour Collection and gave an overview of what subjects North Carolinians thought "postcard-worthy."
A young, unrecognized Elvis Presley being turned away from the Charlotte Coliseum. The ladies' auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in hoods and robes. Children living in poverty, the public moments of government officials, the grief of ordinary citizens who have lost their jobs, their homes, their loved ones. In nearly forty years as a photojournalist (1952-1989), Don Sturkey captured thousands of Carolina faces. Newspaper photography allowed Sturkey to enter the lives of the rich and famous as well as the poor and obscure, sharing briefly in moments of celebration or despair. Like the rest of the nation, the Carolinas experienced dramatic societal upheavals in the last half of the twentieth century, ranging from civil rights demonstrations and Klan marches to the counter-culture movement and the birth of rock 'n roll. While most of the photos in this exhibition documented transition and the important events taking place, many recalled everyday life in the Carolinas in an earlier time. Regardless of subject, all of Sturkey's photographs demonstrated his philosophy of "capturing emotion first" and making "composition and technique secondary."
In 1997, the North Carolina Collection Gallery at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill presented an exhibition on charts and maps
of this region dating from 1529 to 1775. A new exhibition that opened
in the Gallery on October 19, 2006, complemented that earlier project
and resumed, time-wise, with displays of North Carolina-related maps produced
between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Most of the twenty-eight
selections exhibited in this exhibition were drawn from the North Carolina
Collection's holdings, although nine original maps were on loan from a
private collector, and The Library of Congress provided full-scale copies
of two rare North Carolina maps preserved in its collection. Another extraordinary
reference exhibited from the University Archives was the original plat
that depicts the University of North Carolina's initial campus and the
formation of the town of Chapel Hill. Dating from 1793, this hand-drawn
map depicts the "village's" first surveyed lots and thoroughfares
(Franklin and Columbia streets), as well as the intended construction
sites for the University's first facilities, including the building known
today as "Old East."
The nightime whistle of a distant train is a familiar, comforting sound to many North Carolinians. For some that whistle reminds them of a bygone age, when railways affected their lives and the welfare of their communities on a daily basis. Today, air travel, passenger cars, and long-distant trucking have reduced the public's reliance on railroads, causing many people to forget the profound economic and social contributions made by this mode of transportation. In North Carolina, as elsewhere, railroads connected not only regional markets, it powered growth and prosperity across the state and increasingly linked citizens to points throughout the nation. While railroad building began slowly in North Carolina, by the end of the nineteenth century sixty-five lines operated here.
The year 2006 marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the North Carolina Railroad, one of this state’s very important early railways. This exhibition offered an overview of rail development in this state in the 1800s and introduced visitors to related books, documents, and images in Wilson Library that are available to the general public.
June 22, 2006, marked the semiquincentennial (250th anniversary) of William
R. Davie's birth. A man of diverse talents, Davie served as a lawyer,
cavalry officer in the Revolution, legislator, constitutional delegate,
governor, and United States minister to France. He also introduced the
bill in the state legislature in 1789 to establish the University of North
Carolina and, as one of the school's founding trustees, helped to guide
much of the University's early development.
"Victorian" ideals of womanhood and the home began to take shape during the first half of the nineteenth century. These views held that the outside world was essentially the dominion of males; the world of the home, of females. For women, the "cult of domesticity" that formed in the Victorian Age preached the importance of maintaining piety, purity, and efficiency in the household. Wives, mothers, and daughters were all expected to contribute to their families' domestic welfare, to creating and sustaining cheerful "sanctuaries" from outside evils. Accordingly, what little time women had for leisure on the homefront was usually spent in self-improvement activities. This exhibition examined some of those activities, as well as some of the era's social attitudes that eventually presented new opportunities for women.
To read a related lecture entitled Mother Cotten and Crazy Daisy: North Carolina Women at the turn of the 20th Century, by Anastatia Sims, Professor of History at Georgia Southern University select this link.
What herbal remedies did our ancestors in North Carolina employ to soothe sunburns and indigestion, cure headaches caused by "depressing passions," or kill "Worms of the Belly?" How were leeches properly applied to drain patients of their "bad" blood? What methods did Native Americans and early European colonists use to battle smallpox and yellow fever, two dreaded diseases that were known respectively as the "Speckled Monster" and "Bronze John?" A summer exhibition in the North Carolina Collection Gallery examined these and other questions relating to the treatment of common and not-so-common illnesses in this region in past centuries.
