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Posts tagged: Oral History

Jun 28 2017

Wolf Tales 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant Wraps Up

Participants in Wolf Tales recordings made possible through the 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant.

Participants in Wolf Tales recordings made possible through an NCSU OIED 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant.

Wolf Tales has wrapped up a busy and productive spring thanks to funding from an NCSU Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant, supporting partnerships and recording events to create a more diverse and inclusive picture of our community in the archives.

Beginning in December 2016, the Wolf Tales team began targeted outreach to campus groups and student organizations to build awareness of the mobile video oral history program, and to plan recordings at major events throughout the spring of 2017.  With the planning and partnerships underway, Wolf Tales brought recording stations to 6 different events, capturing a total of 31 recordings with 44 participants in March and April 2017.  Events included student group EKTAA’s Oak City Revolution South Asian dance competition, Native American Student Affairs’s NCSU Pow Wow, the GLBT Center’s Lavender Graduation, and the Ebony Harlem Awards of Excellence Celebration presented each by the African American Cultural Center in conjunction with the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs, in addition to two open recording days in the Talley Student Union where all members of the NCSU community were invited to participate.

These partnerships and outreach allowed Wolf Tales to capture an increasingly diverse and inclusive range of stories and voices now documented in the archives, representing GLBT, Latinx, South Asian, East Asian, African American, Muslim, Native American, and other communities. The recordings will be a resource for research and teaching about NC State history and about issues around diversity within the campus community, as an important foundation of a collection that will continue to grow in the years to come.

Many of the recordings from the Diversity Mini-Grant period are currently available online as part of the Wolf Tales digital archive, with more on the way!  Recordings are shared through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site, so stay tuned as more become available in the future.  For more information on the Wolf Tales program or to discuss a partnership please contact

Jan 23 2017

Wolf Tales Receives 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant

We’re happy to announce that the SCRC’s mobile oral history program, Wolf Tales, has received a 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant from the NCSU Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED). As described in this announcement from NCSU Libraries, the grant will support focused outreach to campus groups to document the voices of historically underrepresented students at NC State.

Shima Idries and Shamms DiarBakerli, Wolf Tales recording, 5 May 2016

Shima Idries and Shamms DiarBakerli, Wolf Tales recording, 5 May 2016

In its first year Wolf Tales has captured 41 recordings with a diverse range of voices, from current students to alumni of the class of 1943. The Wolf Tales video recordings and transcripts are archived and shared online through the Libraries’ Rare & Unique Digital Collections site. The Libraries has brought Wolf Tales recording stations to events ranging from annual reunions of the NCSU Alumni Association to “open days” in the Libraries where participants are invited to sit down individually or in groups of 2-3 people to make a 10-20 minute recording.

Student and alumni participants in the first year of Wolf Tales recordings.

Student and alumni participants in the first year of Wolf Tales recordings.

Having partnered with the African American Cultural Center to record student and alumni voices at Harambee! 2016, Wolf Tales will work with other campus organizations that support current and former students whose experiences have not been fully represented in written documentation, including in African American, LGBT, military veteran, Muslim, Latinx, and Native American communities.

Elwood and Diane Hill Becton, at the African American Cultural Center's Harambee 2016, 8 September 2016

Elwood and Diane Hill Becton, at the African American Cultural Center's Harambee 2016, 8 September 2016

Cynthia M. Sharpe, Destinie Statum, and Jakini Kauba at Harambee! 2016, 8 September 2016

Cynthia M. Sharpe, Destinie Statum, and Jakini Kauba at Harambee! 2016, 8 September 2016

Plans are currently underway to bring Wolf Tales to the GLBT Center’s Lavender Graduation in April 2017 to gather stories of the experiences of GLBT students and their allies. Wolf Tales plans to extend this framework to other underrepresented voices through partnerships with other OIED units and student groups to create a more diverse, inclusive record and to prevent future silences in the archives.

If you’re interested in making a recording or discussing a possible partnership with Wolf Tales, please contact, and visit the Wolf Tales website for more information. We are actively seeking partners and would love to hear from you!

