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Jul 22 2011

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

Contributed by Josh Hager

"The Dagger Dropped Gleaming Upon the Sable Carpet," by Harry Clarke, 1919

On Historically Stated, we often highlight our one-of-a-kind manuscript collections and the most interesting finds in the University Archives.  We encourage all readers to visit Historical State to explore our digitized collections.  We also encourage you to visit our Collection Guides to see what you could examine in a future research visit.  Yet our collections are not limited to the manuscripts and photographs you would find in the above collections.  We also have many rare books that are available for research.  Search for our rare books in the same way that you would search for any other book at D.H. Hill Library by using the Online Catalog.  Select an advanced search and limit the location of the item to Special Collections (D.H. Hill).  All of your results will be rare books in our collection.

Our rare books cover topics from across all academic disciplines.  A lot of the most often used books come from fields that are also strongly represented in our manuscript collections, such as design, entomology, and architecture.   Some of our other rare books are first or difficult-to-find editions of works by prominent authors such as Henry David Thoreau, Rudyard Kipling, and Mark Twain, just to name a few examples.

To highlight one book in particular, the Special Collections Research Center holds a specially-compiled volume of Edgar Allan Poe’s prose works entitled Tales of Mystery and Imagination.   Unfortunately, our copy is not a first edition, as George G. Harrap & Co. published it in London in 1919.  Yet this particular volume of Poe’s works is most notable for its unique illustrations by Irish artist Harry Clarke.  In each of his drawings, Clarke borrowed from his style of staining glass to create images that are at once Gothic in atmosphere, rich in texture, and terrifying in detail.  Clarke’s images convey the visceral nature of Poe’s most famous works such as The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Tell-Tale Heart.  This image is just one example from the work, but it illustrates the depth of Clarke’s portrayal of Poe’s classic tales.  We encourage any interested researcher to come and use our rare books in person in order to encounter your own “tales of mystery and imagination.”

Please visit us at http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections

Jul 22 2011

The YMCA Building and Danforth Chapel

King Religious Center (YMCA), Front Entrance

King Religious Center (YMCA), Front Entrance

contributed by Rachel McCall/ Jennifer Baker.

In the fall of 1889 a branch of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) was established on campus to help “people to live more effective Christian lives.” The YMCA building was built from 1912-1913, renovated in the 1950s, and demolished in 1975 to make way for an addition to the College of Design. The YMCA played an integral role in the development of the University as a source for building student relationships. The YMCA planned retreats, picnics, and socials for students. It hosted academic lectures, funded clubs like the international relations club, and held community service projects.

The YMCA also collaborated with the school to do many things that we now think of as the responsibility of the university. In the 1920s The YMCA and the Student Government published a State College Handbook, met freshman at the trains to help them get settled into the college, offered employment to students, opened a telegraph office for students to receive and call others for free, and was an information Bureau for people visiting the campus.

Since the YMCA was so active on campus a lot of the annual reports and letters contain information on past NC State Students. The annual reports tell of social events and committee members. There are letters sent out to old members asking about their current life so the groups could stay in touch. If you have family members that attended NC State you may find letters from them and their friends.

Interior View of Danforth Chapel, YMCA Building, 1956

Interior View of Danforth Chapel, YMCA Building, 1956

The collection also contains information on the Danforth Chapel. Named for a generous donor who died before completion of the chapel, Danforth Chapel  was a Methodist Church where  students and community members were married by clergy employed by the YMCA. Information on individual ceremonies, including who provided flowers and receptions for the weddings, the names of the participants, and who officiated at the ceremonies are all part of the records of the Danforth Chapel.

For more information about the YMCA on campus, the Danforth Chapel, or any of the other past religious organizations on campus, please visit the Special Collections Research Center online at http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections.

