Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas scenes from Special Collections

Festive holiday greetings from Special Collections! We've dug into some of our collections to find some Christmas images to share.

The first image comes from the Wilma Dykeman Collection, and shows a young Wilma Dykeman and her father bringing home the family Christmas tree in 1929. The photo is from her brother Jerome's scrapbook.
Wilma Dykeman and her father, 1929.
Several photos come from the E.M. Ball Collection, including this photo of the Christmas decorations in front of the Ivey's department store in downtown Asheville. The photo dates from 1960.

Downtown Asheville in Christmas regalia, 1960.
The next photo comes from the Massie Collection of Jesse Morris Photographs, which documents the Oteen Hospital in east Asheville during and immediately after World War I . This photo shows Christmas decorations in the hospital in 1920.
Oteen Hospital, 1920
The Ball Collection contains many photos that Ball took while working as a professional photographer, including a number of photos taken in private homes in and around Asheville during the Christmas season.  This is an example:
Christmas tree in a private home in Asheville, circa late 1940s.
The Annie Rives Nicholson Collection contains a scrapbook assembled by Nicholson during her teenage years in the early 1930s when she was a student in South Carolina.

Christmas Hop dance card, c. 1931, possibly from Clemson University
The final photo is from the Ball Collection and dates from 1948, showing a Christmas party at Leath House, a boarding house on Grove Street in Ashevile.

Christmas party at Leath House

Friday, December 4, 2015

Celebrating Chanukah in Asheville

This December Jews around the world will celebrate Chanukah, the eight day Festival of Lights that runs from December 6-14.  To celebrate, we're highlighting some selections from the Jewish Life in Western North Carolina collections that show how the Jewish community in Asheville has celebrated Chanukah.
Menorah at Congregation Beth Israel

Beth Ha Tephila was founded in 1891 and is Asheville's oldest synagogue. This program is from the Chanukah Festival that was done by the Asheville Hebrew Sunday School on December 6, 1896. The program is from the Beth Ha Tephila Congregation Collection.

Congregation Beth Israel was chartered in Asheville in February, 1899, just a few years after Beth Israel. This 1979 newsletter from the Congregation Beth Israel Papers includes the essay "What You Should Know About Chanukah" by Rabbi Samuel A. Friedman.

This 1983 photo from Beth Israel shows Rabbi Paul Grob and two members of the congregation lighting the menorah.

And while not specifically related to Chanukah, another seasonal event that bears mention is also documented in the Jewish Life in Western North Carolina collections. Lou Pollock was a prominent member of the Jewish community, noted for his work with the Jewish cemetery. He owned Pollock's shoe store in downtown Asheville, and every Christmas he would host a party at his store and donate pairs of shoes to children in need. This photo shows one of the Christmas parties in his store.

Lou Pollock is standing in front of the crowd on the right, holding a young girl. The nuns are from Asheville's St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines school. This photograph probably dates from the 1950s, and is part of the Ada and Lou Pollock Collection

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection

Isaiah Rice
Special Collections recently added the Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection to our photography collections. Containing over 1,000 images taken by Isaiah Rice, the collection documents Asheville’s African American community from the 1950s through the 1970s. The collection was officially unveiled on October 23 at the second annual African Americans in Western North Carolina Conference at UNC Asheville.

Asheville native Isaiah Rice (1917-80),  a World War II veteran, was active in  community and civic affairs. He was a recreation supervisor at the Burton Street Community Center in his neighborhood, and served on the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council. He was employed as a warehouseman and beverage salesman for 40 years. He often carried one of his many cameras, seizing countless opportunities to capture his family, neighbors, and community members on film. He photographed people at church, his neighbors and friends as they gathered for social events, folks attending parades and football games, as well as many scenes of people working and going about their business in downtown Asheville.  His photos document a thriving African American community in urban Asheville during the mid 20th century.

The collection contains photographs, slides, and negatives. A select group of photos is 
Asheville congregation
displayed online in the Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection, and an exhibit of photos from the collection will be on display on the third floor of Ramsey Library, outside of Special Collections, through December 15.

The Isaiah Rice Photograph Collection was donated to Special Collections by Rice’s daughter, Marian R. Waters, and his grandson, UNC Asheville History professor Dr. Darin Waters. Dr. Waters is working on a book based on the photos, and many more photos will be added to the online collection as work on the book progresses.

Isaiah Rice owned many cameras, including a small Minox camera that he constantly kept with him. It allowed him to take candid photos such as the one below, which appears to be taken out of the window of his delivery truck.

Downtown Asheville scene taken by Isaiah Rice.