Dec 07 2016

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  This event touched the lives of all Americans, including students here at NC State at the time.

In an oral history interview with William C. Friday, Friday describes his memories of first hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor while he was a student at NC State (known at the time as State College), and its impact on his life. William Friday graduated from State College in 1941 with a degree in Textile Manufacturing, and went on to serve as President of the University of North Carolina system from 1956-1986.

Oral history with William C. Friday

Oral history with William C. Friday

Friday’s oral history can be heard as part of the Student Leadership Initiative, along with many other interviews with former student leaders over the years.

The Technician newspaper includes other evidence of the impact of Pearl Harbor on students at NC State.  According to the student newspaper on Feb. 7, 1942, NC State student Robert Westbrook was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Westbrook, a Raleigh native, was a radio operator in a bomber.

Clipping from Feb. 1942 Technician, acknowledging the death of student Robert Westbrook in Pearl Harbor.

Clipping from Feb. 1942 Technician, acknowledging the death of student Robert Westbrook in Pearl Harbor.

Almost one year after the attack, on Dec. 4, 1942, the Technician describes a “quiet observance” planned to take place at the Memorial Bell Tower, honoring “those alumni killed at Pearl Harbor or in other war action.” As part of the ceremony, ROTC units marched to the Bell Tower and played taps, one moment of silence was observed, and no speeches were made.

Clipping from Dec. 4, 1942, Technician describing Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony.

Clipping from Dec. 4, 1942, Technician describing Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony.

More student reactions to Pearl Harbor and other military events over the years can be found in digitized issues of the Technician, available through our Rare & Unique Digital Collections.  If you are interested in exploring or learning more about these or other collections in the Special Collections Research Center, please contact us.

Mar 14 2016

Enhancing Research on Women in STEM

In honor of Women’s History Month, two NCSU Libraries Fellows, Heidi Tebbe and Virginia Ferris, organized an event at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, co-sponsored by Kathy Titus-Becker and the WISE Village, using the iPearl Immersion Theater to demonstrate how resources at the NCSU Libraries can assist researchers and others wanting to learn more about the legacy of women in STEM at NC State, from its earliest pioneers to today.

SCRC materials highlighted in a visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theatre at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library.

SCRC materials highlighted in a visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theater at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library.

Dr. Christine Grant, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Special Initiatives in the College of Engineering at NC State, gave introductory remarks on the importance of advocacy and mentoring to increase diversity in the STEM fields. Dr. Grant became the first African American woman to join the faculty of the College of Engineering at NC State when she arrived in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1989. In addition to being a leader in her field she is widely recognized for broadening the participation, promotion, and retention of underrepresented minorities in STEM. Dr. Grant is co-editor of the book Success Strategies From Women in STEM.

Dr. Christine Grant gives opening remarks.

Dr. Christine Grant gives opening remarks.

Following remarks in the Duke Energy Hall, Tebbe and Ferris debuted a visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theater, highlighting a selection of materials from key collections on women in STEM in the Special Collections Research Center, as well as more recent institutional data. The visualization featured materials from collections of pioneering women in the STEM fields at NC State, including Mary Yarbrough, Katharine Stinson, Gertrude Cox, Frances M. Richardson, and the NCSU Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

Included in these selections were photographs, documents, and oral history clips that offer insight into the experiences and perspectives of these early women leaders in STEM at NC State. A letter from Gertrude Cox offered words of encouragement to a young woman interested in entering the field of statistics in 1959:

The field of statistics is certainly wide open to women. If you are willing to take the mathematics and science courses and then work very hard to get beyond the junior level, there are all sorts of opportunities to go as far as you wish.

- Gertrude Cox, 1959

Katharine Stinson’s collection contains several oral history recordings that allow us to actually see and hear her tell her story, in her own voice.  She tells the story of meeting Amelia Earhart when she was a teenager working at an airport in Raleigh. When Stinson told Earhart that she wanted to become a pilot, Earhart told her to become an engineer instead, so she could be in charge of the planes that pilots flew. With this, Stinson made the decision that she would go to NC State to become an engineer.