For more images like the one above, please visit Historical State at http://historicalstate.lib.ncsu.edu

Jul 19 2011

Making an Unexpected Discovery

NC State 4-H Club delegation (including L.R. Harrill far left) being recognized for their contribution to the war effort at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 1943

Contributed by Josh Hager

Archivists are not immune to the excitement of finding an unanticipated item in a collection requested for another use entirely.  Recently a patron in the SCRC conducted research on Frances MacGregor Wall, the State Director of 4-H from 1937 until 1945.  Wall was a fascinating leader in her own right.  Her personal papers http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/findingaids/mc00329, especially her correspondence with John Wall during their courtship, are well worth more research and historical attention.

However, what stood out amongst the interesting 4-H and family records in Frances Wall’s papers was a stamp ration book from World War II (Box 18, Folder 4).  Printed in 1943 under the regulation of the Office of Price Administration, this ration book owned by John Wall was necessary for obtaining sugar, meat, fuel, and other  items that experienced supply shortages due to the war, http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/188.html#188.9.5 . While finding a World War II ration book in the 1940s papers of any family should not come as too much of a surprise, it was an unexpected find considering the collection’s primary focus on the affairs of 4-H and its State Extension program.   Interacting with the ration book gives one a sense of life on the home front in 1943,  where  individuals saved excess fats and metals to be repurposed for munitions.  Buying rations was both mandatory and patriotic. Even the instructions in the ration book speak to the mentality of the war effort—what stands out most is the directive, “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”

While John Wall’s ration book is not technically a manuscript, it is a textual artifact that belongs in our manuscript collections.  Amidst a collection on an entirely different (yet still equally engaging) topic, the ration stamps are a great find.   Wall’s ration book proves the old archivist’s slogan that you never know what you will find when you look into a collection.  We encourage you to visit and try to find some hidden gems yourself.

For more information on the NCSU Special Collections Research Center, please visit http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/

Jul 07 2011

A Presidential Hootenanny: Lyndon B. Johnson Visits NC State

President Lyndon Johnson and Ladybird Johnson at Democratic campaign rally held in Reynolds Coliseum, October 6, 1964

Contributed by Josh Hager

Continuing our blogs about famous visitors to NC State, Historically Stated now turns to the most famous graduate of the Southwest Texas State Teachers College, President Lyndon B. Johnson.  On October 6, 1964, President Johnson visited Reynolds Coliseum as part of a whistle-stop campaign tour.  He was in the home-stretch of his campaign to keep the presidency after taking that office upon the tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Johnson’s opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, was an outspoken champion of conservatism.  In response, Johnson’s campaign consistently tried to color Goldwater as a dangerous man who could endanger the United States through his hard-line policies.  Criticizing Goldwater’s ability to act as president was one of Johnson’s major talking points in his address at Reynolds Coliseum.

The Technician described Johnson’s speech as a “hootenanny.”  Considering the great deal of traffic, media, bands, and other prominent political figures such as Governor Terry Sanford and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Moore, the newspaper’s characterization was quite accurate.  The First Family arrived in Raleigh separately, as the President flew to Raleigh while the First Lady, Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson, commonly known as Lady Bird Johnson, entered the city on a specially-commissioned campaign train named the “Lady Bird Special.”  Interestingly, the Secret Service instructed students with dorm rooms facing Reynolds Coliseum to keep their windows closed throughout the evening.  Coming less than a year after Kennedy’s assassination from a window in Dallas, this precaution is completely understandable.

President Johnson’s address to 14,000 people in Reynolds dealt with two major themes:  farm subsidies and the responsibilities of the presidency.  Firstly, Johnson promised to maintain subsidies, contrasting with Goldwater’s plan to end the program.  Addressing subsidies was a savvy political decision for Johnson in his attempt to court tobacco farmers and other agricultural interests in North Carolina.  Secondly, Johnson extemporaneously spoke on Senator Goldwater’s inability to responsibly handle the difficult tasks of the presidency that he would face.  The Johnson campaign had famously produced a television advertisement, aired only once, that depicted a nuclear bomb dropping, thereby suggesting that electing Goldwater could lead to such an event.  Referencing that fear, Johnson said “Peace is the most important word in the English language…We realized that you could press a button and wipe out the lives of 300 million people and you cannot recall these lives.”  Yet nothing of real substance arose from Johnson’s address, as his talking points had been discussed in depth before.  In reality, Johnson’s address was a well-calculated political rally.  Even Johnson’s exit was a classic political move.  Going to the Reynolds balcony to speak to those who could not gain admission to Reynolds, Johnson urged the assembled crowd to vote Democratic “from the White House to the Court House.”  As per his characteristic straightforwardness, President Johnson made his plea for votes in perhaps the least subtle manner possible.

