Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Selections from the William T. Kirkman Collection: Celebrating North Carolina Archives Month

October is "Archives Month" in North Carolina, and this year's theme is “North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State." Given that outdoor recreation is extremely popular in Western North Carolina, we thought we'd celebrate by featuring photographs from the William T. Kirkman Photography Collection.  Kirkman was an Asheville native and avid hiker. He joined the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC) in 1941 and remained active with the club for over 50 years.  He was also an accomplished photographer and began taking photos of CMC events in the 1940s.

Photo of Kirkman from the exhibit on display in Ramsey Library
Kirkman's photos document hikers on trails throughout Western North Carolina, and the Kirkman Collection contains over a thousand black & white prints, color prints, and 35mm slides. The earliest photos in the collection date from the 1940s, and several of the 1940s-era photos are included in this blog and in an accompanying exhibit in Ramsey Library at UNC Asheville.

The Carolina Mountain Club was active in the development and maintenance of the Appalachian Trail in the Asheville area.  The photo below dates from 1948 and shows a CMC crew working on the AT at Devil's Fork Gap.

Trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail in 1948.
Kirkman's photos often capture hikers enjoying the outdoors and the pleasure of each others' company, as the following photos indicate.

Having fun on the trail, c. 1940.

Smiling on a long staircase.
A brief stop on the trail.
Kirkman often framed his hikers amidst the natural beauty that is Western North Carolina. We're so taken by some of his photographs that we used Kirkman's photo of hikers with mountains behind them as the background for our Special Collections & University Archives logo (see above).  Some of the following photos showcase the mountain landscape as well as hikers.

Winter hikers on an unknown mountaintop.
Walking alone

Resting on a rocky ledge.

In addition to the William Kirkman Photography Collection, UNC Asheville also has the official records and historic papers of the Carolina Mountain Club. Look for another post later this month as we continue to celebrate hiking in Western North Carolina as part of North Carolina Archives Week! 

Until then, Happy Trails!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

History of the University of North Carolina at Asheville now available online.

William Highsmith
Former Chancellor William Highsmith’s history of UNC Asheville, The University of North Carolina at Asheville: The First Sixty Years, was originally published in a limited run in 1991. Thanks to the NC Digital Heritage Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, a digitized copy of Highsmith’s history is now available online through the Digital NC website. You can access it via this link.

William Highsmith brought a wealth of personal experience to this history, having spent 22 years as the chief administrative officer at the institution.  He was hired as President of Asheville-Biltmore College in 1962, which at the time had the distinction of being the first state-supported Community College in North Carolina. Under Highsmith’s direction the college grew into a four-year liberal arts university and joined the UNC system as the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Highsmith became UNC Asheville’s first Chancellor and held that position until his retirement in 1984.  

After his retirement  Highsmith settled into his new life as Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of History and began work on his history of the University.  He conducted research and dictated an extensive narrative, but at the time of his death in July 1987 the history was incomplete. After his death the manuscript was edited and revised by his widow, Allene Highsmith, and Chris Streppa, then Director of Publications at UNC Asheville.  The book was published by UNC Asheville in 1991 and now has a new life on DigitalNC.

Cover of the 1991 print edition
University Archives in Ramsey Library has copies of Highsmith's original narrative, notes on the posthumous editing process, working drafts of the revised copy, correspondence related to the publication of the completed book, and the final print edition of The University of North Carolina at Asheville: The First Sixty Years.