The Collection contains hundreds of Minox photos. The Waters family loaned Special Collections his cameras, and this is his Minox along with a sheet of negatives and a pencil for scale: 
Minox camera and negatives.
Rice also owned a Zeiss/Ikon Ikoflex twin reflex camera, and the Collection contains over 500 slides that Rice took with this camera: 
Rice's Ikoflex twin reflex camera

Parade watchers, downtown Asheville. Minox photo by Isaiah Rice.
Walton Street Pool, Asheville. Ikoflex slide taken by Isaiah Rice.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The D. Hiden Ramsey Library Turns 50!

On September 27, 1965 Asheville-Biltmore College (the predecessor of UNC Asheville) dedicated the D. Ramsey Library. The library was the first building on the campus to be named, and it honored someone who, as the Asheville Citizen reported, was described by Governor Dan K. Moore as one of the state’s foremost exponents of education. In addition to providing long-time support for Asheville-Biltmore, Ramsey served as the first chairman of the State Board of Education and as chairman of the board of trustees of Western Carolina College.

In rather purple prose, the Citizen described how the “handsome building stands like a space-age Mt. Vernon with tall white pillars and ceiling high windows” and “broad steps lead to striking red doors.”

Construction of the library started in early 1964 and was completed, and the library occupied, in the summer of 1965. The photograph below shows D. Hiden Ramsey at the microphone, watched by Asheville-Biltmore President William Highsmith, and may have been taken at the formal dedication but was more likely was taken at a ribbon cutting for the summer opening.

In 1965, the library was approximately half the size that it is now, but it must have seemed very spacious in comparison to its previous location on the second floor of one wing of the administration building (now Phillips Hall). The inside of the library looked much different back then. The final photo is undated, but dates from around 1965. To provide orientation for those who know Ramsey Library, the photo shows the second (main) floor level, and the stairs are in the same location as they are now. The main entrance is about halfway down the wall on the right.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Housing Authority Records and Exhibit

UNCA History major Ashley McGhee worked as an Intern in Special Collections over the summer.  During her internship she digitized photographs from the Isaiah Rice Collection (more about this later this semester!) and processed dozens of boxes from the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville Records (HACA), creating more detailed finding aids that will help researchers find materials easier. All told, Ashley and Special Collections librarian Gene Hyde processed a total of 47 boxes of material from the HACA Records, adding folder-level details and removing restricted files, effectively opening up sections of the HACA Records to researchers for the first time. You can see the newly processed materials in the HACA Records finding aid – look for Parts 1-6, which include materials from the Asheville Downtown Commercial Complex files and the East End/Valley Street Project files.  
Ashley McGhee and her Housing Authority of the City of Asheville exhibit
Ashley also designed an exhibit based on the HACA Records, which is on the wall outside of Special Collections on the 3rd floor of Ramsey Library. She wrote the following essay about these newly processed HACA Records:
Housing Authority of the City of Asheville 
by Ashley McGhee, History Intern, Summer 2015
The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville was created on June 12, 1940, stemming from President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies of abolishing slum neighborhoods across the nation.  On the national level, the Housing Act granted unrivaled power to federal, state, and local governments in altering a neighborhood’s social, racial, and economic make-up.  When the Housing Authority was awarded federal housing funds their work became even more focused and they began to undertake the nationwide program of urban renewal.  
Urban renewal began in the 1950’s as an effort to enhance so-called “blighted” areas of cities across the country.  The purpose of the program was to eliminate slums and restore neighborhoods to former splendor through state-of-the-art housing and amenities for residents living there.  Nationwide however, urban development was also responsible for the dismantling of thousands of communities and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of families from their homes.  In Asheville, urban development and the creation of new public housing units brought immense changes into the communities they touched. 
A majority of the communities tagged in Asheville for urban renewal, and indeed across the country, were predominately African American.  Initially, public opinion was favorable towards urban renewal, due to a post-war faith in institutions, as well as what appeared to be solid planning, but eventually negative public opinion began gaining ground.  One of the largest detractors of urban renewal was the policy of using “redlining” to assist with choosing neighborhoods for redevelopment.  The criteria used for redlining often boiled down to racial lines, and even more telling was the fact that almost all communities chosen for urban renewal were African American and almost always overlapped redlined areas.  
The Housing Authority gave this pamphlet to Asheville residents when notifying them that the city was planning on acquiring their property
The East End and Valley Street neighborhoods had been a vibrant part of the community since the late 1880’s.  By the late 1970’s though, the Housing Authority had tagged the neighborhood for an urban renewal project, despite the fact that there were several active businesses and thriving centers for the community to gather, such as the culturally significant Stephens Lee High School.  Although poor structural conditions symbolized many of the homes in the community, there were also an equal number of homes that could certainly not be categorized as slums or blighted.  While many in the community initially favored urban renewal for the positive changes slated for implementation, there were others who considered the urban renewal project as nothing more than a program that would rupture both the individual and community identity of the East End and Valley Street neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, and in the end, instead of the model homes and immaculately landscaped areas those in the neighborhood had been promised, most residents were either shunted into inadequate public housing projects or forced from the community entirely; their former homes replaced with widened highways and office buildings.
  During Asheville’s urban renewal projects, much of the downtown area, and especially the buildings and places with historical value, managed to remain untouched during this era of redevelopment.  This would change with the creation of the Asheville Revitalization Committee, whose plan was to “revitalize” the heart of downtown Asheville by replacing 11 city blocks with a hotel, several major department stores, and a sizable office complex complete with parking garage.  The committee contracted with Strouse Greenberg & Co. out of Philadelphia on the project, with an estimated multi-million dollar demolition bill slated for taxpayers in the form of bonds.  From this proposal came the creation of two groups- Building for a Better Asheville- backed by Asheville’s business elite, and Save Downtown Asheville- informally known as The Asheville 1,000 and with noted hometown warrior Wayne Caldwell at the helm.  After endless campaigning on both sides, city voters took up the battle and in a resounding two to one vote defeated the bond proposal and effectively killing the project.  Decades later, by combining the ideals of both historic preservation and progress in rehabilitating the downtown area, Asheville has been molded into one of the most noted creative and cultural centers in the South.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Robert F. Campbell Papers and Exhibit