Ultimately, Johnson’s visit to Raleigh probably did not affect the final outcome of the presidential election.  North Carolina joined the majority of the country in electing Johnson in a landslide over Goldwater.  Dan Moore won the governorship in a victory that surprised no one given North Carolina’s strong Democratic leanings at the time.  While Goldwater’s conservatism eventually paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s success (who happens to be another famous visitor to campus), the nation in 1964 rallied behind President Johnson and his promise of domestic reforms in the “Great Society.”  Unfortunately, a festering conflict on the other side of the world would soon blow up into a controversial war.  Johnson’s political success reached its peak in 1964; it would reach its nadir in the Mekong Delta in the subsequent years.

All information comes from The Technician, October 2-9, 1964.

For more information on famous campus visitors or campus politics in the 1960s, please visit http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/ .

For more photos of famous campus visitors, please visit http://historicalstate.lib.ncsu.edu/

Jul 01 2011

Spiro Agnew’s Visit, Part II

contributed by Josh Hager.  In the days leading up to Agnew’s speech, both Republicans and Democrats on campus

Audience at Spiro Agnew's visit to NC State University, 1970

prepared for the major event.  Liberals in ConSPIROcy successfully organized a gathering in the Brickyard concurrently with Agnew’s speech at which folk musicians would perform and students would listen to Agnew’s speech on a radio feed.[1] Meanwhile, campus Republicans tried their best to acquire tickets. According to one Technician columnist, the only students eligible for tickets were members of the campus Young Republicans club; even then, the waiting list for tickets was quite long.  In order to fill the void and allow for all students to hear Agnew, NC State’s campus radio station, WKNC-FM, decided to carry the speech live and in its entirety.[2] Both sides did agree on one key facet of the speech; neither side wanted an eruption of violence.  In that vein, both sides issues statements through the Student Senate and The Technician to strongly encourage their proponents to avoid destructive activity.

On October 27, the Vice President made his much-discussed address at Reynolds Coliseum.  Although approximately 20,000 tickets had been distributed in advance of the event, the coliseum was configured to only allow 8,000 spectators.  Therefore, at least 1,000 people who showed up with tickets were not able to enter Reynolds.

The speech itself was a peaceful event.  Only two members of the crowd protested (mildly) by holding up “We Dislike Agnew” signs twice during the address.  Presumably the fact that the Republican Party controlled ticket distribution led to a much more receptive crowd.   In any event, Agnew’s speech was mild throughout.  Agnew and the Congressmen that spoke before him systematically criticized both national and local Democratic officials, including Galifianakis, but only briefly mentioned the campus violence with which Agnew’s administration had become strongly associated.  Humorously, Agnew at one point failed to remember Republican candidate Jack Hawke’s name, awkwardly calling him “Jim.”  After the speech concluded, ConSPIROcy held a “People’s Dinner” and concert, keeping students in the Brickyard until 11:30 that night.  The next day, Cathy Sterling was back on the offensive against Agnew; she claimed that students had been railroaded by the “Spiro T. Agnew Traveling Road Show.”  However, rhetoric aside, students did not act against Agnew or the Republicans amassed in Reynolds in any violent way.  All in all, the campus considered the event a success due to its lack of inciting student unrest.[3]

In the longer-term, Agnew’s speech was not a political success.  Representative Nick Galifianakis retained his seat in Congress, narrowly defeating Jack Hawke.  Apparently Agnew’s speech did not rally enough Republicans to successfully remove Galifiankis from his congressional seat.[4] Yet the more bitter truth for Agnew and his supporters was their overall failure to take the House of Representatives.  In the political aftermath of the 1970 mid-term elections, Congressional Democrats ensured that Nixon would not find much support on Capitol Hill.  The political turmoil at NC State surrounding Agnew was symptomatic of the unrest that would continue throughout the rest of the Nixon administration, culminating in the disgrace of both Agnew and the President himself.