Oral history with Katharine Stinson, conducted by Gene Nora Jessen, 1990.

Oral history with Katharine Stinson, conducted by Gene Nora Jessen, 1990.

The interview includes this story and the story of what happened when Stinson arrived at NC State to enroll in the College of Engineering:

After I graduated from high school, I found out that at North Carolina State University they taught Mechanical Engineering with an Aeronautical Option. So I went up to enroll in Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Option. When I got there – I guess I was sort of stupid – I didn’t notice that there weren’t any other girls around, but anyway.

When I got up to the place to enroll, this man looked up at me and said, ‘What are you doing here, little girl?’ And I said, ‘I’ve come here to enroll in engineering.’ He said, ‘Girls don’t go to school here. Girls don’t study engineering.’ I said, ‘Oh, I want to be an aeronautical engineer.’ And he said, ‘We don’t take girls here.’

- Katharine Stinson, oral history with Gene Nora Jessen, 1990

The man that Stinson refers to in this excerpt was the dean of the College of Engineering at the time, Wallace C. Riddick. Stinson went to Meredith College and in just one year she earned two years’ worth of academic credit. She returned to apply to NC State and was admitted in 1937 as the first woman student in Engineering. She graduated in 1941 and went on to become a founder of the Society of Women Engineers, the first woman woman engineer hired by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (now the FAA), and a lifelong advocate for women entering STEM fields.

The complete video oral history with Katharine Stinson, conducted by her colleague Gene Nora Jessen in 1990, is available online in our digitized collections.

While these materials and collections provide an important foundation for documenting this important history, it is an area where the SCRC continues to grow and build. Using the high technology spaces at the Hunt Library for this event allowed us to engage the NC State community to create greater awareness of what we have in our collections, and of our efforts to continue to build collections on women in STEM at NC State. We look forward to continuing to build partnerships with students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the community in our efforts to capture an increasingly inclusive and diverse record of the university.

Kathy Titus-Becker and students from the WISE Village discuss the visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theatre.

Kathy Titus-Becker and students from the WISE Village discuss the visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theatre.

Visit for information and resources related to research on women in STEM at NC State University, and contact us if you have questions or ideas about using or building upon these collections.

Feb 17 2016

State’s Mates Alumni Reception

This past weekend, Special Collections Research Center staff brought a special pop-up exhibit and new Wolf Tales oral history booth to the NCSU Alumni Association’s State’s Mates Reception, as part of a celebration of alumni couples who met at NC State. Among the items on display were Agromeck yearbooks from the 1960s through the 2000s, programs and yearbooks from the original State’s Mates organization, and photographs of NC State’s favorite couple, Mr. and Mrs. Wuf. The famous couple stopped by the exhibit and enjoyed seeing a photo from their wedding ceremony, officiated by Demon Deacon at an NCSU vs. Wake Forest basketball game in 1981.

Mr. and Mrs. Wuf show off their wedding photo.

Mr. and Mrs. Wuf show off their wedding photo.

Our staff tested out the new recording booth as part of our mobile oral history program, Wolf Tales: Capturing University Voices, by recording short interviews with some of the couples attending the event. Alumni sat down to record the stories of how they met, and other favorite memories of their time as students, in video interviews that will be made available in our digital collections. One couple recalled their memory of being at the basketball game where Mr. and Mrs. Wuf were first married (in addition to their subsequent Wuf vow renewals at later games). Another alum told the story of asking his wife out on their first date while she was studying in D.H. Hill Library.

Alumni couple Sharon DuRant Evans ('85) and Antonio Evans ('84) record their story in the Wolf Tales booth.

Alumni couple Sharon DuRant Evans ('85) and Antonio Evans ('84) record their story in the Wolf Tales booth.