Titled "Sour Stomachs & Galloping Headaches," the exhibition provided Gallery visitors with a general introduction to this state's medical history, focusing predominantly on selections of ailments and diseases treated outside the walls of hospitals and away from the hands of formally trained doctors and nurses. In this broad overview, the exhibition also introduced visitors to the vast array of resources in the University Library that are available to researchers interested in the evolution of public health care. Faith-based healing, urban and rural sanitation, patent medicines, and the mass marketing of modern over-the-counter remedies developed by North Carolinians are highlighted as well. Some of these well-known remedies are Vick's VapoRub; Bromo-Seltzer; Goody's, BC, and Stanback headache powders; and even Pepsi-Cola, which originated in New Bern in the 1890s and was initially marketed as an effective treatment for both "dyspepsia" (indigestion) and chronic fatigue. The Online version of the Exhibit is available at the following link.
On February 23, 2005, the University's newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, celebrated its 112th year, and the status of being the longest continuously running of the University's many student-run publications. Through the years The Daily Tar Heel has attracted widespread attention for both high quality and a policy of editorial freedom. While not so prominent, many other student publications have come and gone during the University's long history. These imprints, whether short-lived or long-standing, have served to a varying extent as platforms for young writers and as training grounds for aspiring editors, photographers, and illustrators. These publications, ranging from humor to religion, also provide a glimpse into life on the UNC campus over generations and reveal the issues that students deemed important. This exhibition highlighted some of these publications, including The Daily Tar Heel and its rival newspaper The White and Blue, yearbooks, literary magazines, and political newsletters. The exhibition focused on the diversity of the student body and different viewpoints expressed over the years by highlighting publications such as Black Ink, the first African American publication at UNC; and by juxtaposing publications such as The Left Heel, a New Left publication of the 1960s, and The Carolina Conservative, which challenged the "fallacious dogmas of the Liberal Left." The exhibition also revealed some of the controversies surrounding various publications, for example, the investigation of The Daily Tar Heel under Charles Kuralt's editorship in the early 1950s, as well as the 1939 scandal caused by the humor magazine The Carolina Buccaneer.
The Online version of the Exhibit is available at the following link.
On October 21, 2004, as part of Wilson's diamond-anniversary celebration, an exhibition devoted to the history of the building opened in the North Carolina Collection Gallery. This exhibition examined Wilson Library's development, highlighting the wide array of public services housed in the facility over more than seven decades. Completed and dedicated in 1929, the library's original sections reflect the skills of New York-born architect Arthur Cleveland Nash, who led or participated in the design and construction of many other structures at the University of North Carolina, including Spencer Dormitory, the Carolina Inn, and Kenan Stadium.
Wilson Library's styling--complete with Roman dome and imposing Corinthian columns--offered Nash an opportunity to express in limestone the visual power of neoclassicism in an era when red brick and colonial revival tastes dominated campus architecture. It should be noted that "The Library" was not officially named in honor of former University Librarian Louis Round Wilson until 1956. Today, the building remains a tribute to Wilson and his distinguished career. Yet, it also stands as a testament to Arthur Nash's capabilities and to the combined intellectual curiosity of the students, faculty, and countless other researchers who have passed through the library's doors.
Thousands of years ago mammoths, ground sloths, and giant camels roamed forests and grasslands that now lie within North Carolina's borders. Only a few centuries ago, buffalo, elk, otters, and colorful parrots were among the abundance of wildlife that could be found here. Unfortunately, the first European explorers and settlers, who marveled at this region's "most pleasant and fertile ground," generally regarded its lush vegetation and array of unusual animals as "merchantable commodities," as inexhaustible assets. It was a view that in a relatively short time resulted in dramatic declines in the numbers of many native species and in the complete eradication or extinction of others due to over hunting and loss of habitats.
Extinction itself is a natural consequence of evolution, but it is a process that has been increasingly misdirected and accelerated by human intervention. "North Carolina: Where the Buffalo Once Roamed," an exhibition in the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Wilson Library, examined the effects of such intervention. Through displays of various imprints and drawings by John White, Mark Catesby, William Bartram, John James Audubon, and other naturalists, the exhibition highlighted some of the state's extinct, endangered, and threatened species, including the eastern woodland buffalo, Carolina parrot, passenger pigeon, American alligator, and Venus's flytrap.
Photographer and book collector Jan Hensley photographed his first writer when he met Eudora Welty in 1988. Shortly thereafter he began a journey across North Carolina to get his personal collection of books signed. When he had room for his camera, Hensley took pictures of North Carolina writers at various author readings and events. Eventually, the camera became an integral part of his “odyssey.” This exhibit portrayed a cross section of North Carolina writers, but represented only a small portion of the many artists in our state. These photographs are not portraits but candid shots focusing on the character in these writers’ faces. In many cases the writers were not even aware they were being photographed, however, in Hensley’s words, the goal has not been “to steal an image but to freeze and share a moment in time.”