Introduction: Montana Eck worked in Special Collections this semester as an intern from the UNC Asheville Department of History. Over the course of the semester he processed and created a new finding aid for the Robert F. Campbell Collection.  Montana created an excellent, informative exhibit based on Campbell's life that is on display outside of Special Collections in Ramsey Library. He also wrote the following summary of Campbell's life and career. Thanks to Montana's work, the Robert F. Campbell Papers are now available for research in Special Collections.

Montana Eck and his exhibit of materials from the Robert Campbell Papers

A brief history of Robert F. Campbell and his work, drawn from materials in the Robert Campbell Papers in UNC Asheville's Special Collections

By Montana Eck

Robert F. Campbell
Reverend Robert Fishburne Campbell was officially welcomed as minister of First Presbyterian Church of Asheville in 1892,  would go on to serve as a prominent social reformer and beloved pastor in Western North Carolina for forty-six years until his retirement in 1938. Born in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1858,  Campbell was a graduate of Washington and Lee University who found his true calling in the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. 
First Presbyterian Church in 1899.

Campbell expeditiously rose to prominence, not only in Asheville, but in the national Presbyterian community as well, quickly cementing his legacy in the region with his help in the founding of the Appalachia Synod.  Dr. Campbell’s charity work in Western North Carolina, including the completion of the Mountain Orphanage in Black Mountain in 1904, gained the reverend respect and recognition across the country.

Along with his charitable work, Campbell was a very prominent, even if sometimes controversial, author of social issues in the South. Campbell’s published works include pamphlets on animal cruelty and race relations, both of which were very touchy topics for a Presbyterian minister in early 20th century North Carolina. Campbell’s pamphlets, “The Race Problem in the South,” “The Use and Abuse of Animals,” and “Sunday Laws and Liberty” gained national recognition and praise. 

Aside from his work in the social realm, Campbell became a prominent advocate for keeping the Sabbath day holy as he not only spoke against the operation of businesses on Sunday but also the prominence of recreational sports, such as baseball, on the Lord’s Day. Dr. Campbell, a prominent spokesman for change in North Carolina, has cemented a lasting legacy in Asheville and across the south for his charity work and enthusiasm for doing what is right, something that still appeals to the populace of Asheville to this day.

Letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt seeking Reverend Campbell's counsel.

            Dr. Campbell, the former neighbor of Robert E Lee; is an interesting character when considering his role in the advancement of racial equality in the south following the Civil War and Reconstruction. As can often be inferred by his writing, Dr. Campbell did not necessarily believe in the equality of the two races but rather believed that the Christian and moral thing to do was to repay African Americans for the horrors of slavery through religion and education. Campbell firmly believed that education could be inspired through the church and in his published pamphlet titled “Some Aspects of the Race Problem in the South”, Dr. Campbell explains that the Presbyterian Church is best equipped to not only educate African Americans but they are also well equipped to help establish a “home life in which the children will be instructed in the world of God and in the faith of the church.” In short, Campbell believed that through his work with the Presbyterian Church, Appalachia Synod and Home Missions, they could create a more accepting society and one that had a love for God. His preconceived notions of the “emotions” of the entire African American race are biased and judgmental but as can be seen through the hundreds of letters Campbell amassed through the years, his heart was genuine with the hope of correcting the horrors of slavery with the word of God.