[1] “Agnew Main Topic at Senate,” The Technician, October 23, 1970.

[2] “Nick the Greek Versus Spiro the Greek,” The Technician, October 21, 1970.

[3] The Technician, October 28, 1970

[4] “Galifianakis Holds Off Hawke Thrust; Democrats Keep Congressional Control,” The Technician, November 4, 1970.

For more information on famous visitors to campus, keep an eye on Historically Stated or visit the Special Collectiosn Reading Room http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections

Jul 01 2011

NC State’s Pie: A Brief History of Harrelson Hall

Contributed by Kelly Murray

Harrelson Hall was the first cylindrical building to ever be built at a university.

When you head to the North Campus student bookstore this fall, you may be surprised to find that the shop has moved from its familiar location on Dunn Avenue to one of North Carolina State University’s most notorious landmarks. Harrelson Hall, named for former NC State alumnus, professor, math department head, and eventually chancellor, Colonel John William Harrelson (1885-1955), will play host to the bookstore during the Talley Student Center addition and renovation project. The building’s circular physique and labyrinthine passages will continue to house classes and student affairs groups during this time.

It is no secret that many faculty members and students have long hoped for the structure’s demise, with one article in the February 25, 2008, issue of the Technician going so far as to call for a “Harrelson Hall Haters’ Fair.” Those hoping to see the building demolished recently found cause to celebrate: the January 9, 2011, edition of the Technician reported that the NC State Board of Trustees approved the future demolition of Harrelson Hall after two separate reports declared that it could not be successfully renovated.

Interior of Harrelson, 1977

Was Harrelson Hall always the subject of “Haters’ Fairs”? Records from its first year of existence indicate otherwise. In the fall of 1961, shortly before Harrelson Hall’s grand opening in November, the two-million dollar building became the subject of national coverage as the first circular classroom facility built on a college campus. It was described by the Technician as “not only strikingly attractive; but it is also extremely functional” with each room said to maintain “an attractive, individual color scheme.” Harrelson Hall was even the subject of several NC State postcards, with captions under its cylindrical edifice describing it as “unique” and “remarkable.”

Harrelson Postcard 1962


Despite such accolades, it did not take long for a waterlogged winter to dampen the campus’s enthusiasm for the architecturally unconventional building. A February 1962 issue of the Technician points out that the familiar late winter Raleigh rains created a muddy mess outside Harrelson. One particularly incensed bystander complained that Harrelson Hall was “a two million dollar building but we have to walk through mud to get to it.” More grievances arose as tenants moved in to their new rotund home. The Department of History’s 1972 annual report described the building as “one of the most unsatisfactory academic buildings imaginable,” going on to accuse the structure of drastic temperature changes and crowded conditions. Additionally, Harrelson Hall’s unusual cylindrical shape allowed for a variety of pranks and acts of vandalism, including grocery cart races and a 1983 bonfire during which students removed the building’s doors and used them for kindling.

Distinctive in both history and shape, Harrelson Hall remains one of NC State’s most striking landmarks. Perhaps the best description of the building comes from head architect Ralph Reeves, who stated shortly before its completion, “If you put a bunch of slices of pie together, you get a pie.” For more information about the history of this particular NC State pie and its namesake, please visit Historical State.

Sources: Historical State; Technician (14 September 1961, 31 October 1961, 8 February 1962, 8 March 1962, 25 February 2008, 9 January 2011); Department of History Annual Report, 1971-1972, US 120.014 – North Carolina State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of History Records, Box 1.