We had a great time meeting the couples who came out for the reception, and look forward to more events to come! To learn more about Wolf Tales and find out about future events, check out the Wolf Tales website or contact

Feb 02 2016

Celebrating African American History Month: An Interview with Irwin Holmes

In 1956, four African American undergraduate students enrolled at North Carolina State University (or NC State College, as it was named at the time), marking the first early steps in desegregating the campus. Irwin Holmes, Walter Holmes, Ed Carson, and Manuel Crockett began their time as students here that fall, and in 1960 Irwin Holmes became the first African American undergraduate student to receive a degree from NC State, with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

Irwin Holmes, first African American athlete and undergraduate student to receive a degree from NC State.

Irwin Holmes, first African American athlete and undergraduate student to receive a degree from NC State.

As a student, Irwin Holmes made history by joining the tennis team, making his team the first integrated athletic team in NC State history. Holmes’ teammates also elected him co-captain of the tennis team his senior year, making him the first African American athletics team captain at NC State.

Mr. Holmes sat down with us to record an oral history interview in the fall of 2014. The interview is now online in our digital collections, where researchers can watch the full video interview and read the interview transcript to learn more about Mr. Holmes’ life and his experiences as a student at NC State.

Irwin Holmes' oral history interview in the SCRC's digital collections.

Irwin Holmes' oral history interview in the SCRC's digital collections.

In the interview, Mr. Holmes describes growing up in a vibrant African American community in Durham, where he says, “I grew up seeing that black people can do whatever they want to.” He describes then coming to NC State where he was the only African American student in all of his courses, with professors who in some cases refused to teach him because of the color of his skin. He also describes his tennis coach, Coach Kenfield, as an ally and mentor to him during his time as a student, and tells the story of his teammates walking out of a Chapel Hill restaurant that refused to serve him.

Mr. Holmes generously shared these stories and many others with us, helping to fill some of the gaps and silences about the experience of African Americans in the official records of the university during the early years of desegregation. Thanks to Mr. Holmes’ contribution to our ongoing efforts to document university history, researchers can better understand what it was like to be in the shoes of the first African American students on a previously all-white campus.

Learn more about Irwin Holmes and the history of African American students at NC State by exploring our digitized collections, Historical State Timeline, and Mr. Holmes’ interview online.

Apr 20 2015

New Interviews Added to Student Leadership Initiative

Three new video oral histories have been added to the Student Leadership Initiative, which chronicles the experiences and impact of former North Carolina State University student leaders. People recently interviewed are Wesley A. McClure (Student Body President, 1967-1969), Stephen G. Rea (Student Body Treasurer, 1980-1981), and the Honorable Ronald E. Spivey (Student Body President, 1981-1982).  Excerpts of the videos are available online.

Wesley A. McClure interview

In his interview Wes McClure discusses the adoption, in 1969, of a new Student Government constitution that is still in effect today. He talks about the beginnings of  the Free Expression Tunnel and student reactions to the 1960s North Carolina Speakers Ban.  He also describes the School of Design in the 1960s. After graduation from NC State in 1969 McClure became an architect, and he was a principal of McClure Hopkins Architects and other firms.  He and his wife are founders of Savvy Parrot, Inc., the developer of “Adventures on Pepi’s Island,” a web-based social emotional learning software.

Steven G. Rea interview

In his interview Steve Rea discusses building consensus in Student Government and working on such hard issues as student fee increases.  He also talks about mentors and his leadership role in the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the importance those had on his career.  After earning both bachelor and master degrees from NC State, Rea worked at Carolina Power & Light and then Heyward Incorporated, where he has been most recently the Senior Vice President for Power Capital Sales.

Ronald E. Spivey interview

In his interview Judge Ron Spivey discusses working with administrators to expand operation hours of  a campus snack bar and a gym. He talks about serving as the student member of the Board of Trustees, opening lines of communication with students, and meeting such influential people as Roy H. Park and Gov. Jim Hunt.  He also recounts the start of the desk-signing tradition of Student Body Presidents.  After graduating from NC State in 1982, Spivey earned a law degree, and later he became a North Carolina District Court judge and a Superior Court judge.