"The meat generally stinks and has maggots in it." This unsavory comment was made in a letter written jointly by John and Ebenezer Pettigrew to their father in 1795. The brothers were not soldiers fighting on some distant battlefront or prisoners suffering in a dingy jail cell; they were students at the University of North Carolina. At that time, the newly established school consisted of three small buildings nestled in the woods near "New Hope Chapel." One of those structures was a wooden, two-story dining hall where early students often endured meals of hard biscuits, weak tea, clotted milk, and meager cuts of greasy pork or beef.
By the late 1800s, food service at UNC had improved dramatically, although a significant number of students in Chapel Hill still continued to furnish or make arrangements for their own meals. On occasion they even captured a special dish to supplement their diets. For example, in another letter written by a student in 1897, the enterprising fellow describes inviting classmates to his room one evening to enjoy a supper or "grub-rush" of roasted opossum. Sixteen years later, in 1913, UNC officials opened Swain Hall in an effort to satisfy the appetite of the school's growing enrollment. With a seating capacity for 460 students, the new brick building served as UNC's main dining hall or commons for the next quarter century. Swain Hall was named in memory of one of the university's past presidents, but students soon nicknamed the building "Swine Hall."
Through the use of documents, books, lithographs, and photographs, "The Student's Plate" reviewed the history of food and dining at UNC since 1795, from the Spartan fare of the school's first students to late nineteenth-century eating clubs and today's assortment of cafeterias, cafes, and snack bars. "The Student's Plate" also addressed how complaints about food appear to be a tradition common to many colleges and universities. Yet, if students from generations ago could see the abundance, diversity, cleanliness, and convenience of meals now available on campuses, they would no doubt be astounded.
Capturing on film the diversity of North Carolina's landscape and people has been a lifelong passion for Hugh Morton. This exhibition of his photography provided a small sampling from a body of work that spans more than six decades.
This exhibition was a selection of historical objects or "museum" specimens held by the North Carolina Collection. The preservation and exhibition of such material have a long history on this campus. In addition to books, the University began acquiring museum objects more than two centuries ago. In 1795, the year UNC opened to students, Charles Wilson Harris was one of two teachers who formed the faculty. Harris was also appointed the new school's "Keeper of the Museum". Between 1795 and 1798, when he left UNC, Keeper Harris worked on building a museum, a collection he called "a cabinet of curios." The first item he acquired for the collection was an ostrich egg, which he obtained from a donor in Pitt County, N.C.
As part of the centennial celebration of the William C. Coker Arboretum, the North Carolina Collection Gallery presented “‘All the Charms of Nature’: A History of Landscaping at UNC-Chapel Hill.” This project complemented another exhibition, “The Legacy of a Lifetime Botanist,” which focused specifically on the life and career of UNC Professor Coker. “All the Charms of Nature” placed the arboretum into a historical context by providing an overview of this campus’ development from 1795 to the present. The exhibition in the Gallery featured selections of books, pamphlets, lithographs, maps, and photographs that depict the university’s landscape in various eras. In addition to recognizing some of the architects and other faculty members who have planned the beautification of campus, credit was given to the nameless and faceless laborers—both black and white, enslaved and free—who over the past two centuries have actually laid the stones and brick, moved tons of earth, and planted the trees and flowers that have decorated these grounds.
This exhibition highlighted some of the hundreds of mysteries, myths, and legends that comprise a colorful and fascinating part of the Tar Heel State's history. In addition to re-examining such popular topics as the Lost Colony of Roanoke, Blackbeard the pirate, and the Devil's Tramping Ground, an array of lesser-known stories from North Carolina's coastal, piedmont, and mountain regions were presented. Some included the strange Brown Mountain Lights of Burke County, the ghost of the "Pink Lady" at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, the phantom hitchhiker who once haunted the roadway between Greensboro and High Point, and the unsolved mystery relating to the Carroll A. Deering, a five-masted schooner whose crew disappeared without a trace off the Outer Banks in 1921. Native American mythology, especially that pertaining to the Cherokee, formed another significant part of this exhibition. These included romantic tales about Blowing Rock in Watauga County and the Siren of the French Broad River, as well as stories involving the giant Judaculla in Jackson County and the unexplained petroglyphs or carvings on a large rock there.