            Overall, Dr. Campbell was a very important figure in the Asheville community during a time of social change, pandemic and war but most importantly Reverend Campbell was a citizen of this area. Dr. Campbell cared deeply about his fellow citizens and he was able to share his message of kindness and compassion through the word of God and through his church. Dr. Campbell was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in, even if it meant going against the traditional beliefs of his congregation. The fair treatment of animals, repercussions for slavery, and even his approval for the sale of alcohol were radical for any white man in North Carolina in the early 20th century, much less a Presbyterian minister. In many ways, Dr. Campbell was the perfect illustration of the Asheville citizen, very steadfast in his beliefs but strong-willed enough to go against the status-quo and do what he believed to be right.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Asheville-Biltmore College's first computer

Asheville-Biltmore College (which became UNC Asheville in 1969) entered the computer age in 1967 when the campus was connected to an IBM 360-75 computer located in the Research Triangle Park near Chapel Hill.  As outlined in the Asheville Citizen article below, this "long promised tie-in" was the result of running a telephone line across the state to link a teletype keyboard at A-B College to the IBM computer in the Research Triangle Park.

From the Asheville Citizen, April 17, 1967

The IBM computer was owned by the Triangle Universities Computer Center. A-B College formally applied to have access to the IBM computer in February, 1967, through the State Board of Higher Education's NC Computer Orientation Project. The application noted that "at the beginning of the 1965-66 session, the college had no computer activities. During the fall of in programming and computer utilization were approved by the curriculum committee and the faculty... The first course in elementary programming and flow charting began February 1, 1967, with twenty-eight students enrolled."  The Introduction section to the application is below. 

From the Application to the NC Computer Orientation Project.

Prior to formally applying for a computer terminal, A-B College worked with the NC Computer Orientation Project (NCCOP) to prepare faculty and staff to use the computer. This memo from February 1967 from NCCOP announced a summer workshop to train faculty and staff in using the terminal and in PL/1 programming language. 

Initially, all computer courses were taught in the Mathematics Department. The Teletype terminal was placed in Room 116 of the Science Building (now Rhodes-Robinson) and programming classes were taught in this room.  To give some perspective, the photo below from the 1967-68 Asheville-Biltmore College Catalog shows the campus at the time:
Asheville-Biltmore College in 1967
To access the IBM computer, commands and programming information were entered into the Teletype keyboard and sent via telephone lines to the IBM computer. There were charges associated with both access time on the computer (which was shared with other universities across the state) as well as long distance telephone charges. The installation of the terminal was announced to President Highsmith in this memo on April 11, 1967, and included a lot of information about telephone access:  

In 2015, we've become accustomed to powerful desktops and laptops, as well as small tablets and smartphones. In comparison, the IBM 360-75 was a large mainframe computer that literally filled a room, as shown in the photo from the IBM archives (yes, all that you see in this room is one very large computer). Similar computers to this IBM model were used by NASA in the Apollo program, including the Apollo 11 flight that landed the first humans on the moon in July 1969. 

The top-of-the-line IBM 360-75 computer had a whopping 1,024 kilobytes of memory - or 1 megabyte. In 1967 this was cutting edge, and a new IBM 360-75 cost over 3 million dollars. In contrast, an iPhone can have from 16 to 128 GB (gigabytes) of storage. Considering that 1 gigabyte is equal to 1000 megabytes, then a basic 16 GB iPhone that you can slip in your pocket has 16,000 times more memory than the room-size IBM computer that filled a room. 

In 2015 we take computers for granted, but in 1967 they were new and - in technological terms - revolutionary.  A-B College was offering computer classes 48 years ago, when the idea of a "computer" on campus was a terminal in the Science Building that was connected to a large room filled with machines in the Research Triangle Park.  Desktop personal computers would not be readily available until 1977, the year that the Apple II, the Radio Shack TRS-80, and the Commodore PET came on the market. Until that time, if you wanted to study computer science, odds are you would be using a terminal connected to a mainframe. A-B College was one of the handful of places you could do that.
IBM 360-75, similar to the one A-B College used. (Photo courtesy of the IBM Archives.)
Sources and credits: Thanks to the Asheville Citizen Times for permission to reprint the news article. Information about the IBM computer is from the IBM Archives website.  Information about the history of computers is from the website. Other information is from the UNC Asheville Archives.