Since its launch in 2010, the Student Leadership Initiative has sought ways in which to more fully connect users with university history, enrich university archives by adding personal narratives, and positively impact learning and research in the NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center. This multi-year program has chronicled the experiences and impact of former student leaders through the collection of video oral histories and the development of interactive virtual and physical exhibits, with the ultimate aim being to better expose how the college career informs a life.

Oct 27 2014

NC State’s First Student

First Graduating Class, 1893. Walter J. Mathews (back row, third from right) is considered to be the first student at NC State. Alexander Q. Holladay (center) was the first college president.

This October marks the 125th anniversary of the first classes held at NC State and the first students enrolling in the college.  By tradition, Walter J. Mathews is considered to be the first student.  The University Archives holds an oral history recording of Mathews, made in June 1966, when he was 95.  In the interview Mathews says that he was the first student by virtue of having arrived first on campus on September 30, 1889.  An early register in the University Archives does list those first students in 1889.  Mathews is among those listed on the first day of classes (October 3, 1889), but he is not the first on the list.  In the interview he indicates that he was not the first person entered in the register.  He said that Professor D. H. Hill was the one entering the names in the register and did not list students in order of arrival.  (Hill later became college president, and he is the namesake of the library.)

Walter J. Mathews (first NC State student) in later life.

Walter Jerome Mathews was born on August 20, 1870, in Buncombe County and grew up on a farm near Asheville.  His education at NC State focused on mechanics, and he was part of the college’s first graduating class (1893).  He had a career in construction, eventually owning his own business in Goldsboro.  He even served a term as mayor of that city.  He died there on August 28, 1967, shortly after his 97th birthday.

In the oral history, Mathews recalls the train trip to Raleigh in 1889, and he remembers that when he arrived no one in town knew much about the college.  He walked out to the school, which consisted of only Holladay Hall at the time, and found only one person and no furniture when he got there.  Elsewhere in the interview he talks about working on the school farm, student life in general, and the first commencement exercise, and he mentions the early literary societies and first dormitories.  The recording is now available online.

In addition to the oral history, the NCSU Libraries also has Mathews’s diploma (a bachelor of engineering) and newspaper clippings about his life and career.  Please contact the library’s Special Collections Research Center for information on how to access these items.

Dec 20 2013

Winter Simulation Conference 2013: A Successful Launch for

The Winter Simulation Conference in Washington, D.C., which was held from December 7-11, was the ideal venue to showcase the new NCSU Libraries’ website that features video oral histories of computer simulation pioneers as well as other collections about computer simulation. Six more video oral history interviews took place during the conference: Russell C. H. Cheng, Ray J. Paul, Peter D. Welch, Lee W. Schruben, Bruce W. Schmeiser, and Averill M. Law. The video oral history project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a collaborative project with NCSU’s Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Pictured above are:

Top Left: Richard E. Nance, delivering his “Titans of Simulation” talk at the Winter Simulation Conference

Top Right: Peter D. Welch, on left, after his oral history interview with NCSU Professor (and project P.I.) James R. Wilson

Middle Left: Lee W. Schruben, preparing for his oral history interview

Middle Right: Ingolf Stahl, donating books on simulation to the Simulation Archive at NCSU Libraries

Lower Left: Robert G. Sargent, on left, with Averill M. Law, after Law’s oral history interview

Lower Right: Ray J. Paul, at the conference reception after his oral history interview, with his book about living with Parkinson’s

To learn more about the Computer Simulation Archive, go to:

Apr 12 2013

Spotlight on Student Leaders: Dr. Stafford

Dr. Thomas Stafford

Dr. Thomas Stafford, interviewed for the Student Leadership Initiative

The Student Leadership Initiative spotlight today is on Dr. Thomas Stafford, who retired in 2012 from his position as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, which he had held for more than 30 years.   He has been a mentor to countless students.  Many people  may be surprised to learn that he also attended NC State as a master’s student and worked as a residential adviser on campus.  In excerpts from his interview, he talks about growing up in Henderson, NC, learning leadership through military service, and encouraging university administrators to put students first.  A full transcript of the Stafford interview is available upon request.