Along with related books, manuscripts, illustrations, and maps, audio recordings were also featured in this exhibition. Visitors could hear recordings of "Tom Dooley," "Old Dan Tucker," and other folk songs inspired by North Carolina myths and legends.
THE SPORT OF KINGS' (AND PEASANTS): Horse Racing in North Carolina Before the Civil War of the 19th Century
Long before the state of Kentucky gained its prominence in breeding and racing horses, even decades before Kentucky existed as a state (1792), North Carolina was home to some of America's finest stables and thoroughbreds. This exhibition traced North Carolina's equine past through related books, pamphlets, newspapers, and lithographs of great racers such as "Sir Archie," a champion quarter horse who spent most of his long life in North Carolina and whose descendants include "Man O' War," "Native Dancer," and "Secretariat." One of Sir Archie's North Carolina sons, "Henry," was the horse that represented the South in the famous 1823 race in New York against the northern horse "Eclipse." That contest, which drew 60,000 spectators (a number larger than the entire population of New York City at the time), is generally viewed by historians as the greatest sporting event in the United States in the nineteenth century.
Also displayed in this exhibition were North Carolina maps that depict elaborate race tracks in New Bern and Hillsborough as early as the 1760s. Straight quarter-mile racing, early oval-track competitions, harness racing, and steeplechasing are all represented. Other exhibited items included race tickets or "cards" from the 1820s and 1830s, a period racing scarf commemorating the Henry-Eclipse race, and a rare 1833 edition of the first stud book on horses printed in the United States. While the focus of the exhibition was on racing before the Civil War, aspects of the sport and the status of North Carolina's "horse industry" in the late 1800s and 1900s were examined as well. Related texts were complemented by displays of modern jockey's silks, goggles, lightweight aluminum-alloy horseshoes, and additional pieces of racing equipment used today.
'OVER THERE' IN THE GREAT WAR: William B. Umstead & World War I
While World War II has received significant media attention in recent years, the events and historical significance of World War I have been largely forgotten or ignored by the general public. This exhibition drew attention to this less-publicized European conflict. Although the United States' direct military involvement in World War I was relatively brief, that involvement resulted in the deaths of over 116,000 Americans, including more than 2,300 North Carolinians. The experiences of one North Carolina soldier were recounted in this exhibition in order to provide a personal perspective on the "Great War." That North Carolinian was William B. Umstead, a native of Durham County, who decades after his military service would be elected governor of the state.
William Umstead entered the United States Army in 1917, soon after his graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For two years he served as a lieutenant in the 81st "Wildcat" Division, which comprised a portion of the two million American troops who were transported overseas during the war. Using selections from the William B. Umstead Collection-including military gear, letters and diaries, and personal effects-the exhibition traced the young lieutenant's journey from his home to the battlefront in France, near Verdun. Umstead's post-war political career and his election to North Carolina's governorship were also recounted. Tragically, his service as the state's chief executive would be brief, for he died in office in 1954. Now, nearly a half century after his death, Governor Umstead's World War I artifacts and documents are being publicly exhibited together for the first time. These items, along with other material, were donated to the North Carolina Collection in 1995 by his daughter, Merle Umstead Richey. To see some of the artifacts featured in this exhibition and for researchers who are interested in the "Great War," please refer to the university's huge on-line resource Documenting the American South.
The year 2000 marked the centennial of Thomas Wolfe's birth. This exhibition was one of many statewide celebrations that recognized the literary accomplishments of the Asheville native. Wolfe's experiences in Chapel Hill and his education at the University of North Carolina had profound effects on him personally and on the course of his writing. Wolfe's first novel and his most highly acclaimed, Look Homeward, Angel, was published in 1929. A thinly veiled autobiographical work, much of the novel recounts Wolfe's time at the University from 1916 to 1920. In the nine years that Wolfe lived after the release of Look Homeward, Angel, the author often spoke wistfully of returning to his alma mater. Only once, in 1937—the year before his death—was he able to return to Chapel Hill and relive its special “magic.” The exhibition presented original letters and other items that traced Wolfe’s boyhood and his student life at UNC, concentrating on some of the experiences in Chapel Hill and on people at the university who influenced his writing and shaped his literary career.
LAWSON'S LEGACY: Nature Writing in North Carolina, 1701-2001
In the fall, 2001, the North Carolina Collection sponsored a conference and exhibition that celebrated the 300th anniversary of Englishman John Lawson's remarkable 550-mile exploratory journey through the Carolinas backcountry in 1700-1701. Over the course of his journey, Lawson kept a detailed journal of his observations, which he combined with a separately written natural history of Carolina and published as A New Voyage to Carolina (1709). This was the first major attempt to describe the "New World's" natural history.
In addition to commemorating Lawson's journey, the conference and exhibition reviewed North Carolina's long tradition of "nature writing." The first day of the conference was devoted to an examination of natural history and nature writing significant in North Carolina's past. On the second day, current Tar Heel nature and outdoors writers presented examples of their work. After the final lectures, an exhibition of notable natural history books and other materials were unveiled in the North Carolina Collection Gallery's exhibition, "Lawson's Legacy: North Carolina and Nature Writing, 1701-2001." This project featured rare first-edition volumes, maps, illustrations, and other artifacts that traced three centuries of study about North Carolina's natural environment and this state's indigenous plant and animals. Illustrations of related subjects produced by Mark Catesby, John and William Bartram, Alexander Wilson, John James Audubon, and works by North Carolina naturalists were exhibited. Below are examples of the types of material presented in the exhibition:
ANDY GRIFFITH: Chapel Hill to Mayberry and Beyond
In the summer of 2001, the North Carolina Collection Gallery presented a biographical exhibition that reviewed the life and career of entertainer Andy Griffith. This project featured many artifacts, publications, audio recordings and photographic images relating to Griffith's childhood, to his years as a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, and his stint as an actor in the outdoor drama The Lost Colony and during his early years on Broadway and in Hollywood. Most of the items displayed in the exhibition were drawn from the North Carolina Collection's holdings, although several artifacts were borrowed from other repositories and from a noted private collector of Griffith memorabilia, Emmett Forrest of Mount Airy, N.C. Many of the images displayed in the Gallery were copied from the Andy Griffith Papers in the university library's Southern Historical Collection. On display as well was an original script from a 1967 episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." This was also borrowed from the Southern Historical Collection's Elizabeth MacRae Papers. Ms. MacRae performed the role of Lou Ann Poovie in "Gomer Pyle, USMC," the popular spin-off comedy with Jim Nabors from Griffith's television series. Special programming was also offered during the term of this exhibition. The most significant was a presentation by Neal Brower, instructor in the N.C. Community College System and author of Mayberry 101: Behind the Scenes of a TV Classic. Mr. Brower used video footage from several of Griffith's television appearances and from "The Andy Griffith Show" to examine the structure and content of this classic, character-driven comedy.
HARD CASH & HARD TIMES: A History of North Carolina Currency
This exhibition reviewed the impact of money on this state's history and featured coins and paper currencies produced by or for North Carolina from the early 1700s until the beginning of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. It was not until after the Civil War that our nation's monetary supply began to centralize and stabilize under the authority of the federal government. Prior to that time, North Carolina and other states had to rely largely on the uncertain paper moneys issued by their own public officials, by local banks, insurance companies, and even by private individuals. In "Hard Cash & Hard Times" over 150 pieces of historic currency and trade items were displayed, including examples of Native American wampum (roanoke and peak), colonial bills, "broken bank" notes, Bechtler gold coins, Civil War issues, and national bank notes. Most of coins and other "antique" currencies were drawn from the North Carolina Collection's holdings. Seventeen specimens, however, were borrowed from the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Displays of all of this currency were supplemented by selections of currency-related books, period newspaper accounts, and by other imprints from the North Carolina Collection. Special programming included presentations by Dr. Richard Doty, curator of numismatics at the Smithsonian Institutions, and other noted currency experts.
THIS LANDE . . . STRETCHING IT SELFE TO THE WEST: Early Maps of North Carolina and the Southeast, 1529-1775
This exhibition featured a selection of over thirty maps that depict the region in and around North Carolina from the time of these lands’ exploration by Europeans to the beginning of the American Revolution. In concert, the exhibited maps underscored the skills and genius of early cartographers, especially those of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who with only scraps of geographical information and relying on rudimentary measuring devices produce maps of extraordinary beauty and often with remarkable precision. This exhibition also demonstrated that mistakes and misconceptions about North America’s true form and size were common on the first depictions of the continent. Nevertheless, over a relatively short span of time, Spanish, Dutch, French, and English cartographers methodically pieced together the travel accounts and fragmented observations of their fellow Europeans and produced many detailed, reliable maps. Original maps presented in this exhibition were obtained from the North Carolina Collection, Davidson College, East Carolina University, and Duke University. Due to the rarity and delicate condition of some other maps from this period, it was necessary to display high-resolution facsimiles provided by The British Library, The New York Public Library, The John Carter Brown Library, and The Vatican.